The trust has secured an agreement to purchase 66 acres of lakeshore property, with 15 islands, a forested peninsula and 5.5 kilometres of undeveloped shoreline. The area is a critical nesting habitat for a large number of endangered turtles, says the trust.
However they only have a short time to raise the money. In order to have the agreement go through, they need to raise $120,000 by Dec. 31.
“Thanks to Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and generous individuals and corporate donors, we have already raised almost half of the funds necessary to protect this incredible area,” said conservation coordinator, Cristi Frittaion.
"However we still need to raise $120,000 by Dec. 31."
That's why the organization is putting out an urgent appeal for donations.
The Blanding’s turtle, one of the longest‐lived and slowest maturing freshwater turtles in Canada is also a turtle in trouble. With a hatchling survival rate of less than one per cent, and expanding cottage development and roads in the areas where these turtles live, they are struggling to survive.
Blanding’s turtles are listed on both the Canadian and Nova Scotian endangered species lists. Within Nova Scotia, they are found only within one small area – and there are likely only about 350 adult turtles remaining.
The important nesting site is at risk because of its high potential for cottage development. The property is used by generations of Blanding’s turtles, including Squirt, Lumpy, Smoothy, Lucy, Dilly, Anya, Muldora, Kelly, and Pat – all females who have laid their eggs on this site. The turtles were named by staff and volunteers of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI), one of the Nature Trust’s partners in conservation.
MTRI is helping the Blanding’s turtle to recover by coordinating a turtle nest protection program and leading Blanding’s turtle research efforts in the region.
Acadia University researchers under the supervision of Dr. Tom Herman and Dr. Steve Mockford have been conducting Blanding’s research and recovery efforts since 1989.
“This is a fantastic opportunity,” said Dr. Herman. “The McGowan Lake property is truly one of the most important nesting sites for Blanding’s turtles in Nova Scotia.”
He added, “Protecting these wetlands, shorelines, and islands as Nature Trust conservation lands means protecting the imperilled Blanding’s, their sensitive nests, and their vulnerable hatchlings now and forever.
To date the Nature Trust has protected over 6500 acres of outstanding natural areas, encompassing 51 conservation areas protecting coastal wilderness, critical freshwater habitats, old‐growth forests, and habitat for species at risk, as well as wilderness recreation, and unique education and research opportunities.
For information or to donate to the McGowan Lake Blanding’s turtle sanctuary call (902) 425‐LAND, or visit www.nsnt.ca