HALIFAX: Although a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted an assessment of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park, that doesn’t necessarily provide insight on the area potentially being used as the site of Cabot Golf’s third golf course.
Bruce Nunn, a media relations officer for the DNR, confirmed that the assessment was completed early last month. However, Nunn pointed out his department still hasn’t received any official request from Cabot about setting up an additional golf venue there.
Rumours about Cabot Golf eyeballing West Mabou as the site of a third golf course have circulated for several months.
So far, no comment from Cabot has been made.
While no official request was made, Nunn confirmed in January that Ben Cowan Dewar, who owns Cabot with Mike Keiser, and former premier Rodney MacDonald met with DNR representatives last December to provide an informal, verbal outline of their ideas about potential for a golf course in the area of the park.
The recent assessment focused on the ecological value and conservation priorities of the park, which supports one of 72 dune complexes in Nova Scotia and is one of only three dune complexes along the western coast of Cape Breton Island.
“The dune complex at [West Mabou Provincial Park] appears to be the largest on this coast and one of the few in Nova Scotia underlain by gypsum and other calcareous rock,” the report read in part. “West Mabou Provincial Park occurs on ‘Windsor Group’ bedrock. This is the rock that produces karst surface features.”
The type of gypsum karst is rare, in the words of the report, “nationally unique.”
“Karst ecosystems include landforms features such as cliffs, sinkholes, spires, talus, caves, disappearing streams, and other structures,” the report read. “They support a number of rare plants, lichens, and animals, including species at risk…”
The report also mentioned the dune forest at the park.
“Dune forests are not very common in Nova Scotia,” the report read. “They are a priority ecosystem for conservation. There is also a record of a ground lichen dominated dune ecosystem. These ecosystems are even rarer than dune forests and a high priority.”
The assessment referenced records of the piping plover (endangered) and olive-skied flycatcher birds (threatened) which can be found in the park, along with a number of rare plants.
“The area has a high potential for additional rare and/or unique plant, lichen, and ecosystem occurrences because of the dune habitat, and the unusual conditions provided by karst and karst-associated soils,” the report read.
The two-page document noted there is not much legally protected coastal land in Nova Scotia.
“Dunes complexes are among our most sensitive ecosystems,” the report concluded.
The final lines of the document stated the assessment could be made more comprehensive by visiting the park during the growing season and gathering current field data.