A Beaver Pond
Nova Scotia and Scotland have a lot of things in common – one being the allowance of residents to go across private lands for specific reasons. Scotland’s “Right to Roam” essentially allows anyone to hike almost anywhere, so it’s more generous than Nova Scotia, but here we do have a right to go across private property to legally fish.
Nova Scotia’s law is set out in the Angler’s Guide thusly:
“Any resident of the Province shall have the right to go on foot along the banks of any river, stream or lake, upon and across any uncultivated lands and Crown lands for the purpose of lawfully fishing with rod and line in such rivers, streams or lakes.”
That “uncultivated lands” part includes a rather specific right to cross private woodlands which may have been cleared or cut, but which are still in a “natural” state – i.e. they aren’t now a lawn, farmer’s field or golf course or something.
What’s this all got to do with beaver ponds? Well most of the Province’s small, trout filled beaver ponds are actually on private woodlands or Crown property. The latter isn’t an issue, but the former can be.
This week, I fished a spot I’ve been going to since I was a very young kid and my Grandfather and Dad used to take me there to throw grasshoppers into the pools and watch the trout smack them! The stream has a small beaver pond down below, and in the past it was a wooded paradise of pretty good forest growth, a beautiful trail down to it and it was trout filled, as although bass are in the system down below, they hadn’t yet infested the beaver pond.
It’s all changed now.
The beaver pond is still there, but the forest has been cut heavily right down to the water’s edge. The path has been obliterated and is now replaced with a woods road so that machines can access the wood to cut – in what is almost a complete clear cut. The little beaver dam is gone, although the pond’s volume is still held up by a shelf of rocks. There were no trout seen, but to be fair, I didn’t catch any bass either.
The disappointment was complete when I met a woman driving a truck who came to inquire as to what I was up to when I got back to my car up at the main road. I told her I was fishing, and we discussed the fact that my great, great grandparents owned land in the vicinity, and my 3x great grandparents owned a home 2 houses up the road and are buried behind the church next door. That seemed to satisfy her, but she then added something – “I may ask you not to fish there when we make cottages down there”. Not wanting to be rude, I simply said nothing, but gave her my business card so she’d know who I was. I suspect she’s not “from here” as we say, and for sure doesn’t know the rules about fishing access, unless she is going to clear the entire forest around the pond and make a lawn.
I certainly hope not.
We’re losing more and more of these little gems every year – I saw one beaver pond taken out in nearby Digby County last year, and another along the main highway in Annapolis County further along. A shame really, as these ponds are great not only for trout, but for the wildlife. The lady said she’d seen loons and some eagles after I told her I was a photographer, so perhaps she and her other land owners will reflect on that and ask why it is the loons and eagles choose that little pond.
It isn’t as decorations for a lawn, it’s as part of the wilderness that disappears all too fast these days.