Skip to content

Celebrating 100 days against Alton Gas with a walk in the woods

“Take a look at where we’re standing. Alton Gas plans to clear this forest and build a pipeline here instead.”

At the trailhead near the Stewiacke River. Photo credits: Trish MacIntyre (left), Sadie Beaton (right).

Because of the 100-day blockade, the years of resistance before it, and the multiple other fronts on which grassroots water protectors are fighting, Alton Gas will never manage to complete this project.

This is what I said to the 35 people who came to Sunday’s nature walk along the proposed Alton natural gas pipeline route. Myself and a few other organizers brought 35 people on a walk in the woods through the Stewiacke River Candidate Wilderness Area in order to show people some of what is at risk if the Alton Gas project is completed.

People sitting and enjoying the Stewiacke River during a light rain. This tree isn’t far from the planned water crossing for Alton Gas’s planned pipeline, which would go under the river and connect with the existing Maritime and North East pipeline. Photo: Sadie Beaton.

This area is incredible. There is a rare stand of old growth hemlock, dozens of medicines still used by Mi’kmaq people, multiple wetlands, and high biodiversity throughout the area. Most of this area was logged extensively about 50 years ago, but because the soil is so good and it hasn’t been touched since, it’s well on its way to being a diverse and healthy forest again. Even though there has been logging in the area, forest surveys by the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute show that a corridor of old growth hemlocks along the Stewiacke may never have been logged, ever. This place also on a list of places the Government of Nova Scotia plans to turn into protected wilderness areas in the future.

This is just one of many wetlands in the area that Alton Gas plans to build a natural gas pipeline. This construction would involve clearing a 20m-wide right of way for the pipeline, which would be a major disruption to wetlands and forest regeneration. Photo: Chris Quigley.

We walked down an old logging road to the edge of the Stewiacke River. The proposed pipeline would cross under this river, and leave a 20m-wide scar on several kilometers of land on either side. I’ve spent a lot of time with Alton Gas’s maps and thought a lot about the impacts this project, but standing on the bank of the Stewiacke brought a new depth to my understanding of the crime that is this project.

All kinds of people came on this nature walk –elders, children, people who have been around the Alton Gas fight for ages, and people who were visiting the camp for the first time. We all shared a great experience seeing the diversity and beauty of the land.

Sipekne’katik Elder Joe Francis tells a crowd about the medicinal uses of raspberry. He shared all kinds of knowledge about medicines and how to pick and preserve them. Photo credit: Trish MacIntyre.

After a long walk in the woods – it was more than an hour longer than anticipated because everyone was having so much fun looking at mushrooms, gazing at the river, and learning from the Elders who shared so much knowledge of plants and medicines with us – we headed back to the treaty camp at the Shubenacadie River for a BBQ.

BBQ at the camp, with music! Photo credit: Trish MacIntyre.

A note on rivers

Alton Gas threatens two important rivers: the Shubenacadie and the Stewiacke. The planned caverns are located in Alton, Nova Scotia, and have two pipelines associated with them. One pipeline would carry salt brine, and it would head towards the Shubenacadie River to the west. A second pipeline, intended for carrying natural gas to and from the caverns, would head south and cross the Stewiacke River before connecting with the existing Maritime and North East gas pipeline. These rivers face different but big risks, and both are historically and contemporarily important for fishing, tourism, and treaty rights.

It was great to get so many people out to the camp, not only to participate in and support the ongoing land defense at the front gate of Alton Gas, but to celebrate water protectors’ 100th day at the camp! This is an incredible feat, and there is no plan to shut down the camp until Alton Gas packs up and goes home.

The sun shone brightly upon us for the walk and the BBQ, as you can see by this very bright photo! Credit: Dorene Bernard.

Read more about the Alton Gas project, the many risks is poses to our land, water, and climate, and the amazing resistance against the development at my blog!