Black Beach – On Sunday August 2, 2009, the Fundy Baykeeper hosted its annual Musquash Paddle in the Musquash Estuary, 20 km west of Saint John. The Musquash was identified in 1997 by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) as the last estuary in the Bay of Fundy that is ecologically intact, and relatively pristine. The Musquash contains all the dominant habitat types found in Bay of Fundy estuaries.
In March 2007, after a successful 10 year campaign by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick in collaboration with the members of the Fundy North Fisherman’s Association, the Musquash Estuary was designated as a Marine Protected Area under the Oceans Act — protecting it from future human encroachment. On July 23, 2009, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced the acquisition of 680 acres from 95 year old Mabel Fitz-Randolph. Fitz-Randolph, a life long resident and conservationist of the area, watched the 2009 Musquash Paddle from the shore. She has not yet missed a paddle.
The 10 km paddle was organized by the Fundy Baykeeper (a project of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick), the Lorneville Community Centre and the Saint John Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. The paddle began with over three dozen colourful kayaks and canoes traveling down the Musquash River to the Bay of Fundy. The paddle ended with a barbecue at Black Beach, named for the color of its sand. Participants who did not have their own kayaks or canoes were able to rent a boat from Eastern Outdoors. David Thompson, the Fundy Baykeeper, and others cleaned the beach of litter in the weeks leading up to the paddle.
Participant Matt Buckley of Moncton said that crossing the waves of the open water in the harbour had been daunting. Buckley enjoyed the gooseberries that he had found growing along the route. Fredericton resident and fellow paddler Bronwyn Cunningham said that the water was choppy, but she felt safe the entire time. Both Buckley and Cunningham were pleased by the opportunities to see cormorants, seals, sandpipers and a Great Blue Heron.
Dawn Robichaud, a participant from Saint John, and a member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said that the trip was “exhilarating”. “In our everyday busy life, we don’t realize how important it is to have natural areas until we have the chance to get out into them– not just postage stamp size spaces– real natural areas. Days like this are important because we get to see the people who are immersed in the daily struggle to protect the environment. This day will stick with us in the coming weeks”.
Kevin Matthews, a Conservation Council board member and volunteer asked the question, “If this is the last remaining intact estuary on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, what happened to the rest of them and who is responsible?”