Miscou Island, N.B., a crucial area for thousands of ducks and seabirds (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Miscou Island, N.B., a crucial area for thousands of ducks and seabirds (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Nature Conservancy of Canada conserves major bird habitats on Miscou Island

November 10, 2014
Lac Frye, N.B.


450 acres (182 hectares) protected through several land donations, purchases

Many crucial sites for bird life on the northeastern coast of New Brunswick are now in the hands of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).  More than 450 acres of sensitive habitat are being protected in Miscou Harbour and across Miscou Island, including land surrounding Lac Frye at the northern tip of the island, near the provincial Grande Plaine Protected Natural Area. 

The Nature Conservancy of Canada announced it has completed eight projects; acquiring 18 parcels of land from private owners.  The sites include sandy beaches which provide nesting habitat for the nationally endangered piping plover. Also being conserved are provincially significant wetlands, salt marsh, forests and tidal ponds. These areas are used as stopover sites for thousands of ducks and migratory birds and provide homes for threatened species such as Gulf of St. Lawrence aster and red knot sandpiper, Canada warbler and olive-sided flycatcher.

NCC wishes to thank the descendants of of the Windsor-Harper family of Miscou Harbour; Gwen McConkey, Ida Morris, Gail Maclean-Pollock, Penny Maclean and Heather Armstrong, for generously donating lands for conservation. In recognition of these gifts, NCC has established the Windsor-Harper Nature Reserve in honor of the family which has a rich history in the area.  Robert Harper was one of the original European settlers on Miscou Island in the early 1800s. Albert E. Windsor came to Miscou Island to establish a lobster canning business in the late 1800’s where he met and married Etta E. Harper, the grand-daughter of Robert Harper.

Donations of ecogically significant land on Miscou Island have also been received from David Young of Fredericton, and Elsbeth Berg of Alberta.
NCC also wishes to recognizes funding partners, including the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Government of New Brunswick through the Regional Development Corporation.  Support was also received from the Acadian Peninsula Community Foundation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), Groupe Savoie, Crabtree Foundation, SWN Resources Canada along with many individual donors.


“By donating this family legacy to the care of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, these lands have been returned to the wind, the sun and the sea,” said Gwen McConkey on behalf of the Windsor-Harper descendants. “The natural bounty, that yielded to the determination and hard work of several generations of farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs that called these rough shores of the Bay of Chaleurs and the Gulf of St. Lawrence home, will once again thrive for future generations to appreciate and experience”.

“This section of the Acadian Peninsula has spectacular and productive wetlands, peatlands, coastal habitats and forest. We identified these sites for protection because of their high ecological significance,” said Paula Noel, New Brunswick Program Manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Thanks to land owners who donated or sold their properties, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is now safeguarding some of the most significant undeveloped habitat found anywhere in the Maritimes. 

"This landmark project marks another significant achievement under our Government's Natural Areas Conservation Program and Ecological Gifts Program, which both support the goals of the National Conservation Plan launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year,” said The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council. “The National Conservation Plan demonstrates our Government’s commitment to contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity by conserving and restoring our lands and waters while connecting Canadian families to our natural spaces.”


• Large numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl use the beaches, lagoons and large ponds on peatlands of Miscou during the fall migration.  Up to 1,000 Northern gannets have been recorded feeding off the northern regions of Miscou Island.
• Other birds and ducks recorded in the area include willet, horned lark, bank swallow and red crossbill, northern pintail, wigeon and red-breasted merganser, black duck, mallard, brant, long-tailed duck, common eider, surf scoter, white-winged scoter and black scoter, wilson's phalarope, and American golden-plover
• Donations of ecologically significant land to qualified conservation organizations can be eligible for enhanced tax benefits under Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts program.

Learn More:

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.7 million acres (over 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved 16,000 acres (6,475 hectares) in New Brunswick.  For more information visit: www.natureconservancy.ca/nb.

The Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership launched by the Government of Canada in 2007. Led and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the program supports the accelerated pace of conservation of ecologically important private lands across southern Canada. To date, $245 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada, with more than $400 million in matching contributions raised by NCC and its partners to secure our natural heritage.  An additional $100 million was announced in May 2014 under the National Conservation Plan for the NCC to continue this program.

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