Little Musquash Cove (Photo by NCC)

Little Musquash Cove (Photo by NCC)

NCC expands Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve

May 23, 2019


Charitable land trust conserves two kilometres of Fundy shoreline

One of the Bay of Fundy’s most important conservation areas is growing. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has expanded its Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve near Saint John by conserving 163 hectares (402 acres) at Little Musquash Cove.

The newly conserved area includes two kilometres of undeveloped Fundy coastline and features coastal wetlands and older forest. The land was entrusted to NCC by sisters Janine Blaine and Debbie Christiansen, and their husbands Bill Blaine and Todd Christiansen, all of Maine. It will be called the Philip E. Plante property, in honour of the sisters’ father.

With the addition of this new site, NCC has protected more than 2,230 hectares (5,500 acres) in the Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve, NCC’s largest nature reserve in Atlantic Canada.

The Little Musquash Cove area is important to conserve because of its ecological diversity; its freshwater wetlands, salt marsh, coastal barrens, tidal mudflats, rocky shoreline and black spruce and balsam fir forest provide valuable habitat for wildlife. As one of the wildest river estuaries remaining in the Bay of Fundy, the Musquash Estuary’s extensive fresh and saltwater wetlands provide an important food source for many species of migratory birds due to its location on the Atlantic Flyway, one of North America’s key migration routes.

At one time, the Musquash Estuary was targeted for an industrial park and landfill, but community members successfully opposed the proposal, and later donated their own properties to  NCC to help create the Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve.

In 2006, the Musquash Estuary became New Brunswick’s only federal Marine Protected Area in recognition of its importance to both land and marine species in the Bay of Fundy, as well as the commercial fishery. The nature reserve is now a popular outdoor recreation destination and NCC maintains two hiking trails on the site, at Five Fathom Hole and Black Beach. Little Musquash Cove is accessible by foot on the Little Musquash Road, an unpaved and unmaintained former coastal road. 

This conservation project was made possible thanks to support from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Ecological Gifts Program.  The Government of New Brunswick, Donner Canadian Foundation, William P. Wharton Trust, Gosling Foundation, Crabtree Foundation, J.T. Clark Family Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and many individual donors also supported this project.


“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is grateful to the Blaine and Christiansen families for entrusting this land to NCC. We would also like to thank the Government of Canada,the Government of New Brunswick and all our donors for their support of this project. NCC’s nature reserve at the Musquash Estuary is not just a beautiful and well-loved place, but one that is critically important to the health of the Bay of Fundy, so we are very pleased to be able to add this new coastal area to our nature reserve.”

Paula Noel, New Brunswick Program Director, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“On behalf of my colleague Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I am proud to announce the expansion of Musquash Estuary Nature Reserve to protect important forest and wetland habitat here in New Brunswick. Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, we collaborated with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to make progress toward doubling the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans.  We know biodiversity is under threat and by conserving important wildlife habitats, we are protecting Canada’s biodiversity.”

Karen Ludwig, Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest

“We are very proud to honor our father, Philip E. Plante, by entrusting his land at Little Musquash Cove to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We are pleased that this beautiful land will always be there, as it is, for future generations to enjoy. We are also happy that it will continue to be a nature reserve that supports the wildlife and birds that Dad loved. We can see a trip to Musquash with the grandchildren very soon and many more to follow.”

Janine Blaine and Deborah Christiansen, former landowners


  • The Musquash Estuary’s vast intact marshes are a rare landscape. More than 85 per cent of the original salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy have been altered by humans over the past 300 years.
  • An estuary is a body of coastal water into which fresh water flows from rivers and streams, mixing with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries are considered one of the Earth’s most productive ecosystems and support a wide range of wildlife.
  • The Musquash Estuary is located on the Atlantic flyway, the most important route for migratory birds in Eastern Canada/Atlantic Canada.
  • Birds found at Musquash include common eider, scoter, black guillemot, common loon, purple sandpiper, semipalmated sandpiper and peregrine falcon.
  • Other species found at Musquash include harbour seal, harbour porpoise, black bear and white-tailed deer.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved more than 30,500 hectares (77,000 acres) in the Atlantic provinces. To learn more, visit

The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) was established to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada.  Federal funds invested in the public-private partnership program were matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners.  Habitat conserved under the NACP will enhance natural corridors and other protected areas.

The NACP concluded March 31, 2019.  It has been replaced by Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP), which will continue to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands.  The Nature Conservancy of Canada will administer the new program.

A portion of this project was donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada under the Ecological Gifts Program, which provides enhanced tax benefits for individuals or corporations donating ecologically significant land.

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Media Contact:

Kathryn Morse
Director of Communications - Atlantic Provinces

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