In the late spring of 2017, the SLCA asked Dr. David Patriquin, Professor of Biology (retired), Dalhousie University, if he would undertake a “flora survey” of Sandy Lake and Environs as part the association’s efforts to ascertain whether the original ecological value of the area had survived the decades. Was it worth trying to protect the ecological integrity of the area? Dr. Patriquin expressed reluctance at first due to other commitments, but in his words “a single visit convinced me that it had to be done. I conducted field trips on 22 days over the period June 14 to Nov 1, 2017; a few were mostly on water (paddling), most were on land. It was a volunteer activity, there was no payment and no contract.” Dr. Patriquin’s studies of the Sandy Lake area are ongoing.

Dr. Patriquin subsequently launched a website to report his observations and interpretations together with some integration of related documents produced by many others. The website is also intended to serve as a resource for others pursuing interests in the natural history of the area.

Dr. Patriquin notes that mostly what his study contributes is a description of the plants and plant communities (terrestrial and aquatic) that you see when you visit the area. Additionally, measurement of some limnological variables provides some update on the state of the surface waters. The descriptive studies included formal documentation of Old Forest ratings at 3 sites according to a DNR protocol. Two of those qualify as ‘Old Growth’, so with the already established Old Growth status for the peninsula hemlocks (by Ed Glover/DNR) that makes three sites that qualify as Old Growth in the area. Dr. Patriquin describes a ‘pit and mound’ topography at these sites which indicates the presence of old growth forest historically and underscores the importance of wind as a disturbance agent. The aquatic studies point to deterioration in oxygenation of the lake since the 1970s, while the pH conditions for salmonids have apparently improved. The fringing wetlands in Sandy and Marsh lakes and along the stream corridor to the Sackville River support healthy populations of amphibians and reptiles. Dr. Patriquin took many photos. Selections of the photos are posted in Google Photo albums which are given as links on his website.

Dr. Patriquin notes “I expect my explorations and the website to be ongoing, as my enthusiasm for Sandy Lake and Environs only increased during the course of the initial exercise. I view Sandy Lake and Environs as they were viewed in 1971: an asset to all of Halifax municipality, indeed to the whole province. I see it as a very special place, complementing not replicating other major natural assets of Halifax.”