Ducks Unlimited Trail, "Miner's Marsh"
Our Ducks Unlimited site, known as "Miner's Marsh" is located just seconds from the downtown core of Kentville. It was officially opened in August of 2010 after 7 years of planning, land negotiation, trail work, grant applications, conservation work, environmental permit applications, and bridge installation. The site includes 1.7 km of walking trails, interpretive signage, picnic areas, benches, viewing stands, and a 100-foot bridge across the Cornwallis River. Amenities at the site are all made to complement the natural landscape of the property, including the color of the bridge, which was designed to blend into the marsh rather than stand out. Crusher dust is used on the trail; viewing stands and boardwalks are constructed from wood. The site is a protected wetland featuring wooded areas, marshland, and ponds. The site is also complemented by the Cornwallis River that runs directly through it and along the north side. The marsh is home to hundreds of species wildlife including ducks, muskrats, frogs, fish, and herons.
Many people enjoy using the Ducks Unlimited site for walking, running, biking, picnicking, and wildlife observation in the spring, summer, and fall. Local schools often use the site for field trips to teach children about different species that thrive in marshlands, and the importance of keeping our wetlands protected. Many people use the trail portion of the site for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. The trail is groomed in the summer and fall months for easy access by wheelchair, stroller, or persons with walking aids. Motorized vehicles are not permitted. The trail is groomed in the winter months to allow easy access to skiers and snowshoe users. There is no charge to use the site, and not permitting motorized vehicles makes it a safe place for all ages.
The Ducks Unlimited Space has been celebrated not only by Kentville residents, but also by people who travel from other communities to enjoy it. The Town receives a large number of calls and emails annually from users who just want to say how much they enjoy the space. The space is accessible all year round and gets constant use by people who enjoy nature and being outside. It encourages active living, and provides our community members with a beautiful place to be physically active through active transportation.
- The space enhances the natural environment while also protecting it. By acquiring the land from the original owners, the Town was able to ensure that no other developments took place on that site. Partnering with Ducks Unlimited Canada and many business sponsors, the site was built into a safe and healthy place where wildlife and people can co-exist in harmony.
- Because the space is not accessible by motorized vehicle, it promotes active transportation. People are required to walk, run ski, or bike the trails in order to experience the site and all it has to offer. The site helps our community stay healthy and active.
- It's educational. People can learn about the wildlife that exists within the site from the interpretive signage, or simply through observation. School classes often use the site as a field trip location. Project Webfoot has used the site for their 2-day workshops, and it’s a destination for day camp groups, and science classes as well.
- It enhances community spirit. There are very loyal DU site trail users who take extra care to help the Town keep the site clean and tidy. These community members are volunteers who have a special interest in the site and go out regularly to collect any stray material or litter that may find its way into the site.
- It is in a convenient location. The site is located in an area that is a 5-minute walk from anywhere in the downtown. People can enjoy it on their lunch break, after work, before work, or any time very easily. There is no long drive out of town to get there. It also joins up with the rest of the 7 kms of walking trails in Kentville, so if a person desired to, they could travel there using active transportation from anywhere in Town east or west of the site.
A number of groups and organizations contributed to the project, as well as some grants received through different programs:
- Town of Kentville (Financial and in kind work)
- Ducks Unlimited Canada (Financial and in kind)
- Municipality of the County of Kings
- Government of Canada Eco Action Program
- Don Burry and Family (citizen who donated cash)
- Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection
- The Kings County Wildlife Association
- Kentville Rotary Club
- National Trails Coalition
All of these groups recognized the importance of the project and were eager to help see it completed. Local media groups including Transcontinental Media and AVR/Magic 94.9 (radio) provided announcements and feature stories about the project as it progressed keeping the community interest piqued as the project progressed.
The "Miner's Marsh" is important to our community because it is a symbol of what can be accomplished when people work together. Many organizations came together to make this project happen. Without the partnerships and relationships that were formed, the project could not have been completed.
Our community members recognize the space as a place to go and feel at home. The space makes Kentville a destination for visitors, and really adds something special to the community. Our citizens feel proud of the space and love to tell others about it. People are amazed when they discover it for the first time so close to the busy downtown.
Planners were involved from the very beginning of the project with land acquisition and the planning of trail and active transportation routes. The land acquisition was particularly important obviously, because without the land, the site could not be built. Engineers coordinated projects within the larger project. Things such as aboiteau modification had to take place to ensure the marsh could hold water. Engineers also handled the storm water management aspect of the project (making sure the marshland wouldn't be contaminated by storm water runoff) and the installation of the 100-foot bridge across the river. All of these aspects of the project were very large scale and time consuming and required skilled planners and engineers to execute properly.