More than 7,500 plastic shotgun shell waddings collected along N.S. Salt Marsh Trail

More than 7,500 plastic shotgun shell waddings collected along Nova Scotia’s Salt Marsh Trail
WATCH: The Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association says volunteers recently collected more than 7,500 plastic shotgun shell waddings that washed up along the Salt Marsh Trail. Natasha Pace reports.

The Salt Marsh Trail is arguably one of the most picturesque places in Nova Scotia, but its beauty has been overshadowed lately by what’s been washing up on shore.

In late January, thousands of plastic waddings started appearing along the trail.

“This is part of the great trail that goes across Canada. It’s considered one of the iconic pieces of the Trans Canada Trail so having this, all this plastic showing up on the trail is very discouraging,” said Michael McFadden, Chair of the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association.

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The plastic debris is a problem the association says they’ve seen before.

“The waddings coming up on the trail appear to happen every three to four years,” said McFadden.

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“It’s sort of a combination of you get the right storm, the right tides and perhaps an accumulation of the wadding in the water and in amongst the reefs in the salt marsh and they get pushed up onto the trail and they just accumulate because the trail itself is a causeway that is sort of a natural barrier for the waddings to get further into the salt marsh itself.”

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McFadden says the plastic shell waddings are coming from a nearby skeet club, which is located across the water from the Salt Marsh Trail.

Volunteers recently organized a clean-up and removed more than 7,500 waddings from the trail.

“If there were over 7,500 on the trail, you have to wonder how much of that plastic is actually in the harbour itself,” said McFadden.

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“When you see that much plastic that’s in amongst, in the water column and in the marsh itself, you got to wonder how much it’s interfering with natural processes of siltation and that sort of stuff. Plus it could be ingested.”

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McFadden says the group has reached out to the Department of Natural Resources, which owns the land the Salt Marsh Trail is on, and has also reached out to the Department of Environment about the issue.

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Iain Rankin, the province’s environment minister, says they believe the debris comes from Dartmouth Clay Target Association and that inspectors have spoken to the organization about the issue.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” said Rankin.  “So far, the company who is responsible for this has been cooperative.”

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No one from the Dartmouth Clay Target Association responded to requests for an interview at the time of publication.

The environment department plans to meet with the organization this week to discuss the problem. At this point, no fine has been issued.

“No fine yet. We’re still looking at options. That is an option in compliance,” said Rankin.

“At this time, we asked the company to ensure that it all gets picked up and we’re meeting with them on Friday to ensure that it doesn’t happen again and that they have a plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”