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   Irving Nature Park, a 600 acre (243 hectare) site, was created by J.D. Irving, Limited to help protect an environmentally significant, endangered area. This special part of the Fundy Coast, minutes from a major urban centre, is now a place where the public can enjoy and experience the various ecosystems of Southern New Brunswick's coastline.

   The peninsula of volcanic rock and forest on the Bay of Fundy shoreline, is swept twice daily by seawater with some of the highest tides in the world. Mud flats and salt-marsh are along one side; a long sand beach is on the other. The area nurtures one of New Brunswick's richest marine ecosystems.

   The abundant rich food sources found in the salt-marsh and the sea attract numerous species of migratory and marine birds. The area is a traditional staging site on flight paths between the Arctic and South America, and a breeding ground for many shore birds along Atlantic coastline. More than 250 species of bird have been seen here during migration periods.

   A vehicle road encircles the park, and eight walking trails of different lengths and difficulty allow visitors to tour the park without endangering sensitive areas. Help the fragile ecosystems survive by staying on trails and roadways, and by respecting the park's preservation guidelines.

    J.D. Irving, Limited maintains the park and keeps it open to visitors on foot, year 'round. The company provides park naturalists to give tours and answer queries from May to October. During the winter special guided outings are offered by experts in subjects like local history, nature, and astronomy.

   The woods in the park are a part of a natural Acadian forest with tree species like Red Spruce, Balsam Fir and Yellow Birch. From early spring to late fall the wildflowers and berries of an Acadian forest are plentiful. Look for coltsfoot and purple asters, wild blueberry, creeping snowberry and bunchberry in season. A great variety of birds and small forest animals make this Acadian forest their home.

   With the tides of the Bay of Fundy coming in and out twice daily to heights of 7.62 metres (25 ft.), the wave action on the ancient volcanic rocks and on the plants and organisms living along the shoreline is intense. Many marine creatures like periwinkles live in the pools of tidal water left in rock cavities.




   Saints Rest Marsh is an internationally renowned bird-staging area. Among the cordgrass and sea lavender are rare sightings of a Glossy Ibis, or more commonly, the park's symbol, the Great Blue Heron. A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk extending 300 m. out onto the marsh allows closer observation of marsh inhabitants and their predators.


   The mudflats ecosystem, separating the salt-marsh from the Bay of Fundy, provides an essential link in the food chain. As the tide recedes exposing the great mud surface to the air, millions of minute crustaceans or their pin-hole burrows are left visible. Sandpipers and other shorebirds stalk the flats, spearing their meals from the mud.


    Saints Rest Beach, a one kilometre link between the park peninsula and the mainland, has its gravel and sand held together by the root systems of the Marram grass that edges the beach. While the grass is indifferent to the strong winds of the bay, foot or vehicle traffic will kill Marram grass. Once the grass dies it will not reestablish itself. Without the grasses' roots holding the beach sand like a protective net, the sand would soon be washed out with the tide or blown away by the shore winds. This barrier beach provides a home for many sand-dwelling marine organisms and plants.

    Along the Frog Trail at the tip of the park's island is a sphagnum moss bog. The moss absorbs up to 25 times its own weight in water. When this moss dies it releases acids making the water in the bog acidic. Only trees like Tamarack and Black Spruce that can tolerate acidity and low nutrient levels can grow in the bog area.





    The Park's observation tower, hidden among the treetops at the highest point on the peninsula, allows a 360° view of the land and seascapes, and closer views if the tower's binoculars are used. The eight walking trails are lined with wood (hemlock) chips for dry buoyancy underfoot, and simple log bridges span any small waterways or wet areas on the trails. A boardwalk stretching onto the marsh permits close observation of the fascinating animal life pursuing the invertebrates and plankton inhabiting the marsh and mudflats. Decks built at several strategic places along the rim of the park provide special views of the bay. The park encourages family outings by providing gas barbecues, picnic tables, and wheelchair accessible chemical toilets. (Visitors must bring their own drinking water as the site does not have potable water.)

    All of the built features were constructed with the least disturbance possible to the area's fragile ecosystems.

   J.D. Irving, Limited has a full time park manager and a seasonal group of naturalists who are available to lead tours and to answer questions from May to November. During this period, the park is only open to vehicle traffic during daylight hours. Special outings with a park guide to see stars or to snowshoe by moonlight in winter are arranged throughout the year.

   Over 125,000 people have visited the park annually since its opening in 1992. School tours that focus on specific topics can be booked through the park manager.

   The company publishes quarterly sheets for the Naturalist's Notebook, nature notes on the park's wildlife. For more information about specific programs or to book a tour, call the Irving Nature Park manager at 506-632-7777. Visit the site on the web through the Irving Forest Discovery Network (ifdn) at www.ifdn.com






"Watching The Seals Go By"
a story taken from the Times Globe Newspaper Mar. 24/98

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