Since late 1999, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in partnership with the local, volunteer-based Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy (KCC) has been working to raise funds for the purchase of Gaff Point, a 124-acre property, located on Nova Scotia's scenic South Shore. It is the last undeveloped coastal headland in Lunenburg County with many valuable marine, terrestrial and wetland ecosystems.
By mid-June of 2002, NCC had negotiated and exercised options to purchase all 23 parcels of land that constitute Gaff Point. These purchases were partially enabled by revenues received for Gaff Point from multiple sources, including the generous contribution of $15,000 from the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund (NSHCF). To complete the funding for the purchase of Gaff Point, bridge financing from NCC's National Land Conservation Fund (NLCF) has been obtained.
Despite some significant challenges encountered along the way, Gaff Point has been a pivotal project for the NCC. An important land assembly, with huge community and natural values has been protected. Local awareness of the importance of land conservation has increased significantly, opening many doors for NCC in the area. The new relationships built between NCC and members of the communities surrounding Gaff Point will ensure the long-term success of this and other projects as they arise in the area.
Financial and In-Kind Results
There are many supporter who contributed to the Gaff Point Campaign:
As can be seen from the results above, NCC, together with KCC, has received support for Gaff Point from a combination of corporate, individual, foundation and government sources from the local area, Nova Scotia and across Canada. The KCC began the Gaff Point project in 1995 by acquiring a property valued at $45,000. This was the first property of the land assemblage and has been counted as an in-kind donation in addition to cash contributions totaling $70,000.
Following initial budget projections, the rapid rise in the value of ocean front land along this stretch of coast and unforeseen upfront stewardship needs have boosted total project costs from $1.3 million to about $1.6 million. Of this amount, inclusive of the NSHCF commitment, slightly more than $1.3 million has been realized to date, which includes $483,000 of donated land plus $165,000 of in-kind stewardship and site restoration. To complete the project fundraising, $189,000 is required to pay for outstanding land and stewardship costs, and $117,043 remains outstanding in terms of NCC staff and coordination costs.
A major effort is underway to raise funds for a memorial site at Gaff Point for Bill Schwartz, a former Chair of the national board. Bill was a long time friend to NCC and had an affinity for headlands similar to Gaff Point. As a local business owner Bill made many friends in the region who were well aware of his love of the outdoors and commitment to conservation. A few of those long time friends have organized a committee to raise the money equivalent to the cost of the two properties at the very tip of Gaff Point. At the successful conclusion of the Bill Schwartz Memorial Campaign a cairn will be constructed in a small clearing at the end of the point. With a stunning view over the La Have River Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, Bill's friends and family feel it is fitting tribute to a man who worked so hard during his life to preserve our natural heritage. Approximately $52,734 has been raised to date with an additional $100,000 projected by the end of the campaign.
During the summer of 2001, John Moore, a member of the NCC Ontario board and summer resident of Chester, NS, conducted his own fund raising campaign in support of Gaff Point. An appeal was mailed to a number of his acquaintances, many of whom are summer residents, seeking support for Gaff Point. The mini-campaign raised $18,000 in cash but also had a more important and profound effect. It spread the message about NCC and the need to protect undeveloped and environmentally important land to a number of wealthy, non-resident landowners along this important coast. The continuing work of Mr. Moore will eventually expand to include raising funds to secure important island properties in Mahone Bay and elsewhere along the south coast of Nova Scotia.
Early in the campaign Mr. John Risley, a prominent business owner and resident of the Chester area was approached to assist the KCC and NCC with the Campaign for Gaff Point. Initially Mr. Risley, committed to a $100,000 donation and in the spring of 2002 revised that amount to a total of $300,000. The engagement of Mr. Risley in this project has allowed NCC to recruit him as the regional co-chair of the Campaign for Conservation for the Atlantic Region. Yet another demonstration of the positive spin off effects the Gaff Point project has had on NCC and the community.
The Campaign for Gaff Point has served to significantly advance interest in conservation on Nova Scotia's South Shore. As is so often the case, the interest of those "from away" in the preservation of our coastline, has increased local interest in the long-term preservation and stewardship of natural areas.
Our experience in fundraising for this project will require that we assess our strategies for conservation work in this part of Canada, in order to ensure that more prospects for support can be generated for future projects. Atlantic Canada remains a difficult place to find economic support for conservation, and a more targeted strategy involving summer residents, perhaps back home where they live rather than during the summer months in Nova Scotia, needs to be tested.
NCC came into the Gaff Point Project after the land securement work had begun and was faced with the need to build relationships with members of the local community, most notably Chester, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, on very short notice. KCC performed magnificently with respect to its local fund raising efforts and showed enthusiasm throughout the history of the project. There were few people however within that organization who were sufficiently connected to the community to lead any effective major gift development. The relationship between the KCC and the NCC has continued to develop and grow as the project for Gaff Point has evolved. The work of Mauritz Erhard, NCC's local development officer, has fostered close ties between the two organizations that has kept the KCC involved and active in fund raising for the project.
As we look toward the future we find the opportunities endless. We have, with your support successfully protected Gaff Point. There is still some work to be done and it will get done, but we are now able to see light at the end of the tunnel. With this light we are able to look at other pressing concerns. Prospect High Head just outside of Halifax is one such project. We have been asked to look at the Islands of Mahone Bay and other prospects arise monthly. The sad thing is that we are not able to take everyone that comes our way.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your gift to future generations.