Thursday, May 23, 2024

Scott Beaver recognized with Lt. Gov.’s Award for Conservation

SMRA president shares honour with hard-working colleagues

  • May 1 2024
  • By Joanne Jordan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

HALIFAX — The president of the St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA) is the recipient of the 2024 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Conservation.

Scott Beaver received the honour during the annual banquet for the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and Nova Scotia Salmon Association (NSSA) April 25.

“It was wonderful to receive recognition from the Lieutenant Governor [Arthur J. LeBlanc], ASF and NSSA. It felt great,” Beaver told The Journal in an email interview after the festivities.

Beaver thanked his peers with SMRA, a non-profit organization committed to restoring, preserving and protecting the St. Mary’s River ecosystem.

“The work we have done over my nine years as president certainly comes from a team effort. We have a great hard working board of directors and volunteer pool who are all passionate river folks. We are usually working on many projects; always so busy,” he said.

With that often hectic schedule in mind, Beaver said that “it was nice to change it up and attend the gala dinner with my family and friends,” while everyone from the St. Mary’s contingent enjoyed a “fantastic evening.”

He also had the chance to speak at the event, after accepting the award.

“Something cool is happening in Canada right now,” Beaver told the audience. “The federal government has come up with an initiative, and that initiative is protecting freshwater ecosystems, kind of in their entirety, and that is called ecologically significant areas.”

He explained that there are only a few rivers “that lead the way in case studies and are on the verge of nomination (for that designation).”

“And, I’m very happy to say that St. Mary’s is one of those rivers in Canada, and we might just be the first one nominated,” Beaver added.

He clarified it was a nomination and not yet a designation, and asked for the support of those in attendance when they receive word of a possible nomination.

In his remarks, Beaver outlined how the preservation of rivers and waterways is imperative to the recovery of salmon stocks and their survival. He also shared the history and the importance of the salmon recovery strategy plan, which was developed and implemented years earlier by those who first endeavored to ensure the future of salmon in the St. Mary’s River.

“They laid out what we needed to do for the next 10 years. In one way, that has made it fairly easy for us at St. Mary’s, because those guys did the hard work for us in laying out a plan,” Beaver said. “So many aspects that we have tackled were in that recovery strategy with salmon on the river. You’d think they’re simple, but actually they’re difficult.”

Beaver touched briefly on one of the battles he said he and others who are striving to save the river’s ecological system have been fighting, including industries coming to a significant ecological area like St. Mary’s.

“It’s been difficult, especially with the gold mine coming at us,” he stated, “But, if we look at habitat restoration as our number one…we set a goal 10 years ago that we would try to do 60 linear kilometres of river. I’m happy to say that we’re over 30 – we’re over half way there.”

He thanked those who helped on the river, adding, “We wouldn’t be here without them.”

Beaver also spoke of the importance of partnerships, including the one between the SMRA and the Department of Ocean’s and Fisheries (DFO).

“We’re putting 400,000-ish little fingerlings back into the river every year because of that. We need these partnerships, it doesn’t just happen,’ he said.

In his speech, Beaver also shared news of an upcoming SMRA project.

“We’ve commissioned a book to be written for us. It’s big. The book is on the St. Mary’s; its first peoples – Mi’kmaw; second people – us.”

Beaver said the book, being written by Alec Bruce (also a reporter for this newspaper), will include history and geography pertaining to the river, along with information on famous anglers who visited the St. Mary’s, including Babe Ruth and Michael J. Fox.

“We are also going to talk about some of our fights, some of our hardships we’ve had to go through with big industry,” he explained, referencing the proposed gold mine for Cochrane’s Hill.

The SMRA president added, “We do a lot down in St. Mary’s and all of our affiliate rivers. I think we can do great things in Nova Scotia.”

Beaver expressed his appreciation to his family – his parents, children and his wife – for their continued support.

“Guys like me can’t do the things that we do if the family’s don’t support them…..my passion and the stuff we do on the river can only be done with family support, so thank you.”

He also thanked the committee who planned the awards banquet, as well as the NSSA and the ASF for their support.

“It’s big. It makes our rivers a better place to be, it really does.”