Geology and Landscape Development
North of the Cobequid Hills, between Wentworth and West Apple River, lies a hilly, dissected terrain underlain by Cumberland Group sandstones and conglomerates (see Figure 5). The strata dip northwards away from the Cobequid Hills and proceed through folds of increasing wavelength down to the Northumberland Plain (Unit 521).
Following the retreat of ice across the Cobequids at the end of the ice age, permafrost conditions may have existed, because associated soil structures are found in this area.
This Unit is dissected by a primary watershed boundary. The Black River is the major river in the eastern portion and drains north into the Northumberland Strait (Unit 914). In most of the western portion, many second- and third-order streams feed into the Maccan River, which drains into Cumberland Basin. Tributaries in the most western tip feed into the Apple River, which drains into Chignecto Bay (sub-Unit 913b).
Bogs and marginal fens are associated with the stream systems. There is a large concentration of meromictic freshwater marsh on the north side of the Maccan River inlet (associated with Unit 523) and up the Nappan River.
Conductivity is relatively low, and pH levels average 6.5.
Soils in this Unit are either relatively coarse-textured, well-drained, and derived from sandstones and conglomerates, or finer textured clay loams developed from shale and mudstone. In the former category are the gravelly sandy loams of the Rodney and Westbrook series. In the latter category are Queens, Kingsville, Joggins, and Diligence soils. In the river valleys, Hebert soils have developed on outwash deposits. Throughout the Unit, small areas of Economy soils, which are strongly acid and saturated for much of the year, occur on poorly drained or gently sloping sites. Commenting on the slow recovery of forests after fire on the conglomerate areas, C.D. Howe wrote in 1912: "To the westward the conglomerate belt has been severely burnt. From the effects of burning, the conglomerate recovers nearly as slowly as does the quartzite. On the conglomerate at the headwaters of Apple river, there is a fairly good forest in which spruce prevails, although interrupted by frequent barrens and bogs."
Conifers and mixed stands predominate, with Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Red Maple, and birch being abundant. On the well-drained upper slopes of the high rolling hills, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and American Beech are common. White Pine and Jack Pine are common on old burns.
|Hardwood Stand, Fenwick, Cumberland County
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Moose occur, particularly near Shulie Lake and the Little Forks watershed. There are some deer, and various locations are important for deer wintering, such as the Thundering Hill-West Brook area. Bird breeding distributions group either with sub-Unit 521a or Unit 311. One apparent exception is the Vesper Sparrow, which is more widespread in Unit 581, where more of its habitat is present than anywhere else in Nova Scotia. Wetlands near Newville Lake are significant for waterfowl. Freshwater fishes include White Sucker, White Perch, Yellow Perch, and Banded Killifish.
Coal mining at Springhill took place from the mid-nineteenth century until 1970, when the mine was closed.
Now the heat from former mining tunnels is harnessed to generate geothermal energy for the town of Springhill. Areas of coal-mine tailings near Chignecto and Springhill are sparsely vegetated decades after the mines were abandoned.
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The deeper, less sandy soils and less extensive fires of the past combine with the greater distance from Fundy influence to make this Unit more productive for forestry and agriculture than most other Units in Region 500. Farmland replaced former floodplain forests along the Maccan River, West Brook, and River Phillip valleys. Not all the small farms higher up the slopes have been abandoned, and much of the farmland in this Unit is cultivated for lowbush blueberry. Sand and gravel deposits are found throughout this area, and sites of former quarry operations are used recreationally at Wentworth Station.
Sites of Special Interest
- Fenwick (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 5) - deciduous forest, primarily Sugar Maple, with a Sugar Maple camp
Provincial Parks and Park Reserves
Proposed Parks and Protected Areas System includes Natural Landscapes 18 and 20.
- Newville Lake (Highway 2)
|T2.4 The Carboniferous Basin|
|T8.1 Freshwater Hydrology|
|T9.1 Soil-forming Factors|
|T10.1 Vegetation Change|
|T11.13 Freshwater Fishes|
|T12.3 Geology and Resources|
|T12.10 Plants and Resources|
|T12.11 Animals and Resources|
|H3.5 Freshwater Lotic|
|H4.4 Freshwater Marsh|
|H6.1 Hardwood Forest (Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Beech Association)|
|H6.2 Softwood Forest (Pine Association)|