Friends of Redtail Society is a western Pictou County, Nova Scotia, grassroots organization formed in 2007 to purchase 313 acres slated for an industrial clearcut. The Society is now the guardian and student of the integrity and resilience of this land, relating to it not as a commodity but as a community to which we belong and which we share with the other beings present.
How The Society Was Created
The MacBeth Road in west Pictou County is a relatively remote gravel road, which climbs to an elevation of about 500ft., across two broad brooks through forest and reclaimed farmland. There are few human inhabitants here, but it is home to numerous deer, owl, coyote, bobcat, fisher, bear and many other species.
In September 2006, residents of the road were alerted to a pending clear cut. Stakes erected by Neenah paper marked the location of a proposed logging road, a first step in the industrial extraction operation. Concerned residents organized quickly to inquire about the intended operations and seek a balanced plan that would benefit the forest, the extended bioregion and all those with a connection to it. The group soon learned that although Neenah Paper was still responsible for cutting the land, it now actually belonged to Wagner, an American land management company who, just the year before bought 500,000 acres of Neenah’s land in Nova Scotia.
Unable to establish a dialogue with those in authority the group staged a public awareness campaign. Billy MacDonald, long-time nature educator and founder of Redtail Nature Awareness, pitched a tent on the roadside to keep a vigil while others contacted media and called for support from the larger community. Many people visited over the five-day period in September and numerous signs were posted along the road calling for preservation of this land and for more responsible land use.
Through this quick action, the group was successful in staving off the clear cut and establishing a dialogue with Wagner. The company offered in principle to sell the land if an agreed price could be reached. The Friends of Redtail Society was formed and registered as a non-profit society to negotiate a purchase price for the land and to raise the money through community fundraising and collective action.
In July of 2008, after nearly two years of challenging negotiations involving market evaluations and pursuit of alternatives, the Society signed a purchase and sale agreement with Wagner.