Man has axe to grind with nature conservancy

Josh Pennell
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Area resident concerned about continued use of lands

The sound of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) moving into a man’s neighbourhood on the Salmonier Line isn’t a soothing one for him.

The Salmonier River and part of the land that’s the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Salmonier River Conservation Project.

“Leave it alone,” Richard Didham says.

Didham lives in Mount Carmel on the Salmonier Line near where the NCC aims to purchase two properties in Mount Carmel-Mitchell’s Brook-St. Catherines. That will add 278 acres to the 158 acres of land already protected by the NCC in the area. As with other lands acquired by the conservancy, these are privately owned pieces of property that the owners wish to sell to the NCC.

Leaving it alone is exactly what the NCC wants to do with it, according to Andrew Holland, communications and government relations director for the NCC.

“Nothing changes. It’s accessible to the public for walking, hiking, bird watching, photography, playing hide-and-go-seek with your kid, geo-caching, canoeing, kayaking and like recreational uses. And in addition to that, legal activities like legal hunting, fishing and trapping,” Holland says.

Didham is skeptical that activities like hunting and fishing will remain accessible.

“I don’t trust the people, b’y. That’s the whole thing,” he says.

Didham is afraid strict rules on land use will come into effect, even though Holland assures that’s not the case, and points out it’s not the case for the more than 13,000 acres the group already owns in the province.

“The suggestion that we don’t want people to use these lands is silly,” Holland says.

“We don’t put a bubble over it and watch the grass grow. We want people to use the lands.”

One thing that isn’t allowed on NCC land, though, is wood-cutting, and that is a point that’s knawing away at Didham.

“We’re buying these lands to protect the forest. To have people cut wood on them would be contrary to the reason why we’re buying the land,” says Holland.

Since the NCC is acquiring the land from private owners, technically it’s not as if people in the community are losing any legal right to cut wood on the land, as they wouldn’t have had a permit to do so anyway.

Really, they never needed one, though. Didham says the landowners allowed people on their land to cut wood. This issue of no cutting is the thin end of the wedge for Didham. If the land is so pristine to the NCC, Didham has a question about its natural stewards.

“Who kept it that way? We did. So what are we doing wrong that they’ve got to come in and tell us how to look after that forest? It’s not right b’y. It’s just not right.”

Holland says the NCC doesn’t like fires on its land, either. The land is preserved by the NCC for people to use, though, in any legal way and it’s only the already existing laws that govern how people can use their property.

“In fact, we often rely on local residents to quite often be our eyes and ears in case there’s fires, in case there’s illegal dumping, in case there’s other issues on our property that we need to be made aware of,” he says.

The NCC — which is a non-profit charity — still has just over $10,000 to raise before it can purchase the lands. The NCC says there is a strong possibility there will be footpaths and trails put on the land once the organization has it.

Didham held a meeting on the issue Saturday in St. Catherines.

• This story was updated on Jan. 10.

Organizations: NCC

Geographic location: Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel-Mitchell

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Recent comments

  • Robert
    January 10, 2016 - 11:52

    My experience over 50 year with those who salmon fish on the Salmonier River is that they would fight over the last fish in the river. And I never trusted the wardens who patrolled the river because they were much too friendly with the crowd who fished it.

  • Skeptical Cynic
    January 10, 2016 - 11:33

    This Didham individual seems to be under the grossly mistaken impression that he somehow has right of possession to that land. Fortunately those who refuse to inform themselves as to the noble mandate of the NCC, preferring instead to wallow in their own insular paranoia and ignorance, have no absolutely legal right to interfere with this worthwhile endeavour.

  • Solution
    January 10, 2016 - 11:04

    Let him cut the windfalls, but leave the branches to feed the next generation of trees. Otherwise the windfalls just rot away, wasted.

  • Me
    January 10, 2016 - 11:01

    It appears Didham is interested in preserving the property, for his own use. However he doesn't own the property. If my neighbour wants to cut down his tree, I can't stop him. If he let me cut trees on his property, and he sells the land so the new owner doesn't want trees cut down, then I can't cut trees. Pretty simple.

  • Rich
    January 10, 2016 - 10:49

    Richard Didham has every reason to be concerned ! This land is not being used for conversation , its being used so the Federal Government can borrow against it...Nixon used this trick in the US back in the 70's when he created the EPA and put millions of acres of land under Federal Government control so they could borrow against it

  • Don II
    January 10, 2016 - 10:35

    The Nature Conservancy of Canada will soon find out that there is absolutely NO respect for Private property ownership in Newfoundland and Labrador where the Government of Newfoundland claims [without factual basis] to own 96.5% of the land in the Province. Private land owners have learned that erecting Private Property and NO Dumping signs is a waste of time and money as those signs are regularly shot full of buckshot or are torn down by trespassers. Unlawful dumping of garbage, unlawful camp fires, unlawful hunting of animals, unlawful cutting of trees, unlawful use of snowmobiles or ATV's and general trespassing on Privately owned land is a common practice in Newfoundland and Labrador! The Private landowners who try to protect their land from abuse usually end up having their land covered in garbage, their cottages vandalized and their car tires slashed so it is easier and safer just to let the trespassers do as they please.

  • Darrell
    January 10, 2016 - 10:33

    My only question is why do we need some outside entity to come here & buy up land to protect it? It just seems so wrong!

  • reality check
    January 10, 2016 - 09:35

    many Newfoundlanders express this attitude...that they should not be barred from doing anything they want to do, anywhere. rules do not apply to them. him. he should be ignored. and if he's cutting illegally , charge him.

  • Backtrack
    January 09, 2016 - 09:13

    Mr. Didham seems to think he himself owns the Salmonier and St. Catherine's areas---- his public brushes and infringements regarding salmon angling are known. He has had some exposure in the past in the Telegram; he despises our wildlife officials: Google Richard Didham Newfoundland or visit

  • Kev
    January 08, 2016 - 19:36

    Didham is another fine example of the Newfoundland ethos at work. If you can't kill it or understand it, then hate it.