Mike Dembeck

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Number of Completed Projects (2013-2014)
  • 1
  • Acres Conserved
  • 606
  • Land Value
  • $381,500
  • Stewardship Volunteers
  • 32
Mike Dembeck

Not alone in the Grassy Place

For years, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador has been trying to assess whether the threatened Newfoundland marten was present in southwest Newfoundland.

In March 2014, we collaborated with scientist John Gosse to find out for ourselves whether the species is present in the Grassy Place, a nature reserve in southwest Newfoundland.

This research project involved the use of hair snags placed at key locations around the 3,700-acre (1,500-hectare) protected area, as well as the observation of tracks in the snow. In March 2014, Gosse visited the remote property a number of times by snowshoe and skis to monitor these sites.

The DNA analysis from the hair snags found four individual marten using our property! This was great news, as it confirmed that marten occur further southwest on the Island of Newfoundland than was previously known.

Last Spike of the CPR - Craigellachie, British Columbia, Canada.

Railway ties to a conservation legacy

In “The last spike,” perhaps one of the most well-known photographs commemorating the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Sir William Van Horne stands behind Donald Alexander Smith as he drives the last spike into the railway.

Van Horne later became the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, then purchased land in Crabbes River in 1900. This year, the Estate of Sir William Van Horne donated 606 acres (245 hectares) at Crabbes River to NCC so that its natural values can be conserved.

Extending from Bonne Bay to the Codroy Valley on Newfoundland’s west coast, large contiguous areas of forest provide some of the last remaining habitat on the Island for the Newfoundland marten.

The property is primarily forested by black spruce with isolated stands of white pine — an increasingly uncommon species in Newfoundland. In addition, small stands of rare red pine are found on the property.

A number of rare plants are found in the riparian habitat of the Crabbes River. In addition to the unique flora present along its banks, the Crabbes River hosts wild Atlantic salmon and is a provincially designated salmon river.


Sandy Point Island, where we’ve secured our 10th property, is uninhabited now but was at one time the home of pirates and smugglers in the 1700s and later the largest settlement on the west coast of Newfoundland.


Mapping the Big Land

After several years of collaboration, NCC and our partners have finished the Labrador Nature Atlas — a “one-stop biodiversity hub” for exploring, accessing and sharing information about Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique landscapes, plants and animals.

The primary objective of the project was to organize, improve and share information about Labrador’s natural environment and develop new ways to assess the information so it can be considered and tested in anticipation of the land-use decisions that will arise.

A three-year partnership between NCC and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, made it possible to freely share ecological information on the atlas. This site is a “living document” that can be updated over time as new information becomes available.

The atlas will be used by Aboriginal organizations, students, professors, community members, land-management professionals and GIS professionals.

David Elliott