Joint Management Committee Inc. custodians for the Shearstown Estuary for the Towns of Bay Roberts & Spaniard’s Bay, a birder’s paradise the ‘Jewel in our Midst.’
The Shearstown Estuary has traditionally been a biodiversity hotspot and is provincially recognized as a significant birding destination, acting as a breeding ground and staging area for multiple avian species. The conserved domain of the estuary contains some 135 acres of salt marshes, shared ownership, and responsibility for a total of 195.6 acres a rare wetland type in NL.
The estuary is a shallow body of water where freshwater from Shearstown River and Shearstown Pond meets and mixes with saltwater from Arnie’s Pond, Spaniard’s Bay. The resulting mixture of water is termed brackish or partially salty. Shearstown River, Shearstown Pond, Arnie’s Pond and the shallow inner reaches of Spaniard’s Bay comprises the estuary. The salinity or saltiness of the water varies considerably throughout the estuary with time and location and is dependent on tides, winds, and precipitation.
Recognizing its ecological importance, on June 6, 1997, this wetland area was conserved via a partnership between the provincial government and the bordering Towns of Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay; serving as a physical and symbolic link between both towns.
This estuary is partially naturally enclosed by a rocky beach barrier but has also been closed off partially by the construction of the defunct CN Railway berm, with water flow maintained by a trestle bridge opening. The JMC made significant improvements such as the observation lookout, informational signs, the culverts for better water flow and upgrades to the walking trail along the railway berm and trestle bridge.
It has been the impetus for the many collaborative projects and is the focus of the Joint Management Committee, a genuinely unique committee tasked with fostering of wetland areas of Arnie’s Pond and Shearstown Pond.
This beautiful estuary was influential in receiving three highly prestigious awards for preservation and increase water flow to the wetlands.
- 2009 awarded the Torngat Municipal Achievement Award in the category of Environmental Sustainability.
- 2017 Bay Roberts received the Community in Bloom’s Bronze Award
- 2018, chairperson from Spaniard’s Bay was one in five recipients across Canada to win the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the office of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada in part for her eco-friendly involvement.
You can walk entirely around the Shearstown Pond area of the wetlands from either of the two entrances, Muddy Hole Road or Shearstown Road and walk across the old CNR railway berm and trestle bridge to see the many species of wildlife. Cross over the Conception Bay Hwy to the pull off lookout at Arnie’s Pond; this area is a premier breeding site for an array of gulls and beach-nesting birds. Watch for migrating shorebirds and wading birds and rare species during migration times. (Informational signs)