In October 19, 2002 Michael, Nicole and Georg Ernst, John Meisner, Ron Myers, Gord Tate and Warren Zwicker met at 189 Hirtle Cove Rd., for the first meeting of the future Mahone Islands Conservation Association.
We discussed increased development of the Mahone Bay Islands, the possibility of bringing an island into public ownership, and should we continue to meet.
Fortunately, we decided yes, and we took the first steps towards MICA’s establishment. We soon realised that there was strong community interest in our group. Over 200 people attended our first public meeting in March 2003. Many appreciated our leadership to acquire a publicly owned island, while others felt we might impact their plans for island development.
Our first year was an intense one. We had to choose a name, define our Mission, draft by laws, welcome new directors, establish community contacts, build up a membership and fundraise.
We were aware of developer’s interest in the islands. Large houses were planned for Kaulback, Rafuse and Strum Islands, Masons had been subdivided, and 30 lots were planned for Coveys, and other islands were for sale at inflated prices.
Local MLA the Honourable Michael Baker gave us sound advice when he suggested ‘…you get the support and I can support you’. He opened many doors for us, and in 2018 he was the first recipient of the MICA Conservation Award, in recognition of his commitment to our Mission to preserve and enhance traditional access to the islands.
For five years I had the privilege of being the MICA Chair. During that time we built a strong base for future development. As one supporter said, ‘Once you have acquired Andrews, everything else will fall into place’.
Nicole and I both feel it is one of the most important initiatives in which we have been involved.
MICA is a legacy project, for future generations.
Although each island is special, these are three we tried to visit every year – Goat for the lovely beach and fossils, Coveys for its history and varied landscapes, and Long – a very special place, that gave us the added bonus of an exciting return sail to Hirtle Cove.
To those who have supported MICA since 2002, you deserve everyone’s thanks for helping create an incredible organization out of such humble beginnings.
Note that as of August 2022, Michael and Nikki Ernst have moved to British Columbia, so they are now MICA Champs from afar! Michael will continue as a Director and long time MICA supporter.