Western Crown Land Planning Process Frequently Asked Questions
Click a topic heading below to see Questions and Answers on the Western Crown Land Planning Process.
Mi'kmaw Forestry Initiative
1. How have the Mi'kmaq been involved in the Western Crown Land Planning Process?
The Mi'kmaq have been active participants. A Mi'kmaw representative participated on the Province's technical planning team and the Province consulted with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs. Part of the Planning Process involved identifying land for a separate Mi'kmaw forestry initiative.
2. What is a Mi'kmaw forestry initiative?
Government and the Mi'kmaq are working together to identify some land within the Western Region that can be reserved for the Mi'kmaq to implement forestry initiatives. The Mi'kmaw Chiefs have been working to develop economic opportunities in areas of traditional interest to the Mi'kmaw people.
3. Why is the government working on a Mi’kmaw Forestry initiative?
Acquiring lands of Mi'kmaw interest was one of the priorities expressed in the Bowater Mersey Pulp and Paper Investment (2011) Act. During discussions about the land purchases with the Assembly, Mi'kmaq-specific forest management opportunities were identified as a priority.
4. I live in Annapolis County and know there is a large block of land, next to Bear River, purchased by the Crown. Is that land for the Mi'kmaq?
The parcel near Bear River was part of the land purchased from Irving in 2010 to address Mi'kmaw land interests. It is Crown land which is being managed collaboratively with the Mi'kmaq.
5. Can the public access the Bear River parcel?
Public access to these lands is not affected; however, the public must take care if the land is under a forestry licence or work is being done on the land.
6. Why is land being held for the Mi'kmaq?
Discussions are underway to address outstanding treaty and aboriginal rights. This is called the Made-in-Nova Scotia Process and involves the Mi'kmaq, the province and the federal government. Because Nova Scotia has traditionally had the second lowest amount of Crown lands of all the Provinces, as new lands were purchased some parcels were identified for consideration in the negotiations.
Access and Roads
1. How many gates are opened and where are they?
There are a total of 27 gates on the former Bowater lands. 13 are open to the public. The gates are located at various access points to the three main blocks of land - St. Margarets, Rossignol and Medway. Maps of the gate sites are available on the DNR website and at regional DNR offices.
2. How many stay closed and why didn't you open all of them?
Nine of the 27 gates remain closed because they are located on private land and were only used by Bowater under legal agreements. We are working with the land owners to determine which of these we might be able to open in the future. Another three gates remain closed because they protect sensitive moose habitats and were put in place for that purpose. Two gates in the Medway block will be locked while the Province completes the Parks and Protected Areas designation process.
3. How many kilometres of roads are there and is government going to maintain the roads?
Bowater system includes 2,500 km of forest roads and approximately 1,700km of those roads were opened on April 29, 2013. The province has dedicated additional funding for the maintenance of Crown roads and infrastructure.
Many of the roads are open; however roads that lead to sensitive environmental areas will be decommissioned to protect this wonderful natural resource for future generations. The more careful people are when they use the open forest roads, the longer they will last.
4. Environmental voices were opposed to this decision—what do you say to them?
We are protecting sensitive areas by keeping some gates closed and by erecting new gates or barricades, along with public education and local stewardship. We are working with local Off-Highway Vehicle clubs and anglers as some of the good stewards of the land. All motorized access is limited to the roadbeds.
All users need to help take care of all our Crown lands. The Department will work with local and provincial clubs and organizations.
5. Have you stepped up enforcement patrols to cover all these extra roads?
All users need to help take care of the new Crown lands. The Department is working with local and provincial clubs and organizations.
Our enforcement officials have identified these roads on their patrol schedules and ensure we have a visible presence. But it’s about stewardship and working with the community too. So we also have met with stakeholders such as local Off-Highway Vehicle groups and ATVANS (ATV-Association of Nova Scotia) to establish self-policing and future partnerships with their Trail Wardens.
Monitoring and Enforcement
1. With few people working on the former Bowater land, the "eyes and ears" that used to monitor activities are gone. People will start poaching and cutting wood if there is not visible control of the land. How will the department police the former Bowater lands, while decisions are being made on future use?
The department has taken on the responsibility for monitoring the lands. Now that we are issuing interim licences for timber harvesting, more users will be on the land, which will help with this monitoring process.
12% Goal and Land Protection
1. What about the 12% land? Was it included in the planning process?
The land identified through the 12% land protection process will be reserved conservation. This does not impact the economic use of the remainder of the western Crown lands. A separate consultation took place for those lands across the province and in July 2013 the final Parks and Protected Areas Plan was released. Government is now working to legally designate those lands.
2. How is the Parks and Protected Areas consultation different from, or connected to, this one?
The Parks and Protected Areas plan consultation was the final step in determining how to achieve the 12% land protection goal. Parks and other protected areas are identified in the updated conceptual plan.
3. Did the 1.5 million acres under review in the planning process include the Tobeatic and other already designated wilderness areas or parks?
No. The 1.5 million acres did not include any lands designated for protection before January 1, 2013.
1. Did the values developed through the Natural Resources Strategy consultation process inform this planning process?
This planning process is a direct result of the strategy and the values developed and adopted through that process – sustainability, transparency, diversity, collaboration, and informed decision making. We built on what we learned through the strategy process to develop the plan.
2. Who will make decisions regarding the way the land will be used?
DNR will make recommendations to the Minister and Cabinet. We will issue RFPs for leases and licenses to create a public process for the opportunities. This will provide greater transparency.
3. Was the updated conceptual plan made using spatial data?
The conceptual plan is a high level document which uses spatial data we gathered from across government and through the consultation process. We have a great deal of data within government and from Bowater which we looked at (layers of data including minerals, wildlife, forestry, water, wind energy, agriculture, eco districts etc.).
4. Is the Government still committed to generating $4 million in revenue from the land to cover the debt costs?
Yes, however, it will take three years to generate the full $4 million.
5. The Transition Advisory Committee had many good suggestions for use of the former Bowater lands and for economic development in the area. One recommendation was to hire two community advisors (paid staff) to assist with community development projects. What is the status of this recommendation?
The Province, through the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, has provided funding to hire two Senior Economic Development staff; one in the Region of Queens Municipality and the other the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg.
1. How did you decide where the community forest pilot project would be located?
Submissions were reviewed and rated. One proposal was approved – in the Medway area. The planning process balanced all the interests and requirements associated with the land to ensure that the greatest economic, social and environmental benefits will be derived from the Crown land.
2. What is going on with the Community Forest Program? Can we get an update?
One pilot project has been approved – for about 15,000 hectares in the Medway area (see map). The department is working with the pilot group to set the parameters of the project.
3. Who will control access in the lands set aside for the community forest pilot project(s)? Will it be the people who are running the community forest or DNR?
The Province will be responsible for public access.
Access to Data
1. Is it possible to access the biological data that was formerly owned by Bowater? Who owns that data now?
The data belongs to DNR. Requests for access to data can be directed through the Renewable Resources Branch for consideration (forestry and wildlife divisions). Check the Department web site as significant amounts of provincial level data for wildlife and forest cover are already posted at www.novascotia.ca/natr
1. Are camps on the former Bowarter land being taken down?
All camps that were licensed/leased through Bowater were be offered Crown or wilderness area licenses/leases. Those converted to Wilderness area campsite licenses may have access restrictions on them in future. Camps are only removed for violations of leases (non-payment of rent or other activities), or if they are illegal (squatters). If an illegal camp is found it is posted and if the camp has been there for a number of years, the "owner" is given an opportunity to obtain a Crown lease
2. Will the department give those who don't currently have a campsite on Crown land a chance to get a new campsite location in Western Nova Scotia?
The department's policy of not issuing new campsite leases on Crown land is still in place (established in 1995). No changes to this policy are contemplated at this time.