News release

Province Creates Near-urban Wilderness Area

Nova Scotians will have a chance to explore, study and enjoy nature in a new protected wilderness area next to the province's largest urban population.

Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will be within the boundary of Nova Scotia's capital, Halifax Regional Municipality.

The province will designate 1,350 hectares (3,350 acres) of Crown lands between Highway 103 and the Bicentennial Highway, adjacent to the Bayers Lake Business Park.

"This unique wilderness area, located within city municipal boundaries, will ensure that people can more easily experience the rejuvenating powers of nature within their own community," said Mark Parent, Minister of Environment and Labour, at a ceremony today, Oct. 30, in Hammonds Plains, Halifax Regional Municipality.

The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act commits the province to protecting 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's land mass by 2015. Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will help meet that provincial goal.

The wilderness area designation will protect numerous interconnected, undeveloped lakes and wetlands; rugged woodlands with old red oak and red spruce stands; and a rare arctic-alpine plant called Mountain Sandwort. It will also help protect exceptional outdoor education and wilderness recreation opportunities such as hiking, swimming, cross-country skiing, canoeing and angling.

"I would like to thank the Department of Natural Resources, led by my colleague David Morse, for helping to make this unique near-urban wilderness area a reality," said Mr. Parent.

Blue Mountain–Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will complement Halifax Regional Municipality's regional planning strategy, which includes creating a large park in that region.

"I'm very pleased with the province's collaborative approach and support for HRM's regional plan," said Mayor Peter Kelly. "This will help us move forward with HRM's plans for a regional park in the area."

The environmental value of the lands was highlighted in an environmental assessment report into the proposed Highway 113.

The independent report notes that the proposed highway route is outside the area worthy of protection.

The wilderness-area designation addresses the report's recommendation that lands south of the proposed highway route be protected.

For more information about Nova Scotia's 34 protected wilderness areas, visit the Environment and Labour Department's website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/protectedareas .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia's capital is about to get a new protected wilderness area.

Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will include over 13-hundred hectares of Crown land within the Halifax Regional Municipality, between Highway 103 and the Bicentennial Highway adjacent to the Bayers Lake Business Park.

The area includes many undeveloped lakes and wetlands, the rare arctic-alpine plant called Mountain Sandwort, and old red oak and red spruce stands.

Minister of Environment and Labour Mark Parent says establishing a wilderness area next to a large urban population ensures more people have easy access to nature.

The recommendation to protect the area came from an environmental assessment of the proposed Highway 113. The highway's proposed route will be outside the wilderness area.

For more information, visit the Environment and Labour Department's website (www.gov.ns.ca/enla/protectedareas).

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Media Contacts:

Bruce Nunn
Environment and Labour 902-424-6427 Cell: 476 6454 E-mail:
Diane LeBlanc
Natural Resources 902-424-2354