News release

Urban Wilderness Protected

On the eve of Earth Day 2009, Nova Scotia can boast of a unique protected wilderness area located just minutes from the downtown core of its capital city.

Government announced in 2007 that Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area would be designated a protected area after extensive consultation with the public, interest groups and the municipality. That work is complete and the designation is now final.

"This new wilderness area demonstrates government's priority to protect the environment," said David Morse, Minister of Environment. "We are committed to protecting 12 per cent of our land mass so Nova Scotia will remain an environmentally healthy and sustainable place for people to live, work, play, and visit."

Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area is a place for hiking, paddling, and swimming just a short distance from Halifax Regional Municipality's urban population. It lies between Highway 103 and the Bicentennial Highway, adjacent to the Bayers Lake Business Park. It is on 1,312 hectares (about 3,242 acres) of Crown land; about three quarters the size of the Halifax peninsula.

Community and environmental groups requested the area be designated. Its protection was also promoted by individual Nova Scotians, such as Bob and Wendy McDonald who do nature surveys and lead public hikes through the area.

"On behalf of any and all Nova Scotians who like exploring our wilderness areas as much as we do, we are thrilled this near-urban getaway to nature is now protected forever," said Bob McDonald, a nature enthusiast based in Halifax. "What a great tribute to this week's Earth Day."

The new protected area will benefit those interested in outdoor recreation, tourism, research and education, biodiversity conservation, and watershed protection. Protecting trees, which help clean the air of carbon, also slows climate change.

Community groups, recreation and environmental interests have advocated for protecting this wilderness for more than a decade.

The wilderness area supports municipal plans to establish a regional park, as stated in HRM's regional planning strategy.

Wilderness protection designation prohibits urban development, forestry, mining and other activities that may impact the ecology of the area.

Study and consultation for designating the area included a socioeconomic analysis, a public consultation, and consultation with Mi'kmaq First Nations.

The new wilderness area is part of progress toward meeting the government's commitment to protect 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's land base by 2015, as stated in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act.

For more information about these or Nova Scotia's other protected areas, visit www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia's newest protected wilderness area is just minutes from HRM's downtown.

Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area is adjacent to Bayer's Lake Business Park.

It's about 3/4's the size of the Halifax peninsula.

Minister of Environment David Morse says the area of lakes, woods and rivers, is part of government's environmental protection priority.

The wilderness designation prohibits development, forestry and mining. It encourages hiking, paddling and swimming.

Details are on the government website.

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Media Contact:

Bruce Nunn
Department of Environment 902-424-6427 Cell: 902-476-6454 E-mail: