Wilderness Protection Plans Announced

Environment

October 19, 2009 12:13 PM

Hikers, hunters, anglers, artists, paddlers, birdwatchers and other nature lovers will have an opportunity to enjoy even more protected wilderness just a stone's throw from
Nova Scotia's largest urban population.

More than 8,000 hectares (about 20,000 acres) of land and watercourses on the Chebucto Peninsula, in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), is being considered as Nova Scotia's newest protected area.

The announcement of the candidate wilderness area, to be called Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area, was made today, Oct. 19, at an event marking the designation last month of Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness area, about 15,000 hectares near the eastern shore of HRM.

"We are protecting wilderness near the city so today's families, and future generations in HRM, can experience and benefit from the wonders of nature close to home," said Mr. Belliveau, Minister of Environment. "It also moves us closer to our goal of protecting at least 12 per cent of Nova Scotia’s land base by 2015."

Before it can become legally protected under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, there will be public consultation and discussion with interested parties to finalize the area's boundaries. A public consultation process will be announced in the near future.

"Natural Resources is pleased to work closely with the Department of Environment, on the designation of new protected areas for the benefit of all Nova Scotians," said John MacDonell, Minister of Natural Resources.

Once designated, the wilderness area will protect important natural features of the Chebucto Peninsula. This will include portions of three watersheds and many lakes, wetlands and stretches of small rivers. The peninsula is also home to a small population of the endangered mainland moose and a rare plant, the Mountain Sandwort, found in rock barrens.

At the event, the minister also announced the formation of a working committee between the departments of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure the planning of protected areas proceeds efficiently.

The committee's work will be informed by a report expected soon from the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, a joint scientific working group of provincial non-government organizations and major forest companies. It will identify the province's most important ecological sites and ways to minimize the impact of land protection on the forestry industry.

The province also intends to consult widely to evaluate options to establish a large, wilderness area within Crown lands in and near Chignecto Game Sanctuary in Cumberland County.

The evaluation will be conducted by the Department of Environment, in co-operation with the Department of Natural Resources.

Initial consultation will take place with interested parties, including community, business and environment stakeholders and organizations. Fully understanding all concerns and views will help government make informed decisions before developing proposed boundaries for the wilderness area.

The area represents a unique opportunity for wilderness protection. It is also an area of significance for recreation, mineral and petroleum exploration, forestry and other uses.

Details about the evaluation process and opportunities for participation will be released in the weeks to come.

More information on Nova Scotia's wilderness areas and the wilderness designation process is at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas .


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Nova Scotia nature lovers will be getting a new protected

wilderness area to enjoy, just a stone's throw from the city.

     The 20-thousand-acre area on the Chebucto Peninsula, in

the Halifax Regional Municipality, will be known as Five Bridge

Lakes Wilderness Area.

     Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau says once the area

is designated, it will bring the province closer to its goal to

protect 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's land base by 2015.

     The area has many lakes and wetlands and a small

population of endangered mainland Moose.

     Public consultations will help finalize the area's boundary.

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Media Contact: Bruce Nunn
              902-424-6427
              Cell: 902-476-6454
              E-mail: nunnbx@gov.ns.ca