June 21, 2004

Manitoba expands protected areas network, includes first privately-owned land

Manitoba's network of protected areas has been significantly expanded with the creation of two new protected areas, plus two additions and one extension to existing protected area sites. Included in the initiative is a Protected Areas Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The agreement between the Manitoba government and the Conservancy will add privately-owned lands to the protected areas network for the first time. It will protect 4,118 hectares of Conservancy-owned land, which includes endangered tall grass prairie and its associated ecosystems in the rural municipality of Stuartburn.

The other additions include:

The new Bell and Steeprock Canyons Protected Area, totalling 11,310 hectares and encompassing the Bell and Steeprock canyons and the Baden Escarpment in the Porcupine Provincial Forest; it will preserve a cross-section of the Manitoba Escarpment complex and river canyons.

The new Little George Island Ecological Reserve, a 15-hectare area in the north basin of Lake Winnipeg which will protect the nesting habitats for common terns, Caspian terns and greater scaup, including an access ban during the June 1 to Aug. 15 nesting period.

An extension of the 770,000-hectare Poplar/Nanowin Rivers Provincial Park Reserve to 2009 to allow for the development and completion of a land use inventory and community-driven land management plan by the Poplar River First Nation.

An addition of 50 hectares to Rivers Provincial Park, which includes some of the last remaining mixed grass prairie, located on the north shore of Lake Wahtopanah.

Since Manitoba launched its Protected Areas Initiative in 1990, 5.4 million hectares of land have been protected. Protected areas are free from logging, mining, hydroelectric, oil and gas development, or any other activities with potential significant and adverse impacts on natural habitat. Treaty and Aboriginal rights are respected within these areas and many activities such as hunting, trapping or fishing are allowed, as well as various outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, canoeing and camping.

"In recent years, we've added Pembina Valley, Caribou River, Trappist Monastery and Criddle/Vane Homestead as provincial parks. We have also created nine park reserves and protected all or part of 21 wildlife management areas," Premier Gary Doer said.

The Protected Areas Initiative will receive $100,000 this year to further support the development of the network. In co-operation with Skownan First Nation, public consultations are in progress respecting a permanent park designation this year for the Chitek Lake Park Reserve.

Manitoba also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government that sets the stage for consultations and negotiations aimed at establishing a new national park in Manitoba's northern Interlake region.

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