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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ship Harbour- Long Lake

The province makes good on its wilderness pledge

Posted on Tue, Dec 11, 2007 at 9:06 AM

Let’s give credit where credit is due: in one very important aspect, the provincial government is coming through with its promises.

You’ll recall that this spring the legislature unanimously approved the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which established a series of environmental targets that the province is legally committed to reaching in coming years, including for reductions in pollutant levels, improved water quality, increases in renewable energy generation and so fourth.

I’ll leave aside for the moment that many of the targets were laughably low and the province is seemingly doing everything in its power to make sure that arguably the most important target—for greenhouse gas emission reductions—won’t be met.

I’ll leave those issues aside for the moment because whatever other problems there are with the Act (and with implementation of the Act), the province did lay out one very meaningful goal and, more importantly, is actually following through with action to meet the goal.

And that’s the very first goal established by the Act:

(a) twelve per cent of the total land mass of the Province will be legally protected by the year 2015;
Like the GHG emission reduction target, the protected land target could’ve been ignored, or left for future governments to meet. Or, the government could have achieved the goal by “protecting” worthless properties that held little environmental value.

But, I’m happy to report, the Department of Environment, and by extension the entire government, has moved quickly to give real protection to valuable, and highly endangered, properties.

Last month Wilderness status was extended to the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area. Sitting immediately behind the Bayers Lake Industrial Park and stretching all the way to Hammonds Plains Road, BMBCL was threatened by encroaching suburbia. The new status protects it forever.

And last week, the government announced it was beginning the process to extend the same protections to what will be known as the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area.

The exact borders of the new Wilderness have yet to be set, but it generally covers about 14,000 hectares in the hill and lake country behind Head of Jeddore on the Eastern Shore, just beyond Musquodoboit Harbour. It stretches from the existing White Lake Wilderness Area to near the town of Moose River Gold Mines. (See a map and description of the area.)

Like BMBCL, this area was very threatened by encroaching suburbia, as well as by logging. By moving to protect both areas, the government has demonstrated a real commitment to protecting the most vulnerable provincial landscapes.

Good job!

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