Crown lands of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) have now been designated under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. The total area of this near-urban wilderness area is 1,312 hectares (3,242 acres), or almost 3/4 the size of Halifax Peninsula.
The new wilderness area includes forests, lakes, barrens, and wetlands. It protects valued wildlife habitat and a range of wilderness recreation opportunities, all within minutes of Atlantic Canada’s largest urban centre.
The designation follows more than a year of public and stakeholder consultation, socioeconomic analysis and consultations with the Mi’kmaq. A public consultation summary (PDF: 1.7mb) is available, as is the socioeconomic study.
The province originally announced its intention to designate these Crown lands in 2007. In June 2008, Nova Scotians were invited to provide feedback on the designation of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. To help generate discussion a newsletter (PDF: 2.8mb) was released describing the designation proposal. Public information meetings were held in Halifax on July 2nd and in Upper Tantallon on July 7th, 2008.
Biodiversity protection, wilderness recreation, access and boundary issues were common themes raised during the consultation. In general, respondents strongly favoured wilderness area designation. None of the comments received identified major concerns with establishing the wilderness area.
In making decisions about designation of the wilderness area, government considered a range of factors, including public comment and the socioeconomic analysis.
Several boundary adjustments were made to reflect new information learned through the public and stakeholder consultation.
- A 16 hectare Crown lease held by Maskwa Aquatic Club, between Kearney Lake and Charlies Lake, has been excluded until the Club completes recreation plans for these lands. At that time we will see what portion is suitable for addition to the wilderness area.
- A 12 hectare strip of Crown land has been excluded along the proposed HW 113 corridor to allow flexibility for highway planning and a possible active transportation (AT) route. Crown lands of this strip not needed for transportation will be added to the wilderness area when plans have been completed. Any private lands acquired south of the proposed highway will also be added. The highway will not move any closer to Blue Mountain.
- Several small additions have also been made in the vicinity of Birch Cove Lakes to correct earlier errors and omissions.
We thank all those who provided comment during this consultation process. A full set of submissions received during the comment period are available for viewing at the Nova Scotia Environment office in Halifax (5151 Terminal Road).