CPAWS comments about the future of Little Limestone Lake


January 16, 2013

CPAWS has provided comments to the Manitoba government about the draft management plan for Little Limestone Lake provincial park. Please see below.

Comments:

The Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society would like to thank you for your invitation to comment about the future of Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park.

We are generally pleased with the Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park draft management plan. Thanks to Mosakahiken Cree Nation, CPAWS was given the opportunity to assist by giving them our review of an earlier draft of the plan.

CPAWS supports investigating the potential for Little Limestone Lake being nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Being the largest and most intense colour-changing marl lake on earth, combined with its stunning visual beauty, certainly makes it a worthy candidate for this prestigious designation.

As the park boundaries are inadequate to protect the water sources that feed Little Limestone Lake, we are delighted that the plan includes the following commitment:

"Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship will work with Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines as well as local industry representatives to explore opportunities for expanding the boundaries of Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park, which include areas deemed critical to the ecological function of the lake and its watersheds. The process will utilize best available information for determining the state and extent of the lake's ecological function, including the findings as presented in the Final Report upon Field Studies and Review at Little Limestone Lake Park Reserve, September 2010 by Dr. Derek Ford."

CPAWS, in partnership with Mosakahiken Cree Nation, are recommending that the Play-it-safe boundary become the boundaries for Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park. Permanent protection of the lands that support the lake, rather than the suggested management regime, is the most certain way to ensure that the lake will remain healthy forever.

CPAWS further recommends that Mosakahiken Cree Nation, Norway House Cree Nation, and environmental organizations be included in the group involved in exploring opportunities for expanding the boundaries of Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park.

Also, as the Memorandum of Understanding (signed June 2011) between Manitoba and Mosakahiken Cree Nation states that exploration of park boundary expansion was to begin no later than 60 days after establishment of the park, we highly recommend that a process be launched immediately to consider enlarging the park's boundaries.

In the Planning Context section, we recommend that it's made clear that the planning may also involve considering park boundary expansion.

In the Working Together section, we recommend including that a key action be considering park boundary expansion.

In the Managing Recreational Activities section, we recommend a key action to be overseeing garbage disposal as well as maintaining access and camping sites.

In the Managing Resource Activities section, the objective could be augmented to "To manage industrial and resource activities in and near the park in a way that will help maintain the ecological integrity, hydrogeological integrity, and natural aesthetics of Little Limestone Lake."

We further recommend that key action number 2 be changed to "Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship will work with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation to ensure that any road upgrading or drainage works on PTH 6 will not result in increased drainage, runoff or potential contaminants from the highway being directed to Little Limestone Lake. Additional efforts will be made to reduce or halt any existing drainage, runoff, or potential contaminants from PTH 6."

In the objective of the Research to Direct Future Management section, we recommend the following addition: "To obtain information that will assist Manitoba, Mosakahiken Cree Nation, the RMB, and others in considering park boundary expansion as well as managing the park, reserve lands, and adjacent lands to help maintain the ecological integrity, hydrogeological integrity, and natural aesthetics of the lake."

In the Implementation section, we recommend stronger commitments be made as indicated below:

Implementation of this management plan will be a joint responsibility of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, Mosakahiken Cree Nation and the Moose Lake Resource Management Board. Regular communication amongst the three parties will be essential to ensure that Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park is managed effectively and in a way that responds to issues and to the needs of local people and park visitors.

To support this communication, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, through the RMB, should will report annually to Chief and Council of Mosakahiken Cree Nation and to the Minister on management activities at Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park. In addition, the RMB should will report to community members at least annually through RMB community meetings.

This management plan is to guide the work of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, Mosakahiken Cree Nation and the RMB on Little Limestone Lake over the next 10 to 15 years. In this context, the plan will be utilized and examined on an ongoing basis. A formal review of this plan should will be undertaken every five years. Where an update or new direction on any matters described in this management plan may be needed, a process for publicly reviewing and updating the plan should will be undertaken.

Thank you again for this opportunity. We would appreciate a response to our comments.

Ron Thiessen, Executive Director, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS) – Manitoba chapter