March 3, 2011

Park Occupies Unique Environment in Lake Winnipegosis Basin

The province has created a new provincial park surrounding Birch Island on Lake Winnipegosis to protect the important natural landscape and cultural values of the region, Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie announced today.

“The Birch Island area is a prime example of the varied landscapes we have in Manitoba,” Blaikie said.  “Making this area a provincial park acknowledges its uniqueness and protects it for future generations.”

Birch Island Provincial Park is about 150 kilometres north of Dauphin and encompasses 80,600 hectares including islands and the surrounding waters.  This newly protected area was highlighted in the 2010 throne speech and is Manitoba’s 84th provincial park.  It joins Colvin Lake and Nueltin Lake provincial parks, which were created in 2010, as the latest initiatives to preserve Manitoba’s natural regions.

The Birch Island area features a diverse mix of mature forest and muskeg habitats which are home to moose, bear, wolf, lynx, snowshoe hares and deer.  It also includes small islands and reefs on the lake that are used by a many birds including terns, ducks, herons, gulls and pelicans.

“Birch Island will be managed as a non-operational park,” Blaikie said.   “The land in the park will remain as is and current hunting, fishing,  trapping and gathering activities of local and all provincial citizens will continue in the park.  Commercial fishing and trapping activities will not be affected by the park designation.”

The new park designation also results in the area being classified under the backcountry land-use category.  The designation will legally protect the park area from commercial logging, mining, hydroelectric development, oil and gas development, and any other activity that may significantly or adversely affect habitat.

The area was previously a park reserve, which provided temporary protection to the lands while the area was being considered for designation as a provincial park.  Under the requirements of the Provincial Parks Act, public consultations were held prior to creating a permanent designation as a park.

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