On Friday, March 19, federal Environment Minister David Anderson and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing the two governments to renew efforts to establish a national park in the Manitoba Lowlands, with a target date of May 2005.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes this initiative and fully supports these additions to the proposed boundaries of the park.
The new proposed boundaries represent a significant improvement over those previously put forward by the two levels of government, and indicate a genuine desire to ensure that the new park is large enough to preserve its ecological integrity over the long-term.
“We are especially pleased that the southern boundary of the Long Point component abuts the Chitek Lake Park Reserve, further increasing the size of the protected area,” says Roger Turenne, Chair, Manitoba Lowlands campaign for CPAWS. “We also strongly support the proposed addition to the Limestone Bay Component because it adds a significant area of karst landscape to the park, an important characteristic of the Manitoba Lowlands which was almost completely absent from previous proposals.”
Significant Omission from Proposal
CPAWS is disappointed, however, that Little Limestone Lake is not among the proposed additions. This lake of great beauty and unique characteristics sits just outside the new boundaries. One of the purposes of a national park is to preserve for future generations unique landscapes that can be found nowhere else, and Little Limestone Lake certainly falls within that description.
According to Dr. Derek Ford of McMaster University, it is the finest example of a marl lake in the world. (Marl is created when calcite, the chief constituent of limestone, is chemically precipitated from warm water.) While marl lakes are relatively common in Canada, none here or elsewhere in the world displays such a density of particulates as occurs on hot days at Little Limestone Lake; the waters appear to turn into a rich milk with a touch of blue. At other times, the lake can be a brilliant turquoise.
CPAWS believes that such an extraordinary place should be protected within the boundaries of the national park which is intended to represent the unique characteristics of the area.
Situated right alongside Highway No. 6, Little Limestone Lake is also ideally located for an interpretive station that would be a park highlight for those visitors unable to access its more remote reaches.
“CPAWS hopes that in the course of the next 14 months, the two governments will appreciate the significance of Little Limestone Lake and include it in the final configuration of the park. The Manitoba Lowlands National Park would then be complete, and constitute a lasting legacy for generations to come,” says Turenne.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, a national non-profit organization with 12 regional chapters and 15,000 members, is Canada’s grassroots voice for wilderness. CPAWS is highly respected for our science-driven campaigns to establish new protected areas and to ensure that nature comes first in the management of existing parks.