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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chignecto Game Sanctuary

Scientists have been saying for years that we need to protect more land to conserve wildlife and maintain natural ecosystems. The laws for the current game sanctuary protect the animals from rifle hunting and trapping but the land that they live on is not protected from mining and clear cutting. Thus the ecology of the land that the animals need to survive is slowly being destroyed. The proposal from Cumberland Wilderness encourages the protection of both.

The sanctuary will remain intact once the wilderness protected area is created over this land and the crown lands surrounding the sanctuary. The sanctuary will then hold laws that protect both the animals and the land they live on. Wilderness protection does allow long gun hunting but in the sanctuary hunting will be restricted to bow hunting only as it is now. There are many stakeholders involved with the future of the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. A blended approach is needed with ideas from all of the stakeholders interests included.

Better protection for the area does not mean that citizens and tourists will be excluded from the wilderness area. In fact parts of the Wilderness Protection Act want and allow more tourism potential and educational awareness in the form of hiking trails and other outdoor adventures.

The proposal from Cumberland Wilderness keeps 70% of the snowmobile trails open and these trails would be grandfathered in so that they will remain as usable trails. However, the Department of Natural Resources and the people that already use the trail system want to keep all of the trails open. Their interests should also be included in this blended approach. Perhaps having the Wilderness protection and all the trails that are already in existence “grandfathered in” would be the way to go?
Areas designated under the province's Wilderness Areas Protection Act are off limits to logging, mining, and industrial development, but still available for most forms of outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and eco-tourism.

Section 23 (3-5) of the Wilderness Protection Act says that snowmobiles may be permitted on designated trails if the trail was in existence at the time of wilderness designation; the trail is an essential link to a more extensive snowmobile network outside the wilderness areas; and the continued use will have minimal environmental impact. Atvs may be used to gain access to recreational activities such as hunting, fishing only if no other alternative exists.

Under the Act, Section 17, the prohibited activities would be those used for commercial resources such as mining, forestry (clear-cutting), pipelines, drilling etc. Other activities that are prohibited may include: more roads, railways, altering the surface of the land and littering.

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