Wilderness compromise needed

Staff ~ The Amherst News
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To the editor,
The problem with the present Game Sanctuary designation for the Chignecto Game Sanctuary is that it does not protect the habitat because it allows activities such as clear cutting, strip mining, and other industrial activity. Since the "sanctuary "designation does not protect the habitat of the wildlife, then in the long run, it does not protect the wildlife. However, the designation of "wilderness area" does protect the habitat and therefore the wildlife.
In 1998, the Nova Scotia Legislature created the Wilderness Protection Act. The province will consider submissions from interested parties as well as the soon to be released "Colin Stewart Forest Forum" report. Government has made it clear that it is starting the process of creating a wilderness area centered on the Chignecto Game Sanctuary; that it is moving ambitiously to reach the goal of 12 per cent wilderness by 2015; and that the Department of Environment is the lead department in the implementation of the Wilderness Protection Act and in the process of public consultation.
The Cumberland Wilderness plan that was presented on Nov. 16 allows 70 per cent of existing groomed trails to be retained for snowmobile and ATV use in the wilderness area in order to permit continued connectivity of the surrounding communities.
As well, the plan includes many hiking paths, areas that permit long gun hunting, and bow hunting. The entire wilderness area will permit fishing. This plan extends wilderness protection over the whole of the present game sanctuary. Additionally it includes an unspoiled, rugged Fundy coastal area and salt marsh extending between Sand River and Shulie. There is also a proposed migration corridor from the game sanctuary to an area between Maccan and River Hebert that would facilitate the movement of threatened species, thereby enhancing their chances of survival.
The issue of the nature and extent of use of snowmobiles and ATVs in the Chignecto Game Sanctuary/Wilderness Area is contentious. Some want unfettered access for these activities. Others feel that if a wilderness area is crisscrossed with a labyrinth of recreation vehicle trails, it will no longer have the character of a wilderness. Cumberland County has vast areas that are used for intense recreational vehicle activity. Placing some modest restrictions on the comparatively small wilderness area proposed by Cumberland Wilderness is justified.
It will protect this area of unique habitats which contains a rich diversity of wildlife for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
The Chignecto Game Sanctuary/Wilderness Area needs to allow connectivity between surrounding communities through some existing recreational vehicle trails while retaining its nature as a wilderness area. The Cumberland Wilderness proposal is a compromise that recommends this balance.
Other proposals will be submitted to the province's consultation process. All of those interested need to have their say and all interests and possibilities need to be argued and considered. In this way, the provincially facilitated collaboration can forge a plan that we all will be proud to present as a gift to future generations.
Richard Beswick, Amherst

Organizations: Department of Environment

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Sand River, Maccan River Hebert Cumberland County

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