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Protected Areas

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Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area

Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area protects exceptional coastal lands on Cape Breton’s southeast coast, with almost 20 km of shoreline. It is Nova Scotia’s largest new coastal protected area.

The diverse coast includes sand and barrier beaches and dunes, small islands, tidal flats, saltmarsh, lagoons, brackish lakes, and low shoreline cliffs. These habitats provide staging and nesting sites for shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds. Away from the coast, much of the area consists of humid spruce/fir rainforest, windswept coastal barrens, and sprawling wetlands that support rare coastal plain plants.

Protection of these features improves representation of the Fourchu Till Cliffs and Beaches natural landscape in the provincial protected areas network.

This wilderness area offers outstanding nature tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, beachcombing, bird watching, sea kayaking, canoeing, angling and hunting. An exceptional paddling route between Framboise River and Belfry Lake weaves through interconnected lagoons and brackish lakes, sheltered from the open ocean by barrier beaches and headlands. Another highlight for wilderness adventure is the beach at Capelin Cove and surrounding coastal barrens and shoreline. No managed hiking or portage trails currently exist.

A number of roads cut through the wilderness area; these are not part of the wilderness area, and remain open to vehicle use. These include MacDonald Road, Pig Point Road, the road to Stewarts Pond, MacKay Road, and a short forest access road near Mulcuish Lake.

The rough road to Capelin Cove to within 800 metres of the cove is not part of the wilderness area. This allows vehicle access to within walking distance of the cove for most people, while protecting sensitive coastal barrens and maintaining a unique “wild coast” experience. A number of other, nearby beaches outside of the wilderness area offer direct vehicle access.

The wilderness area surrounds a private lot on Crooked Lake. The Minister of Environment can authorize access to these private lands.

A nearby 62 hectare area of land previously identified for designation as Mulcuish Lake Nature Reserve was, instead, added to the wilderness area to simplify management.

Wilderness area designation of an additional 8 hectares at St. Esprit lake will take effect if overlapped mineral rights expire and no new rights are granted.

The Province’s 2013 Parks and Protected Areas Plan stipulates that the designation of 105 hectares is “subject to wood supply analysis”. This analysis has since been completed and a decision was made to not include these lands in the wilderness area. Instead, these lands will be available for general Crown land management.