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Shelburne River Wilderness Area

Lands purchased from Bowater Mersey Paper Company, and some adjacent Crown lands have been now designated under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. The total area of wilderness area is 2,267 hectares (5,602 acres). The new wilderness area is located approximately 25 kilometers southwest of Caledonia in northern Queen’s county, between Kejimkujik National Park, Tobeatic Wilderness Area, and Lake Rossignol.

The new wilderness area connects large natural areas from Irving Lake to Lake Rossignol, including old forests, multiple smaller lakes, wetlands, and brooks, while helping to protect habitats and species which depend on wetlands and interior forests. The area contains several rare Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora along the rocky lakeshores, and protects a Site of Ecological Significance, long recognized as one of the foremost old-growth eastern hemlock stands in the region.

At its heart, Shelburne River Wilderness Area protects a wild and highly scenic river corridor, with roughly 40 km of river frontage. Part of a traditional Mi’kmaq travel route, this historic canoeing area was made famous in the book The Tent Dwellers. The area also protects outstanding opportunities for wilderness recreation, including canoeing, fishing, hiking, and camping. In 1997, the Shelburne River received national recognition through its designation as a Canadian Heritage River.

The designation follows more than a year of public and stakeholder consultation, socioeconomic analysis and consultations with the Mi’kmaq. A public consultation summary (PDF: 1.4mb) is available, as is the socioeconomic study.

In March 2007, Premier MacDonald announced the purchase of more than 10,000 hectares of high value conservation land from Bowater Mersey Paper Company Ltd (now AbitibiBowater Ltd). This was followed by an announcement on July 26, 2007 that the province would designate all of these lands, creating 30 new parks and protected areas including Shelburne River Wilderness Area.

On May 30 2008, Nova Scotians were invited to provide feedback on the designation of Shelburne River Wilderness Area. To help generate discussion a newsletter (PDF: 1.9mb) was released describing the designation proposal. A public information meeting was held in Caledonia on June 17th.

Biodiversity protection, wilderness recreation, heritage values and boundary issues were common themes raised in the more than 60 written responses during this consultation. Respondents strongly favoured wilderness area designation along this portion of the Shelburne River. None of the comments received indicated major concerns with establishing the wilderness area.

In making decisions about designating the wilderness area, government considered a range of factors, including public comment and the socioeconomic analysis. The only notable boundary change made following the public consultation was the addition of about 6 hectares of old growth forest on Crown land at Pollard’s Falls, adjacent to an existing ranger camp.

We thank all those who provided comment during this consultation process. A full set of submissions received during the comment period are available for viewing at the Nova Scotia Environment office in Halifax (1903 Barrington Street, Suite 2085).

More Information

  • Map (PDF: 821k) of Shelburne River Wilderness Area