Northern provincial parks could expand their boundaries considerably

Three Northern Manitoba provincial parks could bet a lot bigger if proposed expansion plans proceed.

Burge Lake Provincial Park on the west shore of Burge Lake about 10 kilometres from the town of Lynn Lake, which is currently 6.2 hectares, could grow by 130 hectares with the addition of a 23-hectare campground and cottage area as well as 106 hectares of mostly undeveloped forest. The expansion is being proposed because much of the campground was unintentionally built on Crown land lying outside the park’s boundaries. The campground area being added includes about 15 cottage lots adjacent to the park boundary and across the road from cottage that are actually within the park. A remote cottage and a small summer camp would also become part of the park under the proposed expansion, about 68 hectares of which would be classified in the recreational development land use category and the remaining 62 in the backcountry designation. The park would then be reclassified as a natural park, which preserves areas of a natural region and accommodates recreation opportunities or resource use, though industrial development is prohibited in areas classified as backcountry.

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Zed Lake Provincial Park, about 20 kilometres from Lynn Lake, would go from about 12 to 68 hectares with the addition of a nine-hectare campground area and 47 hectares of undeveloped area to be classified as backcountry. The campground area, like the one in Burge Lake Provincial Park, was inadvertently build on Crown land as well.

If theses expansion proceed, hunting would still be permitted on the added lands provided hunters do not discharge firearms within 300 metres of developed areas. Whether trapping activities, currently banned in Manitoba’s provincial parks, would be allowed in the added areas has yet to be determined.

The Sustainable Development department is also proposing to add 722 hectares of land to Pisew Falls Provincial Park about 70 kilometres south of Thompson, which would encompass the Kwasitchewan Falls trail and its associated non-modern bathrooms and backcountry campsites. Making this trail part of the park would ensure continued public access to it, though resource development would still be allowed under its designation in the recreational development land use category because of numerous existing mineral and mining claims in the area.

Comments on the proposed expansions can be submitted via the department’s website at http://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/consult/index.html and must be received by Aug. 31.  Public drop-in sessions regarding the expansions as well as the proposed park management plans for these three parks as well as Paint Lake and Sasagiu Rapids provincial parks are being held Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Paint Lake Provincial Park.

The proposed management plan for the 99.6 hectare Sasagiu Rapids Provincial Park, a little south of Pisew Falls, calls for it to be maintained as a natural –looking park and that development not be allowed in its forested northwest section. Public access to the shoreline and day use will be permitted, though the privately operated campground may be extended through the standard approval process. The portage route over the rapids will remain accessible for canoeists and others travelling on the Grass River and improved signs at the access and egress points will be installed to clarify their location and prevent conflicts between portage users and the campground.

The Paint Lake Provincial Park management plan calls for the maintenance of fish populations and allowing water levels to fluctuate naturally. More backcountry campsites may be added to the park but no new seasonal sites will be added, though some of the existing ones may be upgraded from basic to electrical. The plan also calls for the Liz Lake sports field to be considered as the site of a possible future group use area if there is demand for one. Additional commercial development in the park will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the province may divest the marina docks to a private owner though it will retain ownership of the boat launches.

© Copyright 2018 Thompson Citizen

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