Saskatchewan has designated a new protected area nearly two-thirds the size of Prince Edward Island.
The Pink Lake Representative Area Ecological Reserve, located 160 kilometres north of La Ronge, is now Saskatchewan’s largest provincially-designated protected area of approximately 3,660 square kilometres. Compared to all other protected lands in the province, only Prince Albert National Park is larger at 3,874 square kilometres.
“The Pink Lake area covers a vast area of boreal forest which provides important habitat for many species including woodland caribou,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “The designation will help conserve this ecologically important area, while adding significantly to Saskatchewan’s Representative Areas Network.”
Saskatchewan launched the Representative Areas Network in 1997 to conserve representative or unique examples of landscapes across Saskatchewan, with a target of protecting 12 per cent of each of the province’s 11 ecoregions. With the Pink Lake designation, representation in the Churchill River Upland Ecoregion increases from 4.9 to 8.2 per cent of the total area. Saskatchewan’s Representative Areas Network includes approximately 6.1 million hectares, or just over 9.0 per cent of the province.
Designation as an ecological reserve means that no new industrial developments will be allowed in the area. No new leases or permits will be issued but those in place at the time of the designation will be grandfathered to allow existing activities to continue. Traditional activities by First Nations and Métis people, as well as recreational hunting and angling, will continue.
“Half of our beautiful province is forest,” Cheveldayoff said. “A strong, healthy boreal ecoregion will continue to serve all residents, visitors and our industry partners now and for decades to come.”
The Pink Lake Representative Area Ecological Reserve was proposed as part of the Misinipiy Integrated Land Use Plan, developed in partnership with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band with extensive public and stakeholder involvement. The land use plan was approved in May 2012.
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