MANITOBA will expand the Whiteshell and Camp Morton provincial parks while protecting a large section of the Whiteshell from industrial development.
Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said the moves are part of a promise to create or expand 10 provincial parks in the coming years.
Whiteshell Provincial Park will be expanded by 2,900 hectares -- almost equal to the size of Birds Hill Provincial Park. The additional land will connect the park to the Whitemouth Bog Wildlife Management Area and Whitemouth Bog Ecological Reserve, including areas around the Rennie River.
The province is also working to acquire a property known as the Marie-Rose Cottage from the Community of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for addition to Camp Morton Provincial Park. The property is in the RM of Gimli along Lake Winnipeg and borders the northeast part of the park.
As well, more than 20,000 hectares of land in the Whiteshell near Sylvia and Meditation lakes will be designated a protected backcountry area, meaning it cannot be logged or mined.
Environmental groups had been calling for the designation and were celebrating the announcement Friday.
"It's gratifying and humbling to know that Wilderness Committee Manitoba was able to channel public support into achieving real protection for part of the Whiteshell park," said Eric Reder, the group's campaign director.
Ron Thiessen of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society was pleased with the expansion of parks and protected areas.
Manitoba's 86 provincial parks cover just over four million hectares of land, nearly equal in size to Nova Scotia.
-- Larry Kusch