Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Protection plan for parks expected soon

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THE Selinger government will soon unveil a new strategy for modernizing and ensuring environmental protection of the province's parks.

The plan will be one of the first concrete proposals to come out of the government's Tomorrow Now master plan, which was released in June.

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Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said the parks blueprint will also spell out ways to make them more attractive.

"The parks strategy will be proposed within the next two months for feedback over the winter," Mackintosh said Monday.

Under Tomorrow Now, the Manitoba government promised to add 15 new provincial parks, ecological reserves and wildlife-management areas during the next eight years. The lofty goal was to become the "parks province."

The 52-page document unveiled in June spelled out 100 environmental goals and initiatives on issues ranging from recycling and wildlife habitat to protecting boreal forests and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

After it was released in June, the government called for public comment on the plan. Mackintosh and his officials have met with 300 individuals at various meetings during the past several months and received 150 written submissions. The comment period ends on Wednesday.

Mackintosh said he and his officials were surprised by the number of people who called for individual action to make the province greener.

Rather than focus on how government and industry can clean up their acts, many Manitobans tout strategies all of us can use to lighten our environmental footprint.

"That was a bit unexpected and certainly heartily welcomed by myself," Mackintosh said.

The province will take those ideas under consideration as it revises its Tomorrow Now document, he said.

Another area that has stood out in the public comments is how concerned Manitobans are about the cleanup of Lake Winnipeg, Mackintosh said. Submissions wanted it tackled on a watershed rather than a river-by-river basis, he said.

Other initiatives to come out of Tomorrow Now will include improvements to environmental-protection legislation and the development of a new greenhouse-gas emissions control plan, he said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2012 A4

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