Almost 2,000 hectares of land has become the Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area.
Leslie Wilson has long dreamed of the Wentworth Valley being a year-round destination.
The president of Ski Wentworth is thrilled with the announcement Nov. 26 that designates 1,954 hectares as the Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area including land in both Cumberland and Colchester counties.
“This is great news for the valley and it provides another opportunity for tourists and visitors interested in four seasons of activity,” Wilson said following the announcement. “Our core is winter, but this will allow for more activities like hiking and more activity in the off-season as well.”
She said the announcement is another big piece in the puzzle that will help bring focus and attention to what is available in Wentworth.
Environment Minister Margaret Miller also announced the designation of two other protected areas near Oxford, including the Chase Lake Wildnerness Area – that covers 874 hectares – and the Steepbank Brook Nature Reserve – covering 202 hectares.
“Wilderness areas protect nature, of course. But they also offer opportunities for recreation, education, research, and economic development,” Miller said in a news release. “They can support local economies through nature tourism which provides jobs and attracts visitors to nearby communities and local businesses.
“We … expect to announce other new and expanded protected areas over the coming months.”
A report prepared by Gardner Pinfold shows many commercial benefits of Nova Scotia’s protected areas. It notes some businesses in the province are built primarily on revenue from people seeking wilderness area experiences. It also says the long-term protection of these areas gives businesses certainty to invest and grow.
The designation is welcome to the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
“This wilderness area contains all sorts of old forest and important ecosystems,” executive director Chris Miller said.
The area was first identified as a candidate protected area by the Nova Scotia government in 2011. After two years of public and stakeholder consultations, the Wentworth Valley was declared a pending protected area by the province in 2013, when Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan was publicly released.
The executive director said the announcement means the designation process is now complete.
“It’s been a long road to get to this point,” he said.
Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area contains large intact forests, habitat for the endangered mainland moose, several significant stands of old hardwood forest, and is a site important for landscape connectivity in the Cobequid Hills.
A large portion of the new protected wilderness area was previously owned by Neenah Paper Ltd. and was acquired by the Nova Scotia government for conservation in 2010.
“If those lands were not purchased at that time, it’s likely that the forest would have been clearcut by now,” he said.
These are the first new protected areas created by the province since March 2017. At the moment, about half of the sites from the Nova Scotia Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan have been officially established, covering about two thirds of the total area.
That still leaves about 100 pending protected areas still awaiting legal protection.
“It’s been five years since the protected areas plan was finalized,” he said. “That’s more than enough time to have completed the designation process for all of the pending protected areas in the plan. We hope that the protection of the Wentworth Valley is a signal of things to come, but with a renewed sense of urgency.”
With these designations, Nova Scotia’s protected land now totals about 689,000 hectares. More information, including the report on commercial benefits, is available at novascotia.ca/nse/protectedareas .
Environment Minister Margaret Miller announces the creation of the 1,954-hectare Wentworth Valley Wilderness Area that includes land in both Cumberland and Colchester counties and borders on Ski Wentworth. Also designated were two new protected spaces near Oxford.