Nova Scotians are invited to comment on government’s intent to designate more than 1,300 hectares of Crown land within Halifax Regional Municipality for protection. The Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will be next to the urban core of HRM. “This will be Nova Scotia’s first urban wilderness area; protecting air quality, watersheds, and natural ecosystems,” said Environment Minister Mark Parent. “This area will help us meet our commitment to protect 12 per cent of the province’s land mass by 2015.” The designated area will protect 1,350 hectares (3,350 acres) of Crown land between Highway 103 and the Bicentennial Highway, adjacent to Bayers Lake Business Park. The area includes numerous undeveloped lakes and wetlands, rugged woodlands with old red oak and red spruce stands, and habitat for rare species. “This protected area will encourage healthy, active living by allowing HRM residents and visitors to easily access Nova Scotia’s beautiful and peaceful wilderness — all within a short distance of one of our busy urban areas,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “We look forward to hearing residents views on how to make the best use of this significant green space.” The Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will complement HRM’s plans to create a nearby regional park. It will promote healthy lifestyles through wilderness recreation and exceptional opportunities for outdoor education, hiking, swimming, cross-country skiing, canoeing and angling. Public information forums on the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area will be held Wednesday, July 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Keshen Goodman Public Library in Halifax and Monday, July 7, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the St. Margaret’s Centre in Upper Tantallon. Written comment will be accepted until Aug. 22 by mail at: Department of Environment, Protected Areas, P.O. Box 442, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2P8, and by e-mail at: [email protected] A map of proposed boundaries for Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area, a consultation newsletter and more information about protected areas are available at all Department of Environment offices, online at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas , and by calling 902-424-2117.