Congratulations on the Government's Legacy Project of which I only recently became aware. I feel, however, that the Government has to be careful lest this initiative and the selection process relative to Protected Natural Areas be seen as based on purely political motives, rather than genuine ecological concerns. To my mind, the process itself is flawed since it mixes several different objectives and criteria which may or may not be compatible, i.e. what have culture and recreation, or indigenous reconciliation got to do with protecting biodiversity? It seems designed to permit the Government to claim, for political purposes, that the maximum amount of land has been "protected." Your announcing that Shepody Mountain would be protected long before the deadline for PNA site nominations and prior to the conclusion of the selection process lends credence to the belief that political concerns trump ecological ones.
Preserving the beauty of the mountain is a worthy objective which the PNA will help to achieve. Alone, however, it is not sufficient since it is also largely dependent on the whims of adjacent landowners.
The recreational value of Shepody Mountain is also important, but, unless access to it is given to the general public through appropriate signage, rights of way and parking areas, only contiguous landowners and their privileged invitees will benefit. Since all New Brunswickers are paying for the designation of the mountain as a PNA (through forgone government revenue), access should be available to all.
I would be grateful if you would let me know whether you consider Shepody Mountain a Class 1* or a Class 2 site as well as the nature of "low impact" activities permitted on Class 2 sites. Specifically, does a Class 2 designation allow snow- mobiling, ATVing, trapping, trail cutting and maintenance, and cutting of firewood for personal use.
Finally, once the deadline for nominating sites has passed, will the Govern- ment change its strategy to meet its promised 10% protected area goal given that the Legacy Project has only achieved modest success towards that end?
We understand that there are a number of viewpoints on the issue of land conservation and we invite others to send letters to info@ConnectingAlbertCounty.org. Note we may not be able to print all letters we receive but we will aim to present as many different perspectives as possible.