News Release - March 10, 2005
REGULATIONS IN PLACE TO CONSERVE THE GREAT SAND HILLS
The province has enacted regulations to conserve 36,585 hectares (366 square km) of land in the Great Sand Hills.
The action fulfills another of the commitments the government made when it accepted the recommendations of the Great Sand Hills Land Use Strategy Review Committee June 2004. The committee's report was prepared after almost two years of research and public consultation.
"We are very pleased to continue to deliver on our promises regarding the future of the Great Sand Hills area," Environment Minister David Forbes said. "The amount of land protected goes significantly beyond the amount recommended by the Great Sand Hills Review Committee and means that a large portion of this very unique ecological area will be protected."
The regulations act to protect the land from certain surface disturbances. It outlines uses that are permitted such as ranching and hunting and those that are not allowed such as gas development.
The government has already established a Scientific Advisory Committee that will conduct a regional environmental study of the area. The study will examine social, economic and ecological consideration and provide overall environmental conservation direction to future land uses and sustainable development of the area's gas resources. Fieldwork on that study is scheduled to begin this spring and be complete in the fall of next year.
The Great Sand Hills area is made up of 1,942 square km of prairie that is rich in endangered and rare species of plants and animals, as well as active and inactive sand dunes. It is also an important area for natural gas development.
The government also expects to amend the Ecological Reserves Act during the spring 2005 session of the Legislative Assembly to accommodate conservation of the 36,585 hectares of land.
Information on the Great Sand Hills Regional Environmental Study can be found at www.se.gov.sk.ca under the ecosystem management tab.
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