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Environment and Conservation
May 28, 2012

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Terry French, Minister of Environment and Conservation:

Camping Season Underway in Provincial Parks

Mr. Speaker, enjoyment of our natural environment is an important aspect of the cultural fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is evident in the vast number of outdoor enthusiasts who access our provincial parks and ecological reserves every year.

The May 24th weekend traditionally signals the beginning of the camping season in our province, with the opening of seven of our larger provincial parks - Barachois Pond, Butter Pot, Frenchman’s Cove, J.T. Cheeseman, La Manche, Lockston Path and Notre Dame provincial parks. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report we experienced an occupancy rate of approximately 90 per cent for the holiday weekend this year. Sandbanks and Sir Richard Squires Memorial parks also opened on May 25, while Blow Me Down, Dildo Run, Pinware River and Pistolet Bay are slated to open on June 1.

In 2007, our government increased its investment in provincial parks with a $4 million Parks Renewal Strategy aimed at improving amenities within the parks system. As a result, all parks in our province now have comfort stations and dumping stations. This year, electrical services are available at a number of campsites in Lockston Path, LaManche, Frenchman's Cove, J.T. Cheeseman, Notre Dame and Dildo Run.

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the contributions of our seniors to our province and the importance of their ability to access our natural heritage. That is why Budget 2012: People and Prosperity allocated $3.7 million to provide seniors aged 65 and over, a 35 per cent reduction on various fees in our province, including those for hunting, fishing, and camping. This initiative complements the goals of the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework which aims to recognize older persons, and encourage health and financial well-being.

Mr. Speaker, we also introduced a new campsite reservation system in 2007 to increase efficiencies in booking campsites in our provincial parks. This system continues to increase in popularity each year, Mr. Speaker, with a 17 per cent increase during the first week of the reservation system launch this year. In 2011, approximately 11,500 reservations were made via this system. We encourage campers to continue to utilize this system by calling toll-free 1-877-214- CAMP (2267) or online at www.NLCamping.ca .

The pristine beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador is second to none and I encourage our camping public to get out and experience this beauty first-hand again this season.

Thank you.

2012 05 28             1:50 p.m.

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