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March 5, 2001
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

Feasibility study for new national park in Mealy Mountains area announced

Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation Kevin Aylward, Minister for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Ernest McLean, Innu Nation President Peter Penashue, and Labrador Inuit Association President William Barbour today announced a joint study of the feasibility of establishing a new national park in the Mealy Mountains area of Labrador, south of Lake Melville.

Minister Aylward said that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is pleased to participate in this feasibility study. "The Mealy Mountains area of southern Labrador offers spectacular scenery, with many forested river valleys and rugged mountain environments," said Mr. Aylward. "The area is an ideal candidate for a national park, and the feasibility study will present all interested people with an opportunity to assess the benefits of a national park, along with alternative development options that might otherwise occur in the study area. This initiative will represent a significant contribution toward the goal of completing Canada's networks of representative protected areas."

The national park feasibility study will examine the potential impacts and benefits of establishing a national park on all users; Innu, Inuit, people of the coast, and those who enjoy the wilderness. It will enable an informed decision to be made about whether to proceed to negotiate an agreement to establish a national park in the area. The feasibility study will be a public process, designed to solicit the views and concerns of all interested parties and groups. 

Minister McLean sees this as a significant step forward. "This feasibility study is a very positive move towards achieving protected eco-region goals in Labrador," said Minister McLean. "My office in Labrador will work with the Parks Canada office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as part of a joint working committee on this study."

Government has adopted an eco-region approach to protected areas establishment to ensure that each eco-region of the province is adequately represented in a protected areas system. Newfoundland and Labrador is a vast area with diverse ecology. If feasible, the Mealy Mountains National Park would see the protection of four eco-regions.

In terms of ecological integrity, a national park must accommodate the year-round habitat requirements of viable populations of such key native species as the woodland caribou and grey wolf, and must keep intact the critical ecological processes that support the continued viability of those species and their habitat, such as naturally occurring fire. 
Media contact: Catherina Kennedy, Communications, (709) 729-0928.

2001 03 05                                                  9:00 a.m.

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