The province is a step closer to protecting more wilderness. The Department of Environment has just completed public consultations on 8,266 hectares (20,425 acres) of Crown land in Halifax Regional Municipality to be known as Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area. “By protecting our wilderness, we are protecting our future and making life better for families in every region of the province,” said Sterling Belliveau, Minister of Environment. “I am pleased to see such a good response to the consultation process.” The area is a candidate to become the province’s 38th wilderness area. Among its key features are many interconnected lakes, rugged barrens, oak covered hills, and a population of the endangered mainland moose. There are exceptional opportunities for wilderness recreation such as canoeing, angling, and hiking and trail-running on the popular Bluff Wilderness Trail. The area is on the Chebucto Peninsula, between Highways 103 and 333, just west of Timberlea and east of Hatchet Lake. Nova Scotians were invited in February to comment on the proposal to protect the area. Wilderness protection means that forestry, mining, and other development activities are prohibited. To help generate discussion, a newsletter was released and well- attended public information meetings were held in Halifax, Upper Tantallon, and Hatchet Lake. More than 100 written submissions also were received. Overall, response was strongly in favour of protecting the area. A summary of the public comment is available from the Department of Environment and is on the department website. Written comments received may be read at the department’s library, at 5151 Terminal Road in Halifax. The province’s decision on the area’s final boundaries and other issues are expected before year’s end and will take into account the public comment received, Mi’kmaq interests, and an analysis of the social and economic effects of protecting the area. That analysis will be released for public comment in the fall. The province is committed, under the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, to protecting 12 per cent of Nova Scotia’s landbase by 2015. For more information about Five Bridge Lakes Candidate Wilderness Area, visit www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas.