Nova Scotians have an opportunity to comment on a discussion paper on the socioeconomic effects of designating three new wilderness areas. “I am pleased to be sharing this discussion paper with all Nova Scotians, and look forward to receiving comments on it as we work to finalize the protection of these wilderness areas,” said Environment Minister David Morse. A plan to designate three new wilderness areas on Crown lands was announced by government in 2007. Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes is in Halifax County, between Kearney Lake and Timberlea. Ship Harbour Long Lake is also in Halifax County, northeast of Musquodoboit Harbour. Shelburne River wilderness area is in Queens County, south of Kejimkujik National Park. “These new wilderness areas will help meet our goal of protecting 12 per cent of Nova Scotia’s land base, as required by the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act,” said Mr. Morse. Public consultations concerning area boundaries are completed for Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes and Shelburne River. An initial round of public consultation has been completed for Ship Harbour Long Lake, and a 60-day consultation on its final proposed boundary will be held in the coming months. The public consultations, and the socioeconomic study contained in the discussion paper, are requirements of the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. The discussion paper, prepared by an independent environmental consulting firm, was reviewed by government departments and a university economist. Nova Scotians’ comments on it will be considered when the consultant prepares a final document for release to the public and submission to the minister. The discussion paper, and a summary prepared by the Department of Environment, are available online at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/protectedareas , or by calling 902-424-2117. Summaries of public comments received through all steps of the consultation process are also available on the website. Written comment will be accepted until Feb. 27 by mail at Nova Scotia Environment, Protected Areas, P.O. Box 442, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2P8, and by e-mail at [email protected] .