As part of its commitment to protect biodiversity across the province, the Manitoba government is designating Pemmican Island on Lake Winnipegosis as a provincial park to protect the area’s ecosystems, wildlife habitat and unique landscapes.

“Our government recognizes the importance of protecting nature and by designating Pemmican Island as a provincial park, we will ensure its diverse ecosystem and intrinsic cultural value will be preserved for future generations,” said Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt. “This island will be protected and will remain undeveloped, ensuring that Manitobans are able to enjoy natural sites and Indigenous Peoples have continued access to the area for hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional pursuits.”

Located in the north basin of Lake Winnipegosis, approximately 175 kilometres north of Dauphin, the 27-hectare Pemmican Island is comprised of limestone outcrops and cliffs, boulders, gravel and sand, while inland areas contain mature stands of American elm, Manitoba maple, and trembling aspen.

The island provides habitat for a variety of colonial waterbirds including nesting grounds of double-crested cormorants, a species protected under the Wildlife Act. Several other bird species protected by federal and provincial legislation have also been detected on the island, the minister noted, including American white pelican, herring gull, ring-billed gull, Caspian tern, and common merganser.

“Protecting this culturally and ecologically significant island is a win for all Manitobans,” said Ron Thiessen, executive director, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Manitoba. “CPAWS congratulates the Manitoba government, regional First Nations, and all the citizens who participated in achieving this successful outcome.”

The Manitoba government is designating Pemmican Island as a provincial park based on the positive feedback received during a 45-day public consultation period. In all, 96 per cent of the 426 participants who took part in the survey were in favour of the designation. Pemmican Island is being classified as a natural park and designated for backcountry land use, which prohibits any activity that may significantly affect habitat, contributing to Manitoba’s network of protected and conserved areas, the minister noted.

The Manitoba government’s long-term commitment to establish a network of protected areas began in 1990, when the province became the first jurisdiction in Canada to commit to protecting examples of all of its diverse landscapes. Since 1990, Manitoba’s network of protected and conserved areas has increased from 350,000 hectares to just over 7.2 million hectares today, or approximately 11.1 per cent of the province.

The minister noted that protected areas are the most effective and economical way to protect wildlife populations, maintain natural cycles and safeguard pristine areas.