Québec’s Strategy on Protected Areas:
THE GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS ITS INTENTION OF TEAMING UP WITH THE CREE NATION OF MISTISSINI TO CREATE THE FIRST INHABITED PARK IN THE BOREAL FOREST: ALBANEL-TÉMISCAMIE-OTISH PARK
Québec, November 9, 2005 – In partnership with the Cree Nation of Mistissini, Mr. Thomas J. Mulcair, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House Leader, and Mr. Pierre Corbeil, Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Region and the Nord-du-Québec Region and MNA for Abitibi-Est, confirm the government’s intention of creating Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish Park, the first park representative of the boreal forest, and announce the holding of public hearings in Mistissini on January 14, 2006 and in Chibougamau on January 15, 2006.
"I am proud that the government is able to team up with the Cree Nation of Mistissini with a view to protecting this exceptional territory in the boreal forest which will become the first park inhabited by an Aboriginal nation that continues to practice its traditional way of life there. The project will enhance the natural, cultural and historical heritages of this vast territory spanning more than 11,000 km2 and representing close to 0.7 % of Québec’s territory. This initiative will make it possible to almost triple the surface area of Québec’s national parks in a sustainable development perspective," pointed out Minister Mulcair.
"Moreover, it is important to recall that the creation of this park will have positive spin-offs for the development of the region’s recreational-tourism potential, in addition to contributing to the preservation of elements that are representative of the biodiversity and landscapes that form an integral part of the wealth and beauty of Northern Québec," indicated Minister Corbeil.
Furthermore, this park project is in keeping with the government’s wish to set up a network of high-quality protected areas that is representative of the biodiversity of Québec, covering all regions and targeting 8% of the surface area of its territory.
The master plan of the future park will underscore the importance that the Cree Nation of Mistissini puts on the preservation of its cultural and natural heritages and the close ties that tallymen have forged with this immense territory which they have been inhabiting and using for thousands of years. Tallymen have always been the guardians and protectors of the territory and will continue to play this role once the park is created. The rights guaranteed to beneficiaries under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement will be maintained, particularly with respect to the harvesting right associated with hunting, fishing and trapping.
The proposed boundary
With the exception of Category I lands, Poste Bay and Abatagouche Bay (where the Village of Mistissini is located), the park will preserve in its entirety the surface of the waters of Lake Albanel and Lake Mistassini, as well as a buffer strip around these two lakes. It will also comprise the upstream portion of Rupert River, from its origin in Lake Mistassini up to Lake Bellinger. In addition, much of the Témiscamie River watershed will be included, from the source of this river in the Otish Mountains up to Lake Albanel, as well as the historic canoe route corridor linking Coldwater Lake to Lake Témiscamie. A large portion of the Otish Mountains will be protected as will be Lake Naococane, north of these mountains. Consequently, much of the Réserve faunique des Lacs-Albanel-Mistassini-et-Waconichi will be transformed into a park.
Zoning geared to conservation
The park’s zoning plan is the first tool used to delimit sites requiring special protection. This plan introduces a new element in the current network of parks, namely areas specially dedicated to the preservation of sites considered sacred by the Elders of Mistissini. A supplemental value at the spiritual, social and cultural levels is being added to the rich natural heritage of this territory.
Services zones: Services zones will be located at those places where there are existing facilities and where new facilities can also be set up.
Ambience zones: Lakes and rivers will be included in ambience zones and will serve as arteries of travel. At the Otish Mountains, ambience zones are located in wooded valleys, along marked trails, making it possible to go on short outings and long hikes.
Preservation zones: These zones will help ensure the preservation of the fragile sites of the Témiscamie River basin and all the summits of the Otish Mountains. Archaeological sites are also covered by this type of zoning.
Maximum preservation zones: The delimitation of a few maximum preservation zones will make it possible to protect the habitats of threatened or vulnerable plant and wildlife species and old-growth forests. This will be the case for the islands located at the centre of Lake Mistassini and the unusual Mount Chicouté in the Otish Mountains.
Sacred areas: Following consultation of the Elders of Mistissini, Colline Blanche (Wapushakamikw), the big rock to which Lake Mistassini owes its name, the northern tip of Manitounouc Island, Mount Wepaasiu to the west of the Otish Mountains, and the old cemeteries and burial places in the forest will be designated sacred areas.
Those persons or groups interested in participating in the public hearings are asked to submit their brief or their comments, no later than December 27, 2005, by e-mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Direction du patrimoine écologique et des Parcs of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, Édifice Marie-Guyart, 675, boulevard René-Lévesque Est, 4e étage, Québec (Québec) G1R 5V7. They will then be invited to voice their opinion during public hearings next January. The location and the times of the meetings will be announced at a later date.
The information sheets on the Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish Park project may be found on the web site of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs.
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