Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Kevin Doherty announced the official proclamation of Great Blue Heron Provincial Park. In addition to being the first new provincial park to open in nearly 20 years, it is Saskatchewan’s 35th provincial park. The park - located north of Prince Albert - encompasses Anglin and Emma Lake recreation sites and surrounding crown land, contains nearly 300 campsites and protects 11,168 hectares.
“Our government is dedicated to developing new provincial parks,” Doherty said. “The result of a 2007 election promise, this new park is a proud achievement for our government. I am pleased to offer this attraction to the people of our growing province and to our growing number of parks visitors. This park will help create a stronger Saskatchewan.”
This area was identified as an ideal location for a new provincial park because significant year-round recreation and tourism opportunities exist in the region. Provincial parks are one of Saskatchewan’s most popular tourism attractions. They set another attendance record in 2012 with more than 3.5 million visits, exceeding the previous attendance record set in 2011 by 5.7 per cent.
This area, known as Lakeland and considered the gateway to Saskatchewan’s northern forests, is also home to a variety of wildlife. Extensive boreal forest habitat exists for moose, elk, white-tailed deer, woodland caribou, various songbird species, the common loon and the great blue heron.
Since one of the park’s primary goals is to conserve more of the watershed and habitat of the Anglin and Emma Lake sites, the great blue heron, which frequents the park’s lakes and waterways, was chosen as a suitable park namesake and emblem.
Government will continue engaging with all stakeholders including First Nations and Métis as work begins to develop a park management and development plan.
The Government of Saskatchewan continues to improve provincial parks and in 2012 committed an additional $10 million over four years to supplement the previously-enhanced provincial parks capital budget. Since 2008, government has invested almost $44 million to improve Saskatchewan’s provincial parks.