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Why does Sable Island National Park Reserve have a management plan and what does it do?

Parks Canada requires each national park we administer to have a management plan. The management plan sets the vision and strategic direction for the site for the next ten years. It outlines specific objectives and actions to achieve this vision and direction in three key areas: protection in the context of past and future change, visitor experience, and outreach and education.

Why Should I comment on the draft plan?

A key component in the development of any management plan is consultation and feedback from Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and Canadians. It is only through public involvement that Parks Canada can ensure that the future direction of the site reflects the perspectives and aspirations of Canadians.

What will happen to my comments?

At the close of the public comment period, Parks Canada will carefully review and analyze all feedback received. The information gathered in the engagement process will be used to refine the plan prior to final approval and tabling in Parliament.

How can I get more information or comment on the draft management plan?

Parks Canada is inviting comments on the draft management plan until June 9, 2019. The draft plan and additional information on Sable Island National Park Reserve can be found at https://letstalksableisland.ca/letstalksableisland. The website also provides opportunity to comment on the plan. Additional comments can be submitted to pc.sable.pc@canada.ca or Sable Island National Park Reserve Parks Canada / Government of Canada 1869 Upper Water St., Halifax NS, B3J 1S9.

Are the horses wild?

The horses are part of the island’s ecological community and as such are protected as wildlife by Parks Canada under the Canada National Parks Act and the National Parks of Canada Wildlife Regulations. Parks Canada’s definition of the horses as a wild population of a naturalized species is consistent with the COSEWIC and IUCN definition of wildlife species (an animal in its present habitat for more than 50 years). As with other wildlife in national parks, these regulations protect the Sable Island horses from hunting, harm, and disturbance and stipulate that no person shall touch, feed or otherwise interact with individuals of the population, except under authority of the superintendent. It is important to note that as a wild population, Parks Canada does not consider the Sable Island horses to be domestic animals, which live and breed in tame conditions and depend on humankind for survival. 

Is Parks Canada considering camping as one of the options for the future of Sable Island?

Parks Canada’s priority is to protect and maintain the ecological integrity of Sable Island, and also to provide Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy this treasured place.

During the first phase of public consultations, the Agency heard from nearly all participants that any visitor experience opportunities on the island should be carefully managed and that potential impacts be monitored. With assurances that visitation would be compatible with and supportive of Parks Canada’s conservation goals, many participants expressed their desire to visit Sable Island National Park Reserve.

Since 2014, visits to Sable Island National Park Reserve have been day visits only and this will continue for the foreseeable future. Parks Canada intends to explore the possibility of limited overnight experiences, but there are no plans to establish a campground on the Island.

Parks Canada ‎will continue to be guided by its mandate to protect this iconic island and share its story with Canadians. A Visitor Experience Strategy is being developed to ensure carefully managed visitor experience opportunities meet the needs and expectations of visitors and align with the vision for the park.

What is Parks Canada's plan for visitation?

Parks Canada is a recognized leader in conservation and has a good track record for managing visitation in remote and fragile environments. The strategic plan for visitor experiences on Sable Island National Park Reserve has been considered as part of the management planning process. Since 2014, visits to Sable Island National Park Reserve have been limited to day trips and are carefully managed by Parks Canada through a registration system, mandatory orientation and provision of detailed trip planning information to ensure visitor safety and protection of the island’s resources.

Just as the island has been shaped by the forces of nature, it has also been shaped by people for hundreds of years. The vision is for people to continue to have a place in the park. That there are carefully-managed opportunities to experience this special place and that visitation does not compromise the environment and in fact supports its protection. Lastly, the vision is for Sable Island National Park Reserve to be accessible to Canadians without having to travel there and for them to have the opportunity to connect with this special place from home and in their communities.

Parks Canada ‎will continue to be guided by its mandate to protect this iconic island and share its story with Canadians. A Visitor Experience Strategy is being developed to ensure carefully managed visitor experience opportunities meet the needs and expectations of visitors and align with the vision for the park.

Will there be oil and gas exploration on Sable Island?

The establishment of Sable Island as a national park reserve is a major conservation gain.  Bill S-15 added Sable Island to the Canada National Parks Act - the strongest piece of legislation in Canada for the protection of natural places - providing Parks Canada with the policy and regulatory tools required to manage this national park reserve. With the creation of the Sable Island National Park Reserve, Canada and Nova Scotia agreed to implement a legislative ban on drilling from the surface of Sable Island out to one nautical mile. 

What was discovered during Parks Canada's archaeological survey of Sable Island?

During the survey, we located structural evidence of houses, barns, outbuildings, fences, light house features, and other building remnants. Generally, these were observed in areas where wind action has blown the sand from the features. In several areas, known foundation remnants observed in the past are currently covered by sand. In addition, we observed and recorded hundreds of artifacts associated with the house and living sites. Of particular research interest was the discovery of a high number of mid-to-late 18th century artifacts found within the zone of a later life-saving station, established on site in 1801. 

The geospatial location of each site and artifact debris field was surveyed and recorded with a digital maplogger and added to the geographical information system (GIS) designed for managing Sable Island's cultural heritage.  Although large amounts of new data were collected in 2015, the primary goal of the survey was to establish a base line of cultural resource information to serve as a record of the condition, potential, extent, and location of Sable Island's cultural resources. 

With the information already collected, we can begin to map the areas of high resource potential and define the overall heritage value of Sable Island’s human history. From there, the final step will include establishing a monitoring protocol to measure the impact of wind erosion and site exposure at each location. Accurate maps and photographic imagery of the exposed artifact fields and architectural features contribute to an overall assessment of the physical condition of a resource, and plans to safeguard it from additional loss. Sites like Sable Island National Park Reserve reflect the rich and varied heritage of our nation and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history.