The Canadian Province of Manitoba Makes Largest-Ever Land Donation to Protect Iconic Lake Manitoba Wetland

Flood Control, Water Quality, Carbon Storage, Wildlife to Benefit:  Minister Mackintosh
A Lake Manitoba wetland about five times the size of Birds Hill Park called Big Grass Marsh has been donated by the municipalities of Lakeview and Westbourne for conservation, making this the largest such land donation in the province’s history, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.  This is the largest conservation agreement of its kind in Canada.
“This is the kind of forward-thinking, responsible habitat management that ensures the protection of an iconic wetland that provides flood control, water quality enhancement, protection from drainage, carbon storage and wildlife habitat,” Minister Mackintosh said.  “This region is historic and was actually the first wetland project tackled by Ducks Unlimited more than 75 years ago.” 

The two municipalities have signed conservation agreements with the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation that will permanently protect 45,000 acres of wetland and aspen parklands near the south basin of Lake Manitoba.  It will continue to be open to hunting and trapping. 

“This internationally recognized wetland has exceptional biological diversity and watershed values,” said John Whitaker, chair, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.  “The corporation is honoured to accept these donations on behalf of all Manitobans.”

Permanently protecting this important region will continue to reduce the amount of phosphorous in water heading to Lake Manitoba by about 40 tonnes per year and ensure that it continues to store about three million tonnes of organic carbon, the minister said, adding that is the equivalent of storing a year’s worth of greenhouse-gas emissions from about 2.2 million vehicles. 

“As more areas become cleared and cultivated, it is important to keep land like this in its natural state and available for grazing," said Reeve Phillip Thordarson, Rural Municipality (RM) of Lakeview.

“The RM of Westbourne is pleased to know that these lands will continue to be managed and maintained the way they are now,” Reeve David Single added,

This effort will also support and diversify the local economy as an eco-tourism destination, Minister Mackintosh said.  This internationally recognized bird-watching area is a destination of choice for people who come to see thousands of ducks, up to 200,000 geese and numerous sand hill cranes in their natural habitat.  The marsh also holds a significant amount of water from the Whitemud River in the spring and grows significantly during wet periods, which helps reduce flooding. 

This announcement supports TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, an eight-year plan that supports environmental protection while ensuring a prosperous and environmentally conscious economy. 

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