FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries and the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development are moving forward with a plan to enhance land use on the former Tracadie Range in the northeastern part of the province.

A land use plan has been in place for more than a decade and was developed in consultation with various stakeholders. Part of the plan will see wild blueberry development on or near the former range. Other elements of the plan take into consideration recreational activities, protection of wildlife, natural areas and water courses.

“Conservation remains a high priority for the department,” said Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland. “We have listened to the concerns expressed by stakeholders and we have revisited the broader land use plan. In consideration of expected wild blueberry development, forested wildlife corridors will be in place in targeted zones as well as larger than required buffers around waterways and roadways. The balance of the area not used for wild blueberry development will be sustainably managed for forestry.”

Through the Nature Legacy Initiative, the government is also considering options to add to the network of permanently conserved sites in the former range.

Two requests for proposals (RFP) have been issued by the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries for wild blueberry development on Crown land on and near the former range.

One RFP is to solicit proposals resulting in new or enhanced processing, value-add activities or other business investments associated with the leasing of about 830 hectares of Crown land for wild blueberry development. The second RFP will be open to existing blueberry growers and others interested in leasing and developing Crown land for wild blueberry development. About 1,108 hectares comprised of 28 parcels, will be available on the former range and roughly 270 hectares comprised of four parcels will be available close to the range.

“Our wild blueberry industry has been a growth sector for the province, and there are opportunities on Crown lands for continued growth,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “Our objective is to stimulate economic growth along the wild blueberry value chain and grow and process as many wild blueberries in New Brunswick as possible. More development will have a positive economic impact on the region.”

An information package outlining the terms and conditions for submitting a proposal is available online. The submission deadline is 1:30 p.m., March 1, 2022.

The department will also continue to work with First Nation communities to create new economic development opportunities through the development of Crown land for wild blueberry production on the former Tracadie Range.

New Brunswick’s wild blueberry industry is composed of about 250 producers growing on more than 16,000 hectares of land, of which about 60 per cent is on Crown lands.