Sturgeon County > Newsroom > Public Engagement > Sandy Lake Wilderness Area

Sandy Lake Wilderness Area

The Sandy Lake Wilderness Area is a 167-hectare Environmental Reserve in the west of Sturgeon County. The area’s maintenance and use has been largely self-regulated. Sturgeon County Council passed a motion on June 8, 2021 to explore opportunities for several projects including the Sandy Lake Wilderness Area. In order to properly enhance the use of the area, a concept plan and biophysical assessment were initiated to identify potential amenities and natural area management approaches. The biophysical assessment includes things like the natural and sensitive features in the area. 

The purpose of the project is to prepare a Sandy Lake Wilderness Area Concept and Natural Area Management Plan. 

What's Happening?

The County hosted an in-person creative workshop on September 14, 2021 to identify:  

  • Existing site issues that the plan should address 

  • Desired uses and amenity ideas 

  • Ways to manage the area in the future 

The input gathered at the workshop had three categories  

  • Impact on the space – through other users and lack of amenities 

  • Desired uses and amenity ideas – including picnic and day use amenities, trail connections, controlling off-highway vehicle use, maintenance and enforcement, and specific improvements to meadow, forest, wetland, and wildlife areas 

  • Management plans for the space – which showed support for a blending of community and County leadership in managing the space 


This input is outlined in greater detail in the Sandy Lake Wilderness Area What We Heard Report  - Click to Download


What's Next?

The County is now using the input gathered to develop draft concepts for the Sandy Lake Wilderness Area. In January the County plans to conduct further engagement to: 

  • Identify a preferred concept plan and design approach 

  • Review options and features for budget prioritization 

  • Identify shared wilderness area management responsibilities with community partners 


Phase I:
Lay of the Land


Phase II:
Concept Development


Phase III:
A Vision Forward


Phase IV:


A consultant was retained by the County to assess the existing site conditions including the suitability for development. The completion of a Biophysical Assessment (BA) will describe the significant natural, cultural and historical features, and landscape context. It will document vegetation, wetlands, riparian condition, wildlife, species of conservation concern, surface water, contours, soils, landforms, and trails/tracks.  Based on this assessment development opportunities and constraints will be described. The consultant will assess and prioritize recreational needs of the surrounding community based on the public engagement results. 

Status: Complete Early Fall 2021

This phase forms a framework for a preferred concept design for the wilderness area. The project team will undertake a detailed evaluation of the biophysical, infrastructure, historical/cultural inventory, relevant policy documents, as well as public and stakeholder engagement outcomes. A preliminary site development program statement that establishes the extent of acceptable uses and possible facilities/infrastructure will be drafted. Opportunities and constraints mapping that summarizes the context and development of a Framework Plan will help establish landscape themes and possible land management directions.  

The County will then bring development concept alternatives that indicate choices and directions for management zones, site access, general site circulation, uses/activities, buffers, and infrastructure options. 

The project team will engage the pubic once again to identify a preferred concept approach. Planning for this public engagement is currently underway.  

Status: In-Progress Early Winter 2021 - 2022 (We are Here)

Draft management principles, goals, and strategies for vegetation, wildlife and habitat, hydrology and water resources, access, safety and human use to conserve the site into the future will be developed based on work completed in previous phases and the preferred concept. Site-specific benchmarks will be included for the sustainability/management plan as well as an implementation strategy and cost estimates. Opportunities for regional partnerships will be explored. Prior to Council review and approval, the concept and management plan will be presented to the public for final review and input. 

Status: Not-Started Winter 2021 - 2022

Based on Councils direction, administration will include the development of park features in the annual capital budget process and continue to pursue grant funding.  

Status: Not-Started 

Find Out More

For more information on the project, please contact 

Karolina Drabik