04/25/2013 03:20 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia to open former Bowater lands to all-terrain vehicle use

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's natural resources minister says all-terrain vehicles will not be allowed into ecologically sensitive wetlands on the former Bowater lands.

The province bought more than 220,000 hectares of forest land in southwest Nova Scotia from Resolute Forest Products Ltd. in December.

Charlie Parker says ATVs will only be able to use designated roads in the area for recreational purposes.

The minister says the decision is based on the principle that the public should have access to public lands.

Parker says provincial conservation officers will patrol the area and ATV groups will also work to ensure their members obey the restrictions.

He says signs will be posted and gates will be used to block off areas where vehicles are prohibited.

The government will release further details on its decision on Monday.