Sable Island is officially a national park reserve.

The final legislation came through on Dec. 1 to designate the Sable Island National Park Reserve.

"Although the waves rolled in just like they do everyday it was kind of a new era," said Jonathan Sheppard, the first park manager. "It's a big move for Sable Island to have that kind of protection."

Parks Canada said fewer than 250 people visit the island every year, but they expect that number to jump. The agency is working on a management plan.

Sable Island, about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax, is home to an estimated 400 wild horses, descendants of animals brought to the island during the late 1700s. It's also a breeding ground for seals and birds.

"This is an Island that has really captured people's imaginations," said Sheppard.

The move comes more than 50 years after children from across Canada wrote letters to then Prime Minister John Deifenbaker urging him to save the horses of Sable Island.

Halifax artist Richard Rudnicki was one of those children.

"It was a school project," he explained. "It was a long time ago. I kept it short because I spent most of my time on the drawing of the horse."

Rudnicki said he's been to the island with other artists to draw and paint.

"Parks Canada is much better suited to oversee a really unique place in the world like Sable Island," he said. "I think it's a terrific move."

The park will be closed to visitors for the winter. It reopens in June.

Parks Canada said because it's a remote park there will be few visitor facilities.

Visitors are responsible for their own safety.