British Columbia: National Parks

Submitted by The Catt-Trax2 Team on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 10:17am.

Report prepared by Tim Walton and Ben Russell, students in BCIT’s Fish, Wildlife and Recreation program.

The goal of the national park system is to create a network of parks that represent each of Canada’s diverse natural regions and heritage. There are over forty national parks in Canada, seven of which are in B.C. The long term goal of the National Parks System is to have a park in every distinct region of our country to protect the area for generations to come and to allow people from all over the world to experience the natural beauty of Canada.

British Columbia’s parks vary in size and age and cover the regions of the Pacific Coast Mountains, the Straight of Georgia Lowlands, the Columbian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. British Columbia’s National Parks are: Glacier, Mt. Revelstoke, Kootenay, Yoho, Gwaii Haanas, Pacific Rim, and the Gulf Islands. These parks attract visitor from Canada and across the world each year.

Glacier National Park was established in 1886 and is the third largest national park in British Columbia at 1,349 km2. The park is located in the heart of the Columbian Mountains amidst the Selkirk mountain range and the Purcell mountain range in the southeast part of B.C. Rogers Pass was discovered and used as a way for the Canadian Pacific Railway to pass through the Rocky Mountains. It is now the home of the Trans-Canada Highway. Glacier National Park consists of different zones ranging from old growth forests to over 400 glaciers. The park also contains habitat for a wide variety of animals ranging from mountain caribou, grizzly and black bear, wolverines, mountain goats and many more.

Mt. Revelstoke National Park is 260 km2 in size and adjacent to the southeastern border of B.C. It is located in the Columbia Mountains less than 50 km east of glacier national park. The park, which was formed in 1914, contains many of the same geological and ecological features as Glacier National Park, as they are both located in the same mountain range. There is diverse wildlife in Mount Revelstoke National Park making it a major area for research, mainly involving the declining populations of mountain caribou, grizzly bears, black bears and wolverines.

Kootenay National Park was established in 1920 and is 1,406 km2 in size. This park combines with other parks in the area to form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, one of the largest protected areas in the world. The park is located on the Banff-Windermere highway stretching along the western side of the Continental Divide in the southeast corner of B.C. This park spans from the spectacular glacier peaks of the continental divide to the beautiful, lush, grasslands of the Rocky Mountain trench. Kootenay is home to elk, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, mountains goat, grizzly bear, black bear, and many other animals.

Located in the western part of the Rocky Mountains and bordered on the east by the Kootenay and Banff national parks lays Yoho National Park. It is bisected by the Trans Canada Highway from east to west allowing motorists to view the spectacular glaciated Rocky Mountain peaks. This park includes geologic areas that hold fossilized remains of ancient marine creatures preserved in sedimentary rock known as Burgess Shale. This area is believed to have some of the finest Cambrian fossils in the world and has helped scientists gain a better understanding of the process of evolution.

Gwaii Haanas is located on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Its rugged west coast landscapes are considered by some to be the most beautiful in the world, ranging from towering glacially formed mountain peaks to white sand beaches. This park is only accessible by boat or chartered aircraft and contains no roads and very limited facilities. The area was originally inhabited by the Haida people. Their settlements have been preserved and are still intact. Visitors will be able to tour old native villages and see longhouses and carved totem poles amidst the giant old growth forests. Gwaii Haanas has a large abundance of marine life especially in an area called Burnaby narrows. The Queen Charlottes Islands have a large number of rare species that have evolved here due to the island’s isolation from the mainland and its smaller number of glaciers during the ice age. It is also home to the largest black bears in North America and a large variety of other marine and terrestrial wildlife.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island. It was established as a national park reserve along with the Nuu-chah-nulth or Nootka tribal Council in 1970 and re-negotiated in 1987. The park is made up of a thin strip running along the west coast of Vancouver Island, bordered by the Insular Mountains and is 286 km2. The park is known for its beautiful marine climate, and marine wildlife, as well as its awesome coastal rainforest, which is home to many old growth trees. The park attracts many visitors to its forests, beaches, and hiking trails. The West Coast Trail is visited and traveled on as one of the most popular hiking trails in all of Canada. Pacific Rim Park brings the beauty of the ocean, its tidal pools, and the surf on the 150 km stretch of beach and power of the old growth rain forests all into one beautiful park.

Nestled in between the highly urbanized Vancouver mainland and Vancouver Island in the Straight of Georgia, are the 35 km2 of land spread over fifteen different islands, and the 200 m of designated marine areas surrounding the islands. The newest National Park is British Columbia, established in 2003 to protect the land in an area where urban development is closing in from both sides. The reserve is accessible by ferry to its larger more populated islands, but the smaller islands are only accessible by private boat, kayak, or water taxi. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve protects its unique and diverse ecosystems, which consists of many different plants, animals, and marine life. The Gulf Islands National Park is still in a transitional stage, because of its young age, but being in heart of the province’s busiest marine travel, the park will protect the beauty and diversity of the ecosystem for generations to come

The National Parks in British Columbia, offers citizens of Canada and visitors from all corners of the world, a place to come and see the beauty British Columbia has to offer. These parks are set us as part of the National Parks System which plans to have a park represent every distinct region of our country. Currently they are trying to get a national park in the last region of B.C. that is not represented ─ The Interior Dry Plains. National Parks are something that we can enjoy today, and because of the protection they will be enjoyed for generations to come.

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