Conservationists congratulated the Canadian government and First Nations on the announcement of Canada's newest planned national park ,Nts'ihch'oh(pronounced NAT-chee-oh).
The new park will build on 40 million acres protected in Canada’s boreal forest in the past year.
Larry Innes, Executive Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative, joined other conservationists in celebrating today's announcement of plans to develop a new national park in the headwaters of the Nahanni River.
Innes congratulated the Government of Canada, the people of Tulita and the territorial government for reaching this important milestone towards Canada's newest national park. “We celebrate the importance of what the Tulita Dene and Metis communities have undertaken with the governments here today,” said Innes. “The proposal to establish the Nts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve is truly a gift for future generations of Canadians and indeed, people around the world.”
The new National Park will be Larger than Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies or the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States, and encompasses spectacular wilderness and important wildlife habitat. The area is known as a habitat for Dall’s sheep, mountain goats, woodland caribou and moose. It has the northernmost population of mountain goats in Canada, while upland areas provide calving grounds for woodland caribou during the summer.
The land for the park was withdrawn in 2003, and quietly announced on February 26, 2008. The official announcement was made on April 7, 2008 by Federal Environment Minister John Baird who said, “with this historic agreement announced today, we are once again taking action to protect Canada’s North for future generations.”
Since January 2007, the federal governments, working with First Nations, the territorial government and local stakeholders through the NWT Protected Areas Strategy and regional land use planning initiatives, have designated 40 million acres for conservation in the Northwest Territories. This most recent announcement compliments the Government of Canada's August 2007 announcement of plans to expand the existing Nahanni National Park to include the entire watershed. It is also one more step towards completing the NWT Protected Areas Strategy and Canada's national parks system.
The announcement grants interim protection for 7600 km2 (1.8 million acres) in the headwaters of the Nahanni River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The proposed new National Park will be called Nts'ihch'oh, which means “stands like a porcupine” in the local Dene language.
“Canadians can be proud of the fact that our government has recognized the importance of protecting this entire region, and is taking steps today to establish not one but two of these world class conservation areas in the Nahanni region of the NWT”, stated Innes. “I think that future generations will come to consider the Nahanni National Park and the future Nts'ihch'oh National Park in much the same way as we now look at Banff and Jasper.”
Communities within the Sahtu region, together with the, territorial and federal governments are also considering additional lands to complete a conservation network in the region through both the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy and through the Sahtu Land Use Plan. The goal is to balance conservation with proposed development in the region
Today's announcement was also well received by the international conservation community. Steve Kallick of the Pew Environment Group's International Boreal Conservation Campaign noted, “This year's conservation withdrawals in the Northwest Territories are some of the largest in North American history. These are globally significant commitments, and demonstrate that Canada's is taking action to protect the internationally important Boreal Forest.”