Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Canada to Establish a New National Park

Last week, an agreement was announced between federal officials and first nations for the creation of a vast new national park centred on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. The proposed park would encompass an area of 33,525 square kilometers - an area four times the size of Yellowstone. Included in the proposed area are 4,000 square kilometers of the lake itself (the world's tenth largest), as well as a key northern landscape representing the transition zone between boreal forest and northern tundra that is home to caribou, moose, grizzlies and black bears.

The local Lutsel K'e Dene first nations, who negotiated the agreement with the federal government, are proposing to call the new area Thaydene Nene National Park, which means "land of the ancestors" in the Dene language. Like the DeCho first nations of the Nahanni watershed, the threat of mining development was a key consideration in their agreement to support the creation of the park - a stance that has changed since they initially opposed the park's creation 30 years ago.

Formal talks on the creation of the park will now begin, with the expectation that the park boundaries will be ready for parliamentary approval in three years. The last time Canada gained a new national park was 2005 when the federal government signed an agreement with the Labrador Inuit Association for the creation of the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador.

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