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National Parks in Canada
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The Go Northwest! definition of the Pacific Northwest includes the province of British Columbia, with a small extension into Alberta via Banff and Jasper national parks situated on the Rocky Mountains border, and via Waterton Lakes National Park on the US/Canada border.
National Parks in Canada are administered by Parks Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Areas appropriate for designation as a national park are "representative natural areas of Canadian significance." Representative is a key definition here, for the park system is aware "there should be at least one national park located in each of Canada's 39 natural regions. To achieve this, 17 additional national parks are needed." In addition to their natural features, many national parks contain areas of cultural and historic significance. By law, national parks are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations. As well, management of the parks must ensure the protection of their "ecological integrity." That is, "a condition where the structure and function of an ecosystem are unimpaired by human activity and are likely to persist."
British Columbia and southwestern Alberta are situated within the so-called "Western Mountains" geographical unit. Within the Western Mountains are 9 of those 39 identified natural regions mentioned above.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and South Moresby Island/Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve are in the fjordal Pacific Coast Mountains natural region. Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national parks are in the rugged Columbia Mountains natural region. Banff, Yoho, Waterton Lakes, Jasper and Kootenay national parks are in the forested Rocky Mountains natural region.
Since the 1885, with the establishment of Banff National Park, the system has grown to include 38 national parks and national reserves, and 4 marine areas encompassing about 224 466 km2, or about 2% of Canada's land mass.
Historically some parks were created around national transportation corridors, and incorporated communities and recreational facilities such as golf courses and commercial downhill skiing areas. Although these continue to exist, Parks Canada regards such land usage as inappropriate for future parks. No additional lands will be made available for the expansion of golf courses and skiing areas, or for private cottages and camps or seasonal camping areas.
The parks are managed according to a system of zones. The zones are:
It is the policy of Parks Canada that sport hunting is not permitted in the national parks, although sport fishing may be permitted in designated areas.
Home page for the national parks section of the official web site.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West, 4th Edition by Fodor's. This guide provides information on 36 national parks in the northwest including an overview of each park, illustrated features, trip planning tools, outdoor recreational activities, recommendations and advice. Order now...
Fodor's Pacific Northwest: with Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, 21st Edition. Written by local experts, this guide has the latest information with expansive insights, illustrations, recommendations, advice and trip planning tools, such as easy to read maps, to plan your exciting adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Order now...
Trees of Western North America (Princeton Field Guide) by Richard Spellenberg, Christopher J. Earle, Gil Nelson and Amy K. Hughes. This easy to use field guide covers 630 species of trees and features detailed descriptions, illustrations, range maps, taxomony and names of each tree. Order now...
American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America Western Region by DK Publishing. This guide is ideal for every age of bird lovers and features information on behavior, nesting and habitat for the wide range of birds commonly seen west across the Great Plains and West Coast. Order now...
Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest: Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates by David Moskowitz. This book includes illustrated descriptions for more than 180 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, northern California, Idaho, and western Montana plus maps. Order now...
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