Disappointing boundary for new Nááts’ihch’oh National Park in Nahanni Headwaters

  • Published on May 16 2014 |
  • This article is tagged as:

May 16 2014

Disappointing boundary for new Nááts’ihch’oh National Park in Nahanni Headwaters

Science and public opinion ignored: CPAWS

Legislation tabled in Parliament May 14th to establish a new national park reserve around the headwaters of the NWT’s South Nahanni River, ignores scientific evidence of what is needed to protect the area’s wildlife and water.  The boundary of Nááts’ihch’oh [pronounced naah-tseen-CHO] National Park Reserve leaves out the most critical wildlife habitat areas, including caribou calving and breeding grounds, and major upstream tributaries of the South Nahanni River, which flow into Nahanni National Park downstream. 

“Creating a new national park in Canada is generally welcome news,” said Alison Woodley, CPAWS’ National Director of Parks. “Unfortunately this park boundary does not reflect the extensive scientific evidence of what’s needed to protect the Nahanni watershed, nor does it take into account the overwhelming public support for protecting the entire Nahanni headwaters expressed during the public consultations on the proposed park.  More work is still needed to protect the Nahanni.”

The tabling of this Bill follows an announcement by the Prime Minister in August 2012 about the creation of the new park, which provoked serious concerns from conservation organizations and local communities about the inadequacies of the park boundary. Unfortunately, only very minor changes were subsequently made to the boundary and they do not address the scientific evidence of what’s needed.

Nááts’ihch’oh is an area of great ecological and cultural significance. It includes critical habitat for two woodland caribou herds, as well as grizzly bears, Dall’s sheep and mountain goats.  The legislation tabled yesterday would create a national park that leaves the most important habitat for these species outside the park. 

“This is really a missed opportunity to adequately protect one of Canada’s most precious World Heritage Sites,” said Kris Brekke, Executive Director of CPAWS Northwest Territories Chapter. “Since the federal government missed the boat, protection of important missing pieces will now need to be secured through other mechanisms.”

“If resource development in Canada’s North is to be truly sustainable it must include the proper protection of important ecological and cultural lands such as Nááts’ihch’oh -- these areas are necessary to safeguarding our land, water and wildlife and the way of life they sustain, “notes Brekke.

CPAWS has worked for more than four decades to protect the Nahanni starting with securing  the original Nahanni National Park Reserve in the early 1970s.  In 2009, we publicly celebrated the Dehcho First Nations and Government of Canada’s action to massively expand Nahanni National Park Reserve.  And for many years we have worked to secure protection of the Nahanni headwaters.


Alison Woodley (National Office, Ottawa), awoodley@cpaws.org
613-569-7226 ext 230
613-203-1172 (cell)

Kris Brekke (NWT Chapter office, Yellowknife), kris@cpaws.org