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Management Plan

13.0 PARK ZONING AND WILDERNESS AREA DECLARATION

Nakimu Caves which contain some six plus kilometres of intertwined passages are one of the special features within Glacier National Park and as such they are designated Zone 1 - Special Preservation.
Nakimu Caves
© Parks Canada/Mas Matsushita/MRGNP collection

Parks Canada’s zoning system classifies areas in national parks according to their need for protection. The suitability of these areas for visitor activities is a consideration in zoning decisions. The zoning system has five categories: special preservation, wilderness, natural environment, outdoor recreation and park services. In addition, certain areas that require special attention can be designated as Environmentally Sensitive Sites. Their identification complements the zoning system and is important to the protection of a full range of valued resources.

Figure 3: Zoning Designations and Environmentally Sensitive Sites
Figure 3: Zoning Designations and Environmentally Sensitive Sites
© Parks Canada

Figure 3 outlines the zones and environmentally sensitive sites for Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park.

Click here to view a larger version of this map (93 Kb) (This image is larger than 440 pixels)

Declared Wilderness

The Canada National Parks Act provides for areas of a national park to be declared, by regulation, as wilderness areas. The intent of this legislation is to enhance protection and maintain a high level of ecological integrity. In these declared wilderness areas, the legislation only permits development and activities required for essential services and resource protection. Wilderness designation is one of a range of tools to ensure the preservation of wilderness values and will not change current visitor use of the area. Zoning and landscape management unit objectives will determine levels of use in declared wilderness areas.

Declared wilderness areas will generally be consistent with land now classified as Zone II. Exceptions will include utility and service corridors that cut through Zone II areas, and small Zone II areas between transportation corridors. Appropriate Zone I and II areas identified in this plan, covering some 90% of the park, will become declared wilderness within one year of the plan’s approval. A map of the wilderness areas will be available to the public before the declaration occurs.

Zone I - Special Preservation

Zone I lands deserve special preservation because they contain or support unique, threatened or endangered natural or cultural features, or are among the best examples of the features that represent a natural region. Preservation is the key consideration. Motorized access and circulation are not permitted. In Glacier National Park the Nakimu Caves and the lower Cougar Valley are Zone I due to their significant karst features and important grizzly bear habitat. The caves include over five kilometres of passages and are one of the most extensive cave systems known in British Columbia. The cave system consists of three small upstream caves and a main cave. Sinkholes, springs, an unroofed cavern and a dry valley are visible at the surface. Features inside the caves include waterfalls, plunge pools, stalactite grottoes, moonmilk and seasonal and permanent ice deposits. Surface vegetation near the caves is also of special interest due to the presence of calcicole plant species. Calcicoles are rare in the Selkirk Mountains due to the limited amount of limestone and calcarious soils.

Access to the Zone I area will require a permit.

Zone II - Wilderness

These extensive areas represent and conserve the natural region in a wilderness state. Protecting ecosystems where there is minimal human interference is the key consideration. Zone II areas offer opportunities for visitors to experience the parks’ ecological characteristics firsthand with few, if any, rudimentary services and facilities. Facilities are restricted to trails, backcountry campgrounds, alpine huts, trail shelters, and warden patrol facilities. Motorized access is not permitted. Ninety-three percent of the parks will be managed as Zone II.

Zone III - Natural Environment

In Zone III areas, visitors discover the parks’ natural and cultural heritage through recreational activities that require few rustic services and facilities. No motorized access is permitted. Zone III applies to areas where visitor use and facilities exceed the acceptable standards for Zone II. The Zone III area in Mount Revelstoke National Park includes the Eva Lake-Miller Lake trail corridor. This is the most heavily-used alpine area in the park. The Natural Environment zone also includes the hiking trails along the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway. Zone III trails are used primarily by dayhikers, although overnight use does occur in this zone. Zone III areas in Glacier National Park include the series of hiking trails in the Illecillewaet and Asulkan areas.

Zone IV - Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor recreation zones are limited areas capable of accommodating a broad range of opportunities for understanding, appreciating and respecting the parks’ heritage value. Appropriate opportunities and related essential services and facilities are provided in ways that impact the ecological integrity of the park to the smallest extent possible. Direct access by motorized vehicles is permitted. In Mount Revelstoke National Park the Meadows-in-the-Sky-Parkway is a Zone IV area. The transportation corridor, including many trailheads, picnic areas and viewpoints, through Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park is a Zone IV area.

Zone V - Park Services

Park operations and administration, visitor services, and support facilities are concentrated in park service zones. In Glacier National Park the Zone V area includes the Rogers Pass compound, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, and the Glacier Park Lodge and service station. In Mount Revelstoke National Park the Zone V area includes the One Mile compound and residential area.

Environmentally Sensitive Sites

This designation applies to naturally or culturally significant or sensitive features or areas that require special protection. Visitor use will be managed to protect resources. Low elevation wetland and old-growth forests will be researched and mapped over the next five years. Some of these forest areas are habitat corridors with rare or endangered species that contribute to and require special protection. The following areas have been designated as Environmentally Sensitive Sites:

  1. The Cascade Caves and Bridge
    • sensitive cave formations
    • frequently used grizzly bear habitat
    • culturally significant bridge
    • access to area is a public safety concern
  2. Beaver Valley Fen
    • significant spring-fed wetland
    • only calcarious fen known in the park
    • extremely high invertebrate biodiversity (e.g., hosts 25% of all British Columbia’s dragonfly species)

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