Monitoring - Human Use

Firth River Campsite Monitoring

Rationale

Muskeg Creek Campsite
Muskeg Creek Campsite

In Ivvavik National Park, approximately 80 percent of park visitors use some of the 35 identified campsites along the Firth River. A number of these sites are used repeatedly each summer by large groups of people. Potential impacts to these campsites from human use include damage to vegetation, soil erosion and improper disposal of human waste and garbage. All of these impacts can affect the park environment and the quality of the wilderness experience for park visitors. Campsites along the Firth River are monitored annually to identify human caused impacts and to determine if sites should be closed and restored.

Objectives


  • To identify and track human caused impacts to campsites along the Firth River.
  • To identify wildlife threats and sensitive species at campsites along the Firth River.
  • To provide managers with information necessary to make decisions regarding campsite closures and restoration.

Methods and Information Collected

  • There are 35 campsites monitored along the Firth River between Margaret Lake and Nanaluk Spit.
  • The monitoring focuses on campsites that are not affected by seasonal spring flooding. These campsites are generally located upstream and downstream of the canyon section of the river. Campsites in the canyon section of the river that receive frequent use by large groups are also monitored.
  • Campsite monitoring is conducted in the spring and in the fall every year.
  • Spring monitoring occurs before the first visitor river trip. This monitoring is conducted to identify wildlife threats or concerns, such as wildlife carcasses near the site and active nest or den sites in the area. If any of these conditions exist the campsite will be closed. Once these conditions no longer pose a threat to humans or wildlife the site is reopened.
  • Mervin Joe and Herbert Allen monitoring vegetation.
    Mervin Joe and Herbert Allen monitoring vegetation.
    Fall monitoring is conducted to identify impacts resulting from visitation during the summer. This involves comparing the composition and density of the vegetation at the campsite with the surrounding area, determining the presence and extent of bare soil, bank erosion, trails and root exposure caused by human use of the site, identifying damage to vegetation in the surrounding area and identifying any waste or garbage left by people.
  • The monitoring is conducted by completing an assessment form. Based on the results, or the existence of a wildlife threat or concern, additional monitoring is initiated or the campsite is closed.
  • Additional monitoring involves a detailed examination of vegetation in heavily impacted areas. Photopoints are established along a transect and vegetation composition and density is measured.
  • A campsite reporting program began in 2000, asking park visitors which campsites they used. This information is used by Parks Canada to identify which campsites are likely to be most impacted by human use.

Years of Data

  • 1997-ongoing

Results

  • Campsites were monitored in the spring from June 25-July 9, 2002 to assess closures and check for wildlife problems.
  • Joe Creek valley bottom was closed due to a nearby wolf den. The closure was lifted on August 13, 2002 as wolves had finished using the den for the year.
  • The Firth River and all campsites between Sheep Creek and Engigstciak were closed between July 10-15, 2002 because of a high number of grizzly bears by the river. The bears were feeding on the carcasses of caribou which had drowned while trying to cross the river during spring flood.
  • Campsites were also monitored from August 12-20, 2002. Photos were taken from established photopoints at Caribou Stick Fence, Wolf Tors, Lower Sluice Box, Margret Lake West and Muskeg Creek campsites. These photos help with monitoring vegetation cover, and other changes to campsites.
  • The remains of fires were found at 2 locations, despite the fact that fires are prohibited in the park.