Monitoring - Human Use

Firth River Campsite Monitoring

Rationale

Vegetation monitoring plot.
Vegetation monitoring plot.

In Ivvavik National Park, approximately 80 percent of park visitors travel along the Firth River and use some of the 35 identified campsites along the river. A number of these sites are used repeatedly each summer and 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. Campsites along the Firth River are monitored annually to identify human caused impacts, to determine if any wildlife threats exist, to identify sensitive species in the area, to determine if the site should be closed and to identify sites that need to be 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 twice each season, once in the spring and once in the fall.
  • Spring monitoring occurs before the first visitor river trips. 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.
  • Fall monitoring is focused on identifying impacts resulting from visitation during the past 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 human 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 to ask park visitors which campsites they used. This information is used by Parks Canada Agency to identify which campsites are likely to be most impacted by human use.

Years of Data

  • 1997-ongoing

Results

  • Campsite at Caribou fence rapid.
    Campsite at Caribou Fence Rapid.
    Campsites were monitored in the spring from June 16-23, 2001 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 July 17, 2001 as wolves did not appear to be using the den this year.
  • Muskeg Creek campsite remained closed this year due to nesting peregrine falcons in the nearby cliffs.
  • The campsite at Caribou stick fence remained closed this year to allow plant regeneration.
  • Campsites were monitored again from August 20-28, 2001. Caribou Stick Fence and Margaret Lake West campsites were surveyed in detail for vegetation regrowth.
  • The vegetation regrowth at Caribou Stick Fence and Margaret Lake West is progressing well. Caribou stick fence site will remain closed until the vegetation has completely recovered.
  • Human waste and garbage was found stuffed in ground squirrel holes at the Margaret Lake airstrip. The waste was collected and carried out by park staff.