Sirmilik National Park of Canada
Regulations and Conservation Practices
National parks protect the ecological integrity of landscapes and wildlife representative of Canada's vastness and diversity. Please tread lightly on the land as you explore the wonders and beauty of Sirmilik National Park of Canada. By respecting the following regulations and conservation practices, you will be helping to ensure the continued protection of the park's natural and cultural heritage for future generations.
- Fires are not permitted in this national park. Use a stove for cooking and be sure to bring sufficient warm and waterproof clothes.
- Pick up and pack out all of your litter. For those of you that smoke, that includes your cigarette butts. On your way out - when your pack is lighter - try to pick up any litter left by others. Report any large accumulations or large items, such as empty fuel drums, to park staff.
- Disturbing wildlife is illegal in a national park. Respect the need of the wildlife for undisturbed territory. We are the visitors here.
- Do not touch, feed or entice wildlife by holding out foodstuffs.
- Don't approach wildlife, even for photographs.
- Avoid known nesting, calving and denning areas.
- Watch for bird nests and chicks so as not to step on them; many arctic birds are ground nesters.
- Keep a safe distance from all wildlife and change your route if needed.
- It is unlawful to possess a firearm without a permit. The exception to this regulation is for beneficiaries of the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement and Nunavut Land Claim Agreement; they may carry firearms when engaged in traditional activities within National Parks in their lands
- Do not eat any edible plants. Much of the vegetation is sparse and some are rare, existing marginally on the most northerly extent of their range. Plants are also an important food for wildlife.
- Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects, such as bones, caribou antlers, as you found them. Allow others a sense of discovery! Also, these items are integral to the ecosystem as a food source for rodents, insects and other species and are broken down into the soil thereby providing valuable nutrients to plants. To remove, damage or destroy plants and natural objects is prohibited within national parks.
- Do not remove or disturb any rocks from any features that look - even remotely - like an archeological site. These sites include tent rings, fox traps and food caches and are almost indiscernible to the untrained eye. Archeological sites are important cultural resources that tell us about life in the park area up to 4,000 years ago.
- Do not build cairns, other markers, or leave messages in the dirt. Such markers detract from other visitors' sense of discovery and wilderness experience. They can also be misleading and potentially dangerous. For example, a cairn marking a good river crossing one day may mark a deadly crossing place when the river changes its course or flow, which rivers here do regularly. Do not disturb or destroy any cairns that you do find. Some are of great historical significance.
Choose routes on durable terrain such as bedrock, bare hard soil, gravel stream bottoms and snow patches. With such short growing seasons and harsh living conditions, the arctic environment is fragile. Avoid vegetated and soft soil areas, particularly grass-sedge meadows, which are critical feeding habitat for wildlife and are easily damaged by foot traffic.
In steep terrain travel on rock outcrops or snow. Avoid soil-covered surfaces. When descending loose scree, move slowly and cautiously, minimizing the movement of scree and reducing the erosion to the area. Spreading out can also reduce damage.
Select campsites in durable locations where signs of your occupation will be minimal, especially for base camps or if you are travelling in a large group. Avoid vegetated areas. Wearing soft shoes around camp is not only a great relief after a day spent in heavy hiking boots but also minimizes the impact around your campsite. Avoid camping near sensitive wildlife areas such as sedge-grass meadows. Do not dig trenches around tents or build rock wind breaks. If you use rocks to secure your tent, return them to their original position and location. Do not remove any rocks from any features that look - even remotely - like an archeological site, for example, tent rings, fox traps and food caches.
Dish and excess cooking water should be poured into a shallow sump hole away from campsite and bodies of water. Filter food scraps and pack them out with other litter.
Litter and food scraps can be minimized with careful planning and preparation. Food can be packaged in plastic bags instead of cans, bottles, or tin foil. Carefully measured meals should minimize leftovers. Avoid smelly foods.
Minimize the use of soaps and, when necessary, use biodegradable soap. Residual soap should not be dumped in lakes or streams. Sponge or "bird" bath using a pot of water well away from water bodies. This procedure allows the biodegradable soap to break down and filter through the soil before reaching any body of water.
Managing Human Waste
In Sirmilik National Park, one of our major expenses and challenges is managing human waste along the Akshayuk Pass corridor. Feces decompose very slowly in the Arctic environment and pathogens can survive arctic conditions.
If camping near the emergency shelters, use the outhouses for feces. A separate container is located in the outhouse for toilet paper. During the 2003 visitor season we will be testing a biodegradable bag for visitors to use to collect feces between outhouses that can then be deposited at the next outhouse along their route. These biodegradable bags should be cached inside a plastic bag until you can leave them at the next outhouse.
Those visitors who use "Depends", tampons or other sanitary products must also plan for their disposal. Please bring along enough plastic ziploc bags to pack these items out - the same as you pack out all your food garbage. A little powdered bleach in the baggies can reduce the smell. Sanitary items cannot be dealt with in the same manner as toilet paper and should not be left behind at the outhouses with feces or toilet paper.
As a very last resort, feces can be deposited under rocks 50 metres from camp sites, travel routes and water bodies. Avoid disturbing plant communities.
Urine in healthy people is sterile. Please urinate 50 metres away from travel routes, camping areas and water bodies. Remember to pack out or burn all toilet paper.
If you are travelling with a large group or using a base camp dig a shallow communal latrine (15 cm) at least 50 metres away from traffic routes, campsites, and bodies of water. Make sure the latrine hole is properly covered after use to hide its presence from those that follow and to discourage animals from digging it up.
If travelling along a body of salt water (i.e. one of the coastal areas of the park) it is acceptable to deposit your feces in a shallow pit below the high water mark.
We suggest to you that packing out your own waste is the last frontier for mountaineers and backpackers! We challenge you to cross it.