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Pukaskwa National Park

Management Plan Review

Bulletin - April 2010

Halfway Lake
Halfway Lake, Pukaskwa National Park
© Parks Canada

About Pukaskwa

Located within the traditional home of the Anishinaabeg, Pukaskwa National Park officially opened to the public in 1983. Here is where the Canadian Shield meets Lake Superior – the largest freshwater lake in the world. This is a rugged eroded-mountain landscape with rushing rivers and streams, forests dominated by black spruce, jack pine and white birch, and large mammals like moose, black bear and woodland caribou. There are rocky headlands, sheltered coves and sand and cobble beaches.

The Anishinaabeg (or Ojibway) are the people of the north shore of Lake Superior. This is land that they have known for many generations.

Beginning in the late 17th century the area was opened up for resource extraction: furs, timber harvesting, and more recently mining and hydroelectricity. Today these activities are complemented by tourism, where Pukaskwa is among the largest of a network of national, provincial and state parks and historic places in the Lake Superior basin. In 2007, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area became the newest member of the network. The park, in proximity to several First Nations and to the Town of Marathon, covers a total area of almost 1900 square kilometres. The front country contains a semi-serviced campground, a visitor centre, and an Anishinaabe interpretation area. The backcountry, the remote wilderness, offers a spectacular 60-km coastal hiking trail, a shoreline paddling route, and river routes along the White and Pukaskwa Rivers. Opportunities for hiking, canoeing and kayaking in this area allow visitors to experience the awesome beauty that is Pukaskwa.

While most visitors to Pukaskwa come from Ontario (with a large percentage from Ontario's north), the park welcomes visitors from across Canada, the U.S. and around the world. We want to ensure that Canadians and others discover this special place in such a way that it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.

You are invited... share your views, give us your opinion and make your voice heard by being a part of the renewal of the Pukaskwa National Park Management Plan.

A management plan is a strategic guide to managing a national park over the next 10-15 years. It provides broad direction on the protection of natural and cultural resources, the visitor experience, and public outreach education. This is the key accountability document in terms of park stewardship and reporting to Canadians. It is signed by the Minister and tabled in Parliament.

A planning team has been working with information on the park's ecological and cultural resources, and on its visitor patterns and services. The team has come up with some draft proposals which are contained in this bulletin.

The new management plan will reflect both Parks Canada's interests and those of local First Nations, partners and stakeholders, the local community, and the public at large. Pukaskwa is your park and your input will help make sure we're on the right track. Help us plan the future of this spectacular piece of the Canadian wilderness.

Robin Heron, Superintendent
Pukaskwa National Park

Our Accomplishments Since the Last Management Plan Review

The last management plan for Pukaskwa National Park was produced in 1995. Since then, the park has succeeded in:

Facilitating Meaningful Visitor Experiences:

  • Opened the Anishinaabe Camp for First Nations communities to experience and share their culture with each other and park visitors.

  • Upgraded the Hattie Cove Campground by installing a new potable water facility to ensure safe drinking water, and improving a number of campsites to increase opportunities for RV users.

  • Implemented a new backcountry reservation system and business licenses to ensure a sense of solitude in the backcountry.

Reaching out to Canadians in their Communities and at School:

  • Created a series of multi-media education kits that gave teachers props, resource materials, books, videos and lesson plans to share Pukaskwa's geology, wildlife and First Nations culture with local students

  • Partnered with schools to host song-writing workshops with original songs about Pukaskwa – written and performed by local students.

  • Partnered with communities to offer placements and student opportunities at the park.

Maintaining the Integrity of the Park's Ecosystem

  • Completed and implemented an approved fire management plan.

  • Integrated park values into management decision on adjacent lands through the involvement of stakeholder groups.

  • Completed a comprehensive large mammal predator/prey study.

Where Are We in the Process?

Backcountry hiking
Backcountry hiking, Pukaskwa National Park
© Parks Canada

The process of creating a new management plan began with the gathering of all available background information in a document called the State of the Park Report. This document examines conditions and trends with regard to Aboriginal perspectives, ecological integrity, species at risk, cultural resources, and the visitor experience.

The process continued with the appointment of a Park Planner to work with a team of park and Field Unit staff. Together they have discussed issues and opportunities, which include:

  • The need to build an enduring relationship with local First Nations, in particular the honoring of traditional rights, and working to accommodate their interests which include opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship;

  • The need to generate and retain continued interest in the park, by making it relevant and meaningful to Canadians, thus encouraging continued and repeat visits. This means understanding more about visitor needs and expectations.

  • The need to ensure the protection and monitoring of ecosystems – the Lake Superior Coast, and the backcountry with its populations of deer, woodland caribou, moose and wolf – so that park users can continue to enjoy the park's spectacular wilderness.

The team then conducted a "scoping exercise" where ideas for a vision and key strategies were developed – the very ideas presented in this bulletin. These ideas are shared with local First Nations and Métis, and with stakeholders and the general public. Some initial meetings with Aboriginal peoples have been held. The feedback we receive from all participants will be used in draft plan formulation.

Proposed Future Direction for the Park

Creating a Shared Vision

Photo 1: Canoeing at Pukaskwa - Photo 2: Dogsledding, Pukaskwa National Park - Photo 3: Walking near Hattie Cove, Pukaskwa National Park
Photo 1: Canoeing, Pukaskwa National Park - Photo 2: Dogsledding, Pukaskwa National Park - Photo 3: Walking near Hattie Cove, Pukaskwa National Park
© Parks Canada

In thinking about what the future could be for Pukaskwa National Park, it is important to consider what the land means to Aboriginal peoples, to members of the community, and to members of the general public. The planning team would like to put forward these elements that could be blended into a shared vision that is unique to Pukaskwa:

  • Home of the Anishinaabeg: The spiritual connection between the Anishinaabeg and their land is recognized, understood, respected, and celebrated.

  • A transformative wilderness experience: With its boreal forest character, spectacular natural shoreline and iconic Canadian wildlife, Pukaskwa offers to people from near and far the discovery of a landscape that has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.

  • A "cornerstone" protected area: As part of a network of protected areas in the Lake Superior basin, Pukaskwa is an exemplary protector of native species and cultural assets.

  • A place of learning: Members of the local community, visitors to Pukaskwa, and the general public view the park as a unique place of learning. People are connected to this land through traditional First Nations teaching, professional interpretation, and wilderness travel.

  • A shared heritage: Pukaskwa is recognized as a community builder for its cooperative approach to decision-making.

What is your vision for the park? What kind of park do you see 10-15 years from now? We invite you to consider these elements and we welcome your ideas.

Moving Forward

White River
White River, Pukaskwa National Park
© Parks Canada

We invite you to consider the following proposed key strategies for the Park. The purpose of these strategies is create a direction for the future of Pukaskwa National Park, one that addresses the issues and challenges and reflects desired outcomes for the visitor experience, public outreach education, and protection of the natural and cultural environment.. There are three main strategies and two approaches to managing specific areas.

An enduring relationship: Parks Canada wishes to have sound and mutually beneficial relations with Aboriginal peoples, and proposes an advisory committee structure involving neighbouring First Nations with a view to pursuing cooperative management in such areas as employment, business opportunities and environmental stewardship. Other actions could include further work in cultural interpretation, commemoration, supporting the use of traditional territory, and incorporating traditional knowledge into programming.

A wilderness preserved: Protected and appropriately managed, Pukaskwa's wilderness is a place where native species and natural processes can persist, and where visitors can discover, learn and be inspired. Possible actions could include investing in ecological research and monitoring, using public outreach education to raise awareness and understanding about the value of the ecosystem, and partnering with adjacent land managers, schools and universities and other stakeholders on ways to promote and enhance wilderness protection.

A "Superior" connection: Parks Canada proposes to foster a greater awareness and sense of connection, on the part of more Canadians, to the spirit of Pukaskwa. Possible actions could include a strategy to identify future direction for visitor experiences, developing a focused marketing and promotion program, investing in infrastructure to meet visitor expectations, and facilitating more engagement in programs that meet the interests and expectations of visitors.

Area management - Hattie Cove: The Hattie Cove area allows visitors to experience the park's wilderness character from a semi-serviced campground with well developed trails and visitor facilities. Parks Canada proposes to re-examine the concept for this area to reflect visitor needs and expectations. In so doing, Parks Canada wishes to build a stronger relationship with local First Nations so as to incorporate their traditional use of the land and to recognize their future role in park management.

Area management - Lake Superior Coast: The Lake Superior coastal area within the Park represents the most popular yet most environmentally sensitive part of the backcountry. Parks Canada proposes to re-examine the concept for this area to reflect changes in use patterns, visitor expectations, and species-at-risk information.

We’d like to hear from you!

National Parks are established, protected and presented on behalf of the people of Canada. Your knowledge of the land, your experiences in the park and your hopes for its future are important to us. Only by understanding what your expectations are with regard to services, activities and facilities, can we plan effectively for its future. And as a visitor, your time with us is meant to be enjoyable and we'd like you to share that experience with others.

In your comments to us please consider:

  • Your vision for the park: "Pukaskwa National Park should be a place where ..."

  • Any issues or opportunities that you want to bring to our attention

  • Other management directions not mentioned here that you think should be included

  • Anything else that you would like us to know about or consider

How You Can Participate

  • Write to us
    Mail: Pukaskwa Management Plan Review, P.O. Box 212
    Heron Bay, Ontario P0T 1R0
    Fax: (807) 229-2097

  • Talk to a representative of the Planning Team
    Robin Heron (Superintendent) (807) 229-0801
    Bill DeGrace, Park Planner (613) 938-5942

  • Drop in to the Administration Building at the park
    The building is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday

  • Leave a message with your views, questions, or ideas
    Call: (807) 229-0801

Your views, comments and ideas will be gathered until September 1, 2010.

What Happens Next?

Old Dave’s Harbour, Otter Island
Old Dave's Harbour, Otter Island, Pukaskwa National Park
© Parks Canada

The team will continue to meet with First Nations and Métis, and plans meetings with partners and stakeholders. Once feedback from you and others has been received and carefully analyzed, the Park Planner, in cooperation with the team, will prepare a new draft Management Plan with a vision and strategies based on input from all. The final plan will present an inspiring picture of the future desired state of the park, and set objectives and actions that can be successfully managed over time. There is a due date of December 2010 for Pukaskwa's Management Plan. Once approved, the new management plan will be made available to the public.

Your views are important to us. Thank you!