Significant Boating Hazards in the Peace-Athabasca Delta and Peace / Athabasca / Slave River Systems in Wood Buffalo National Park

Issued: May 08, 2020

FORT CHIPEWYAN, AB, May 8, 2020 – The break-up of the Peace, Athabasca and Slave Rivers has resulted in significant ice jamming and flooding throughout the Peace Athabasca Delta and on river corridors in Wood Buffalo National Park.

The flooding upstream of the park has resulted in large volumes of trees, stumps and woody debris mixed in with the ice flowing downstream. River channels in the Peace Athabasca Delta are reversing flow and debris is moving in unexpected directions depending on changing conditions. Lake Athabasca still has ice cover and drifting ice pans are moving downstream. These are dangerous, difficult conditions: even for experienced travellers in the delta.

Due to significant flooding and hazards posed by this debris and drifting breakup ice, Parks Canada strongly advises against boating in the Peace Athabasca Delta and the lower Athabasca and Slave River corridors (including the Rocher, Quatre Fourche and Coupe river channels).

Spring melt water in the river headwaters of the Canadian Rockies has not yet begun. Flow from the mountains in May and June will likely result in additional high water events. This will include the movement of tree trunks and additional woody debris. Anticipate hazards all summer long and avoid boating in low light conditions (dawn/dusk/night).

Any boaters using park waters should be self-sufficient and prepared for significant delays out on the land due to constantly changing conditions. Boaters should consider leaving a trip plan with friends and family and ensuring that the trip plan holder knows who to contact in the event of any problems.

Natural flooding events such as this are a normal and natural part of the ecological integrity of the Peace Athabasca Delta. Flooding such as this helps to recharge the delta’s ecosystems and deposits nutrient rich sediments that benefit plant and aquatic life.

Parks Canada continues to work closely with Indigenous, provincial and federal government agencies to monitor emergencies, breakup floods and to respond to public safety incidents as required.

Staying informed:

For more information, please call:

Tim Gauthier
Manager, External Relations
SWNWT Field Unit
Parks Canada
(867) 872-0107

Cam Zimmer
Superintendent
Wood Buffalo National Park
Parks Canada
(867) 872-0775