Table of contents

 

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, 2018.

Prince Albert National Park of Canada Management Plan

Issued also in French under the title:
Parc national du Canada de Prince Albert, plan directeur

PDF

  • R64-505/2018E-PDF
  • 978-0-660-09436-6

ISBN:

  • R64-505/2018E
  • 978-0-660-09437-3

For more information about the management plan or about Prince Albert National Park of Canada:

Mailing address:
Prince Albert National Park of Canada
Box 100
Waskesiu Lake, Saskatchewan
Canada
S0J 2Y0

Telephone:
306-663-4522


Foreword

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas belong to all Canadians and offer truly Canadian experiences.

These special places make up one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world.

The Government is committed to preserving our natural and cultural heritage, expanding the system of protected places and contributing to the recovery of species-at-risk. At the same time, we must continue to offer new and innovative visitor and outreach programs and activities so that more Canadians can experience Parks Canada places and learn about our environment, history and culture.

This new management plan for Prince Albert National Park of Canada supports this vision.

Management plans are developed through extensive consultation and input from various people and organizations, including Indigenous peoples, local and regional residents, visitors and the dedicated team at Parks Canada.

National parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are a priority for the Government of Canada. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this plan for their commitment and spirit of co-operation.

As the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, I applaud this collaborative effort and I am pleased to approve the Prince Albert National Park of Canada Management Plan.

Original signed by

Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Recommendations

Recommended and original signed by:

Daniel Watson
Chief Executive Officer
Parks Canada

David Britton
Field Unit Superintendent
Northern Prairies
Parks Canada

Executive Summary

Prince Albert National Park (PANP) is situated in central Saskatchewan on the southern edge of Canada’s boreal forest. It was established in 1927 and consists of a total area of 3,875 km2. The park protects an area of the Southern Boreal Plains and Plateaux natural region. Indigenous history dates back over 8,000 years in this area. Today, 13 First Nation or Metis communities have ties with the park.

The heritage townsite of Waskesiu is located on the shores of Waskesiu Lake. It is the primary recreational destination for most visitors to the park, and an access point to the lakes and wild backcountry of the park.

This management plan sets a vision for the future of PANP, with strategies and objectives aimed at reaching that vision. As such, this plan is the main guide for the management of PANP, and an important accountability document for Canadians as to how the park will be managed.

The plan was developed with Indigenous and public participation. Thirteen Indigenous communities with ties to the park were involved in setting direction in this plan and reviewing plan content. A draft plan was widely circulated to park stakeholders for comment, and was made available for public comment on the Internet. Public open houses were held in Waskesiu.

Five key strategies are identified in the plan to guide the work of managing the park for the foreseeable future. Key strategy 1 focuses on opportunities for greater involvement of Indigenous peoples in park management, and greater economic benefits for them. Key strategy 2 focuses on maintaining and improving the high quality visitor experience, particularly responding to the opportunities of changing demographics and new markets. Key strategy 3 focuses on long term protection of the ecological integrity of the park and its ecosystems. Key strategy 4 focuses on building awareness of the park and attracting new markets. Key strategy 5 focuses on providing a foundation for future detailed planning of Waskesiu townsite, ensuring that the unique national park townsite feel persists.

This management plan will be reviewed in ten years’ time, with Indigenous and public consultation.

1.0 Introduction

Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic places in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Future-oriented, strategic management of each national park, national marine conservation area, heritage canal and those national historic sites administered by Parks Canada supports the Agency’s vision:

Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.”

The Canada National Parks Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act require Parks Canada to prepare a management plan for each national park. The Prince Albert National Park management plan, once approved by the Minister responsible for Parks Canada and tabled in Parliament, ensures Parks Canada’s accountability to Canadians, outlining how park management will achieve measurable results in support of the Agency’s mandate.

Indigenous peoples and the Canadian public will be involved in the development of the management plan, helping to shape the future direction of the national park. The plan sets clear, strategic direction for the management and operation of Prince Albert National Park by articulating a vision, key strategies and objectives. For the most part, specific actions to achieve key strategies and objectives are determined outside of this management plan. Parks Canada will report annually on progress toward achieving the plan objectives and will review the plan every ten years or sooner if required.

This plan is not an end in and of itself. Parks Canada will maintain an open dialogue on the implementation of the management plan, to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful. The plan will serve as the focus for ongoing engagement on the management of Prince Albert National Park in years to come.

2.0 Significance of Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park is situated in central Saskatchewan on the southern edge of Canada’s boreal forest. It was established in 1927 and consists of a total area of 3,875 km2. Typical of its era, the park was created to serve as a recreational playground. During the economic depression of the 1930s, relief camps operated in the park, completing many of the park's historic facilities and roads and trails.

The park is in a transition zone from the Great Plains to aspen parkland to mixed wood boreal forest, representing the Southern Boreal Plains and Plateaux natural region. A network of lakes and rivers which originate in the park is considered a high-quality ecosystem. Eskers, drumlins, glacial lakes, moraines, meltwater channels and other glacial features mark the land.

A rich Indigenous history in the area dates back over 8,000 years. The ancestors of the present day Cree are believed to have moved into the park area when the last of the glaciers retreated. According to oral history, the Rocky or Woods Cree used the area’s waterways as travel routes for many decades before settling near the park during the mid-19th century. The Cree moved seasonally; they fished, hunted, and gathered food communally throughout the summer and broke into small hunting parties in the fall and winter. Today, 13 First Nation or Metis communities have ties with the park.

Map 1: Regional Setting

Prince Albert Park regional setting

The park is rich in wildlife. Elk, moose and deer browse in the trembling aspen forests; black bears, wolves and a small number of woodland caribou roam the forests of jack pine, larch and balsam fir; pocket gophers and a herd of free-roaming bison inhabit the sedge meadows and fescue grasslands.

Over 230 bird species have been recorded. A white pelican nesting colony in the northwestern corner of the park is the second largest colony of this sensitive bird in Canada. Park waterways harbour high populations of beavers. Grey Owl, the noted conservationist of the 1930s, brought international attention to Prince Albert National Park, writing extensively about park beavers and the need for wildlife protection. His cabin and grave in the park are popular hiking destinations for visitors.

Prince Albert National Park is often called “Saskatchewan’s playground”. Waskesiu is the commercial and recreational hub for park visitors. The townsite consists of commercial accommodations, retail stores, dining and grocery operations, and 570 private cabins and cottages. Census data from 2011 shows the permanent population of Waskesiu at 66, but on any given day during the peak visitation period (July and August) the townsite hosts several thousand people.

Also within the park are five vehicle accessible campgrounds and an extensive network of backcountry camping areas, complemented by a 120 km trail network. A trail network in the Sturgeon River area along the park’s south-western boundary offers visitor access to fescue meadows and the Sturgeon River plains bison herd. Of the many freshwater lakes within the park, motorized access is allowed in five.

Map 2: Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park

3.0 Planning Context

Indigenous peoples:

Thirteen Indigenous communities have ties with Prince Albert National Park. The majority of these communities are signatories under Treaty 6. Prince Albert National Park is strengthening on-going working relationships with Indigenous peoples and striving to integrate Indigenous perspectives and voices throughout the management of the park. Prince Albert National Park continues to engage Indigenous partners on projects, such as the redevelopment of the Prince Albert National Park Nature Centre, the management of the Sturgeon River plains bison herd and the use of the Paspiwin Cultural Heritage Site.

Tourism:

Prince Albert National Park is a major tourism destination in central Saskatchewan. The park offers a wide variety recreational opportunities and located within the park, the townsite of Waskesiu serves as a commercial and recreational hub for park visitors. The park has a high percentage of repeat visitors, primarily originating from Saskatchewan urban centres. The park works in collaboration to promote regional tourism with the Waskesiu Wilderness Region Destination Marketing Organization and Tourism Saskatchewan. Prince Albert National Park is also collaborating with Saskatchewan Provincial Parks and the new Great Blue Heron Provincial Park adjacent to the park’s southwest boundary, to create four season, cross-boundary visitor experiences.

Grasslands improvement:

There is a need to improve the state of and condition of grasslands within the park. A large-scale restoration program began in 2009, utilising prescribed fire, borrow pit restoration, and invasive plant control methods to restore grasslands. This program has improved the ecological indicator rating from poor to fair. A continued focus on monitoring and restoration activities is needed to continue to improve grassland health.

Bison management:

The Sturgeon River Plains Bison herd is a free-roaming, wild bison herd located on the southwest side of Prince Albert National Park. The herd is cooperatively managed among Prince Albert National Park, the Province of Saskatchewan, the Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards, and local Indigenous groups through the cooperative “Sturgeon River Plains Bison Management Plan” (2013). The sustainability of the bison herd is a concern. The herd will continue to be monitored and actively managed through the guidance of the plan.

Waskesiu management:

The management and development of the townsite are guided by the “Prince Albert National Park of Canada Community Plan” (2015). The plan was developed in cooperation with the Waskesiu Community Council, which is a democratically elected body of community representatives which advises Parks Canada on townsite management. In 2017, the Council produced “Waskesiu Townsite Vision 2020 and Beyond Community Action Plan”, with the support of Parks Canada. The action plan complements the community plan, providing greater detail and time lines for eight townsite management topics.

State of the park assessment:

The “Prince Albert National Park State of the Park Assessment” (2016) identified four key issues: 1) state and condition of the grassland, with reference to two priorities: the need to maintain restoration efforts through the use of prescribed fire, and the need to improve the health of the bison herd; 2) Indigenous engagement, with reference to two priorities: the need to identify barriers, and to increase the focus on engagement; 3) a sustainable visitor offer with reference to three priorities: respond to changing market demands and needs, address the issue of accommodation availability, and improve visitor enjoyment; and 4) the Anglin Lake dam, with reference to the need to address administration of the dam with the Province of Saskatchewan.

4.0 Vision

The vision presented below expresses the future desired state of Prince Albert National Park in 15 years. The key elements came from the vision in the 2008 management plan, and from input from Indigenous partners and stakeholders.

Prince Albert National Park is a place of serene wilderness, unbroken forests, clear fresh lakes, and a premier four season destination for adventure and relaxation. The park hosts a healthy and functioning southern boreal ecosystem, merging with the open grasslands of the aspen parkland along its southern borders.

This protected habitat supports a unique collection of plants and animals, including an abundance of deer, moose, elk, and a majestic herd of wild plains bison. The waterways and lakes teem with beavers, otters, and an abundance of walleye, pike, and lake trout. The land is also marked with the evidence of a rich cultural history.

Prince Albert National Park has become a centre of celebrating past and living Indigenous cultures, and sharing information among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are actively involved in park management decisions, through consultation, participation, and employment. They continue to connect to their traditional uses in the park. Collaborative work between Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples is evidenced by the celebration and presentation of the rich Indigenous history. Indigenous culture is highly valued in the visitor experience. Related tourism economically benefits Indigenous peoples.

The park is committed to restore and maintain a functional and healthy plains rough fescue grassland ecosystem through an active restoration program. The creative use of prescribed fire, invasive plant control, and restoration of disturbed areas continues to increase the grassland area and improves vital habitat for prairies species such as the plains bison. Cooperative approaches to bison management have targeted a sustained and healthy local bison population, and have engaged local wildlife managers, including Indigenous communities. Among other benefits, this has created excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

The townsite of Waskesiu, the main destination for all types of visitors, maintains its unique rustic resort town charm that visitors have enjoyed for generations. The townsite continues to present a wide variety of activities and accommodation available year round for visitors, and is a jumping off point for backcountry adventurers. The park programs, events and festivals are open to all visitors. There is active participation of local and regional residents, Indigenous communities, tourism partners and local stakeholders.

5.0 Key Strategies

Key strategy 1:

Indigenous Peoples - Reconnecting With the Past, Building a Future in the Park

In the spirit of reconciliation, Parks Canada will work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to strengthen their connections to traditional lands and waters, to expand presentation of Indigenous cultures and histories by Indigenous peoples, and increase economic opportunities in Indigenous tourism and other business ventures where possible.

Objective 1.1

Opportunities for greater Indigenous involvement in the park workforce are implemented and contracting and other economic benefits are identified.

Targets:

  • Indigenous peoples are well-represented at a variety of levels within the Prince Albert National Park workforce, including new and innovative positions that value traditional ways of knowing and caring for the land.
  • Through collaborative work with Indigenous communities, contracting opportunities and capacity are identified.
  • Innovative programs aimed at facilitating park careers for youth and adults are in place and are successfully recruiting Indigenous persons into the park work force. They include, at a minimum, active recruitment in local Indigenous communities, and training. Ways of increasing employment and retention will also be identified and implemented.
  • Indigenous tourism, contracting and other business ventures are increasingly providing economic benefits to Indigenous peoples.

Objective 1.2

Indigenous traditional knowledge is used where possible in understanding the park, and in decision-making.

Targets:

  • Indigenous traditional knowledge is actively applied through collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
  • Indigenous traditional knowledge is incorporated into research design and the ecological integrity monitoring plan.

Objective 1.3

A solid foundation is in place for ongoing, productive collaborative work with Indigenous peoples.

Targets:

  • Frequent and effective communication and engagement between Parks Canada and Indigenous communities result in increased collaboration on a range of topics, and increased sharing and presentation of history and culture.
  • At least one Parks Canada-Indigenous forum is held annually to discuss matters of mutual interest.
  • Collaborative initiatives to increase participation of Indigenous communities with Parks Canada are in place.
  • The Paspiwin site continues to serve as a place where Indigenous peoples connect with their traditional lands and waters.
  • Parks Canada will engage Indigenous communities to develop an implementation plan that identifies and guides actions for achieving the objectives under Key Strategy 1.

Objective 1.4

Prince Albert National Park, through its work with Indigenous groups, is a leader of celebrating past and living cultures, and sharing information among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, enabling visitors to connect with the local history and culture.

Targets:

  • Hands-on, authentic Indigenous interpretive experiences are contributing to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
  • Youth of all cultures learn from Indigenous Elders about park ecosystems, traditional culture, and land survival skills.
  • The park, Indigenous partners and community partners are engaged in the creation of new visitor products focused on Indigenous culture.
  • An annual review of collaborative and park Indigenous programs related to visitor experience takes place to ensure relevance and accuracy.

Key strategy 2:

Great Experiences for a Wide Range of People.

A wide range of visitors enjoy meaningful experiences and value during their trip to Prince Albert National Park, during all four seasons. Visitor markets are increasingly diverse in their interests and needs, and Parks Canada must continue to respond to new trends. Doing so will help identify new products that are engaging and relevant, and ensure a full suite of quality programs and services that satisfy visitor expectations. Services and facilities will be sustainable and scaled to seasonal demand levels. Strategic priorities are increasing overall visitor enjoyment levels, the diversity of experiences and programs, and the availability of Parks Canada accommodations (oTENTiks and campgrounds). New investments will be made in park facilities and trails. The renewal of non-personal learning opportunities, and incorporating new technologies are also important parts of this strategy.

Objective 2.1

Visitors enjoy a wide range of experiences, from the frontcountry townsite experience, to serviced campgrounds, to the wilderness of the backcountry.

Targets:

  • Visitors rate their satisfaction of their overall visit at a minimum of 90%.
  • At least 90% of visitors enjoy their visit.
  • At least 85% of visitors consider the park meaningful to them.
  • The number of visitors who consider they learned about the natural heritage shows an increasing trend.

Objective 2.2

Facilities are recapitalized to respond to trends and evolving visitor demands and interests.

Targets:

  • The park’s camping and hiking offer is upgraded to meet visitor needs and interest.
  • At least 80% of camping visitors are satisfied with their camping experience.
  • Parks Canada frequently meets with partners to identify areas of investment within the townsite and throughout the park that enhance the current visitor offer.
  • Infrastructure upgrades are able to be maintained and recapitalized on a financially sustainable basis.

Key strategy 3:

Managing for Healthy Forests, Lakes and Grasslands

Canadians take pride in knowing that Prince Albert National Park contains healthy, functioning ecosystems, including cultural resources that are valued and protected. Partnerships are nurtured, providing meaningful information that feeds into the park’s management programs. Indigenous peoples, partners, stakeholders and visitors are involved in managing for the integrity of park ecosystems. The healthy landscapes are evident to visitors who enjoy the natural themes of the front country, and seek out the “wild wow” of the backcountry wilderness. Prince Albert National Park will continue to be a leader in use of prescribed burns in restoring grasslands.

Objective 3.1

The population level of the Sturgeon River bison herd is healthy and sustained.

Targets:

  • The population is within the range of 320 to 430 adult bison.
  • The herd has a calf/cow ratio that falls within the range of 28-38 calves/100 cows.
  • Park staff work collaboratively with affected landowners, Indigenous peoples and other managers in implementing the bison management plan.

Objective 3.2

Grasslands are healthy.

Targets:

  • The Grasslands indicator for state of the park reporting has moved from “fair” to “good” as determined in the next state of the park assessment.
  • The area of grasslands has increased in ten years’ time by 5%.
  • The area of aspen parkland burned in ten years’ time is 5,000 ha (50% of a 40-year natural fire cycle).
  • Indigenous peoples are involved in monitoring, active restoration, and decision making.

Objective 3.3

Forests are healthy.

Targets:

  • The area of boreal forest burnt in 10 years is 8,900 ha (30% of a 100-year fire cycle).
  • The forest bird diversity and abundance is maintained within +/-30% of the 2005 baseline.

Objective 3.4

Aquatic systems are healthy.

Targets:

  • The lake water quality index measures for Kingsmere and Waskesiu Lakes are maintained at a “good” level as determined in the next state of the park assessment.
  • The Kingsmere Lake trout population remains within 30% of the 2009 baseline.

Objective 3.5

Knowledge of the cultural and historical resources of Prince Albert National Park increases, and management of these resources improves as a result.

Targets:

  • The historic value and cultural affiliation of cultural resources are determined through strategic, prioritized research.
  • Collaboration takes place with Indigenous knowledge holders and youth to collect place names, stories about the resources within the park, and to identify appropriate management practices for cultural resources and landscapes.
  • A cultural resource management strategy for evaluating and monitoring cultural resources is developed.
  • Buildings that are recognized by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office (FHBRO) are maintained in good condition.

Key strategy 4:

Outreach, Promotion and Connection

Canadians build connections to Prince Albert National Park largely as a result of a comprehensive approach to communication, outreach, promotion and marketing endeavours. Awareness of the park increases. Many are spurred to visit this unique tourism destination and create their own meaningful connections by enjoying time with family and friends, exploring the accessible wilderness, and volunteering through a range of stewardship endeavours.

Objective 4.1

Canadians’ awareness of the park and its experiences increases.

Targets:

  • Parks Canada implements a strategic communication strategy with a focus on Saskatchewan’s census metropolitan areas and neighbouring communities.
  • The number of meaningful contacts shows an increasing trend based on a 2016 baseline.
  • Local and national media outlets feature stories and information about the park.
  • Social media and/or new media opportunities that connect with Saskatchewan residents and other audiences regularly feature park content.
  • Prince Albert National Park webpage hits increase by 10% of current levels within the next five years.
  • Prince Albert National Park maintains consistent profiles in external print and broadcast media over the next five years.
  • Prince Albert National Park outreach staff are engaging community organizations and are present at public events in Saskatoon, Regina and neighbouring communities.

Objective 4.2

Canadians are inspired to visit Prince Albert National Park through targeted marketing and by providing engaging visitor opportunities.

Targets:

  • Visitation increases by 10% increase within ten years.
  • The park and tourism organizations implement strategic marketing plans.

Objective 4.3

Stewardship projects with partners, stakeholders and visitors increases.

Targets:

  • Volunteer opportunities are created in support of park and community partner endeavours, and volunteer hours increase by 3% annually.
  • Stewardship efforts that support the restoration of fescue grasslands are in place.
  • Stewardship and collaborative efforts that support a year-round network of trails that meet visitor needs and interests are explored and implemented.

Key strategy 5:

Waskesiu Townsite, the Hub of Prince Albert National Park

Long before the creation of Prince Albert National Park, Waskesiu was a gathering place. Today, Waskesiu is the hub of the park and a highlight for most visitors. To many, Waskesiu is a wondrous place. Memories of warm summers growing up, the beauty of the lake resort setting, days spent on the beach – these and more contribute to the unique national park townsite feel. Waskesiu is managed with visitor experience and conservation as the primary focus, similar to the six other townsites in the national park system. The Waskesiu Community Council continues to be a valued advisory board, representing stakeholder groups in the Waskesiu townsite. The “Prince Albert National Park of Canada Waskesiu Community Plan” (2015) and “Waskesiu Townsite Vision 2020 and Beyond Community Action Plan” (2017) continue to guide decision making for Waskesiu. In addition to the principles set out in these two documents, one new principle, “healthy and accessible facilities,” is a priority.

Objective 5.1

Pedestrians circulate freely in Waskesiu.

Targets:

  • Signs and marked sidewalks that promote pedestrian traffic are in place.
  • Main streets and most side streets have barrier-free and clear paths of travel.

Objective 5.2

The ideas and guidance from key stakeholders informs decision making and improves the management of Waskesiu townsite.

Targets:

  • Parks Canada meets regularly with key stakeholders, such as the Waskesiu Community Council, collaborating and gathering input into the management of Waskesiu.
  • The priorities identified in the “Waskesiu Vision 2020 and Beyond” are implemented, as appropriate, in partnership with community stakeholders as resources are available.

6.0 Zoning

Parks Canada’s national park zoning system is an integrated approach to the classification of land and water areas, and designates where particular activities can occur on land or water based on the ability to support those uses. The zoning system has five categories, all five of which are applied in Prince Albert National Park.

Zone I - Special Preservation

Specific areas or features that contain or support unique, threatened or endangered natural or cultural features, or are among the best examples of the features that represent a natural region. Preservation is the key consideration. Motorized access and circulation will not be permitted.

The Lavallée Lake Pelican Colony is the only Zone I area in the park. The objective is to protect the nesting and feeding areas of one of the largest white pelican colonies in Canada. The extent of the zone is based on the need to include watercourses where breeding pelicans feed and rest. This area is closed to all human use from April through September. Essential scientific research is permitted under carefully controlled conditions.

Zone II – Wilderness

Areas that are a good representation of a natural region and that will be conserved in a wilderness state. The perpetuation of ecosystems with minimal human interference is encouraged. Opportunities for outdoor recreation activities will be encouraged only when they do not conflict with maintaining the wilderness itself. Motorized access and circulation will not be permitted.

The vast majority of the park will be zone II, in keeping with Parks Canada policy.

Zone III – Natural Environment

Areas that are managed as natural environments and provide opportunities for visitors to experience a park’s natural and cultural heritage values through outdoor recreation activities requiring minimal services and facilities of a rustic nature. Motorized access, where allowed, is controlled.

The following areas are included in Zone III:

  • the surface area of Kingsmere, Crean, Sandy and Heart lakes
  • established campground and day-use areas on Waskesiu, Kingsmere, and Crean lakes
  • the Kingsmere River between the Kingsmere Road boat launch and the rail portage and from the north end of the rail portage to Kingsmere Lake
  • the Height of Land interpretive exhibit and access road
  • the Spruce River interpretive exhibit and access trail
  • proposed day-use nodes
  • Beartrap, Camp 10, and Camp 18 gravel pits and access roads
  • the West Side Trail between Sturgeon Crossing and Sturgeon Lookout

New additions to Zone III

These changes are being made to better reflect the contemporary use of these areas:

  • former warden cabins: Kingsmere, Rabbit, Tabiska, Wassegam, Lavallée, and Wabeno (formerly Zone II)
  • Narrows Bypass (formerly Zone II)
  • Aglin Lake Dam (formerly Zone II)
  • Trappers Lake access road and campground (formerly Zone IV)
Zone IV – Outdoor Recreation

Areas capable of accommodating a broad range of opportunities for understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the park’s heritage values and related essential services and facilities, in ways that impact the ecological integrity of the park to the smallest extent possible. Direct access by motorized vehicles is allowed.

The following areas are included in Zone IV:

  • front country campgrounds, picnic sites, viewpoints, parking lots for major trails, roadside developments, and a 15-metre right-of-way on each side of the centre line of all public roads
  • Waskesiu Lake and all adjacent day-use and picnic areas
  • Waskesiu Marina
  • Waskesiu overflow campground and access
  • Narrows campground, marina, and day-use area
  • Campgrounds, day-use areas, and access roads at Namekus and Sandy Lakes
  • Heart Lakes access, parking lot, and marina
  • Elaine Lake Road right-of-way
  • Sturgeon River road from Sturgeon Crossing to the park facilities at Sturgeon River
Zone V – Park Services

Communities in national parks that contain a concentration of visitor services and support facilities. Major park operation and administrative functions may also be accommodated in this zone.

The community of Waskesiu is the only Zone V area in the park.

Designated Wilderness by Regulation

The Canada National Parks Act provides for the designation of portions of a national park as regulated wilderness. Only activities that are unlikely to impair the wilderness character of the area may be authorized within the designated wilderness area of a park. Designated wilderness is different than zoned wilderness because it is enforceable through regulation.

Prince Albert National Park will not pursue designated wilderness through regulation at this time.

Map 3: Prince Albert National Park Zoning

Prince Albert National Park zoning

7.0 Summary of Strategic Environmental Assessment

In accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all management statements. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making. Individual projects undertaken to implement management statement objectives at the site will be evaluated to determine if an impact assessment is required under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, or successor legislation.

The scope of the assessment included the area within the boundary of Prince Albert National Park and considered influences from potential external local and regional stressors outside of the park. The time frame considered in the assessment was ten years from the date of the plan, at which time the plan will be reviewed. Environmental components of note at this site include grasslands, plains bison, forest vegetation, water quality, wildlife, fish, cultural resources and components of the environment important to visitor experience.

Implementation of the plan, in conjunction with the recommendations from the SEA, are anticipated to result in various positive effects. Understanding and management of natural and cultural resources will benefit from increasingly collaborative relationships with local and regional stakeholders and Indigenous groups and integration of traditional knowledge. Ecological integrity of grasslands, forests, and aquatic resources are expected to be maintained and improved through implementation of the ecological integrity monitoring program. Continued leadership of Prince Albert National Park in the use of prescribed fire to restore ecological integrity is anticipated to improve grassland and forest ecosystems and contribute to the collaborative efforts to maintain a sustainable plains bison population in the Sturgeon River region.

Several objectives identified in the management plan have the potential to result in negative environmental effects. Objectives that promote new infrastructure and facility development, particularly of trails, campgrounds, and visitor facilities, could decrease grassland and forest cover, increase fragmentation, facilitate invasive species spread, contribute to added greenhouse gas and air emissions, and increase sewage effluent and surface water quality impacts. These impacts have the potential to cumulatively stress grassland, forest, air and water quality components in combination with anticipated increases in visitation. Increased visitation also has the potential to increase fishing pressure and the potential for human-wildlife conflict.

The anticipated effects from these objectives are anticipated to be largely mitigated by the strategies and objectives proposed in the management plan, existing ecological monitoring and visitor engagement and education along with law enforcement programs. In particular, the adoption of environmental management targets and thresholds within the plan and development of strategic sub-plans, such as a trails plan that minimizes potential impacts and considers cumulative effects, will help to mitigate potential cumulative impacts on valued components. In addition to the recommendations in the SEA, existing policies such as park zoning, research and commercial permits, and project-level impact assessment will provide additional mitigation where required.

Public and Indigenous engagement was conducted on the plan and a draft of this SEA from late 2016 through to summer 2017. Concerns from the public, Indigenous groups, and stakeholders were incorporated into the plan as appropriate.

The plan supports the Federal Sustainable Development Strategies of Protecting Nature and Canadians. There are no important negative environmental effects anticipated from implementation of the Prince Albert National Park Management Plan (2018).