Canadians have always valued the vast green space that surrounds us. Our natural environment helps define who we are as Canadians and we are fortunate to have the most extensive network of protected areas in the world. As our environment is increasingly threatened by various factors such as climate change and development, there are little things that we can all do to make a difference.

So this year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we encourage you to plan to do something with family and friends that will help the environment while on vacation. Here are some suggestions of ways to do just that!

1. Participate in a BioBlitz Event

Parks Canada employees and visitors, young and old, take part in a Bioblitz on the beach in Gulf Island National Park.
Enjoy some hands-on experiences at a Parks Canada BioBlitz event!

Take part in a Parks Canada BioBlitz. You and your family team up with scientists to find as much wildlife as possible, in a short period of time. Spend time outside, discover wildlife and support the protection of Parks Canada’s special places.

Parks Canada will be hosting more BioBlitz events than ever in 2017 to contribute to the celebration of Canada 150 at various locations across the country.

2. An Endangered Experience – Salmon monitoring

Two visitors with packs on their backs hike along a rocky shore of a river in Fundy National Park.
Hike along the Upper Salmon River and monitor endangered salmon in Fundy National Park.

Take a hike on the Upper Salmon River Trail in Fundy National Park and keep your eyes peeled for the endangered inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon. Record it if you see one. This helps park biologists locate fish that have survived at sea and have returned to spawn.

3. Practice low impact camping - Leave no trace

A family of 4 sitting around a picnic table in Sidney Spit campground, next to a sandy beach with beautiful views in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Practice low impact camping while camping as a family.

You can minimize your impact on the environment when you take the family camping by following a few simple guidelines….such as setting up camp in designated campsites, using non-toxic toiletries, sunscreen and bug spray, choosing reusable vs. dispensable containers and dishes, staying on designated trails and building safe campfires to name just a few. You can share the space with wildlife but don’t disturb them or their habitat.

Take the time to research ways to minimize your impact before you leave and teach these important tips to your kids. These are tips they’re likely to remember for a very long time.

4. Participate in a clean-up activity

A young boy volunteer holding a pale on a dock.  Behind him are the waters of Saguenay-Saint-Laurent marine park and a team of volunteers and Parks Canada employees helping divers with the water clean up efforts.
Parks Canada team members and volunteers clean up at Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Every year, national parks and national marine conservation areas across the country organize volunteer shoreline, beach or dock clean-up activities along with their local communities in an effort to minimize the footprint visitors are having on our protected areas and to help clean up what is washed up on shore. Visit the volunteer pages of the website of the park or site you will be visiting this year to find out what dates have been set aside for these volunteer activities.

The before and after pictures are sure to make you proud.

5. Soar in Pukaskwa - Peregrine falcon monitoring

A visitor, in the front of a canoe, is stopped and looks through binoculaurs for peregrine falcon.  The water is calm and the scenery is beautiful.
A visitor scours the Pukaskwa coastline to find peregrine falcons and their nests.

Visit Pukaskwa’s coast by canoe, kayak or sailboat anytime between May 15 and July 15 and look for Peregrine Falcons! Your sightings can help us learn if breeding pairs have returned to old territories or are establishing new ones. For more information, ask the friendly park staff about the peregrine falcon citizen science monitoring program.

6. Leave only footprints, take only photos

Young girl using a camera.
Young visitor perfecting her photography skills in Pukaskwa National Park

Our great green spaces and National Parks are a treasure for us all to enjoy and hand on to the next generation. Make sure you adopt the practice of leaving that pristine wild nature exactly how you found it. Practice responsible hiking when you visit National Parks; stick to the trails, stay a safe distance from wildlife when photographing them and never leave anything behind or take anything with you.

7. Help your kids build a strong connection with nature

A Parks Canada guide along with parents and kids are looking at something up in a tree in a forested area in Rouge National Urban Park.
Get outside with the kids and enjoy one of Canada’s amazing protected areas.

Research has proven over and over again that getting outdoors and spending time in nature is good for all of us. It helps kids be healthier and happier and it can also encourage your kids to become protectors of green spaces and future stewards of our network of protected areas.

So get outside Canada and visit one of our National Parks in 2017 – Did you know we have 46 National Parks in Canada? The most extensive network of protected areas in the world. Now that’s something to be proud of.

8. Help restore an endangered ecosystem

Several volunteers kneeling down on the ground are busy planting various plants and trees.
Volunteer opportunities abound at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site.

If you have a green thumb or just love the outdoors, join us at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site and contribute to Parks Canada’s important work to restore the endangered Garry oak ecosystem. Pull invasive species, sow seeds, or pitch in thinning and planting bulbs grown in the site`s own nursery or learning meadow.

9. Get up close - Volunteer in Waterton Lakes National Park

Four volunteers kneeling down around a salamander byway with green garbage bags helping to clear and maintain this habitat protection structure.
Volunteers help clear a byway that directs migrating salamanders to the safety of tunnels passing under a road!

You can help out in a variety of ways by putting your counting or your hands to good use! Help out our scientists with their biological inventories, long-term monitoring and habitat restoration work – all while enjoying Waterton Lakes National Park.

Volunteer activities, including citizen science, take place in many of our National Parks. So, check out the website of the park you’ll be visiting this summer and get involved.