PROUDLY BRINGING YOU CANADA AT ITS BEST. Management Planning Program NEWSLETTER #1 OCTOBER, 2000

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1 PROUDLY BRINGING YOU CANADA AT ITS BEST VUNTUT NATIONAL PARK Management Planning Program NEWSLETTER #1 OCTOBER, 2000 INTRODUCTION This newsletter launches the development of the first management plan for Vuntut National Park. The national park was established in 1995 under Chapter 10 of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement (VGFNFA). Interim Management Guidelines were approved in April, 2000 and provide management direction until a Management Plan is approved. Parks Canada, the North Yukon Renewable Resources Council (NYRRC) and the Vuntut Gwitchin government work cooperatively to manage the park. All three parties are represented on the planning team. The Management Plan will provide long term strategic direction for the management of the park to ensure ecological integrity and continued Vuntut Gwitchin traditional opportunities on the land. The Management Plan is required by legislation, guided by public consultation, developed by a planning team of cooperative managers, approved by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and tabled in Parliament. Once approved, the Management Plan will be reviewed every five years. This is your opportunity to assist in defining and achieving a future vision for Vuntut National Park.

2 Public Participation Public input is a key element of the planning process. During the development of the Management Plan, newsletters and Public Open Houses will be the main methods used to share information. Meetings with stakeholders will also provide valuable input into the process. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Old Crow Inuvik Vuntut The Planning Team members want to hear from you. The first management plan developed for a national park is critical as it will shape the future of the park. The chart on the adjacent page outlines the major stages in the development of the Management Plan and the key times for public input. Anchorage Dawson City Whitehorse Several different planning process are currently underway or about to begin in the Vuntut Gwitchin traditional territory. These include: Old Crow Flats Special Management Area Management Plan; Fish and Wildlife Management Plan; Fishing Branch Ecological Reserve and HPA Management Plan; Tourism Planning and Land Use Planning. Efforts will be made to coordinate public involvement, especially in the community of Old Crow, as much as possible. Vuntut National Park Planning Process Management Plan Key Public Input Development OTHER INPUT Other important sources of information and guidance for the development of the Management Plan will be an Elders workshop in Old Crow, the Oral History project underway in the Vuntut Gwitchin traditional territory and the Resource Description and Analysis of the park which is nearing completion. Draft Vision Identify Key Issues (July-September 2000) Draft Options/Recommendations (November 2000-February2001) Draft Management Plan (May-August 2001) Final Plan Recommendation (Winter 2001/2002) October - November 2000 Open Houses February- April 2001 Open Houses October- November 2001 E E E WE ARE HERE public and government review and feedback public and government review and feedback public and government review and feedback u Minister of Canadian Heritage for Approval 2 Vuntut National Park Management Planning Program

3 Park Purpose and Objectives The Interim Management Guidelines (IMGs) for the park provide the following purpose for Vuntut National Park: to protect for all time a representative natural area of Canadian significance in the Northern Yukon Natural Region and to encourage public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the area so as to leave it unimpaired for future generations; and to recognize Vuntut Gwitchin history and culture and recognize and protect the traditional and current uses of the park by the Vuntut Gwitchin. This purpose will be reviewed and confirmed during the development of the Management Plan. The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement outlines the following objectives for the park: to recognize Vuntut Gwitchin history and culture, and the rights provided for in Chapter 10, Schedule A of the VGFNFA, in the establishment and operation of the park; to recognize and protect the traditional and current use of the park by Vuntut Gwitchin in the development and management of the park; to protect for all time a representative natural area of national significance in the Northern Yukon Natural Region, including representative portions of the Old Crow Flats wetlands and the surrounding foothills which contain important waterfowl habitat, critical parts of the Porcupine Caribou range, and archaeological and paleontological resources of international significance; to encourage public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the park in a manner which leaves it unimpaired for future generations; to provide economic and employment opportunities and participation for Vuntut Gwitchin in the development, operation and management of the park; to recognize that oral history is a valid and relevant form of research for establishing the historical significance of the heritage sites and moveable heritage resources in the park directly related to the history of the Vuntut Gwitchin; and to recognize the interest of Vuntut Gwitchin in the interpretation of aboriginal place names and heritage resources in the park directly related to the culture of the Vuntut Gwitchin. Newsletter #1 October

4 Park Vision A vision statement for the park was developed as part of the Interim Management Guidelines. A shared vision helps focus planning, management and operation of the park and will facilitate closer cooperation and working relationships among those who care for and use the area. Does the following statement reflect your vision for the future of Vuntut National Park? In years, Vuntut National Park will be: a protected area where Old Crow Flats show a high degree of ecosystem health, as demonstrated by abundant waterfowl, migratory moose populations and normally fluctuating muskrat populations; a protected area where wildlife populations such as the Porcupine Caribou Herd vary naturally and wildlife movement patterns continue unhindered; a protected area with the same high level of ecological integrity that it has today, where natural processes govern change; a protected area which is recognized for the paleontological resources of international significance found there; a protected area where traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge are given full and fair consideration in the protection, management and operation of the park; research and monitoring are ongoing; and the results are used to alert park managers to environmental changes (whether caused locally or globally), leading to appropriate actions; a protected area which is managed cooperatively and effectively with the Vuntut Gwitchin, and the management of which is regionally integrated with Old Crow Flats Special Management Area, Ivvavik National Park, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Vuntut Gwitchin Settlement Lands, as well as the chain of protected areas across northern Yukon and northern Alaska; a protected area where the Vuntut Gwitchin continue a subsistence lifestyle and maintain a spiritual connection to the land, and where Vuntut Gwitchin Elders and teachers are on the land, educating the youth so that respectful stewardship of the land will continue; a protected area where cultural resources are documented and interpreted through oral history and research, and where those resources are appropriately managed and their meanings understood and shared; a protected area where visitors are welcomed by park staff and the Vuntut Gwitchin, and opportunities are provided to learn about the land, the people and Vuntut Gwitchin culture. The health of the land, wildlife and the Gwitchin lifestyle have priority over visitor opportunities; a protected area where, through outreach, the Vuntut Gwitchin can, as they feel appropriate, share their wealth of knowledge of the land and their culture with Canadians and international audiences; a protected area where the community of Old Crow is the focus for community-based tourism and is a place where visitors can learn about and experience Vuntut Gwitchin culture and history and the area s natural and cultural resources; and a protected area where the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement related to Vuntut National Park is being implemented, bringing continued economic benefits to the Vuntut Gwitchin. 4 Vuntut National Park Management Planning Program

5 Park Resources and Current Use Regional Setting Vuntut National Park (4,345 km²) is located in the northwestern corner of the Yukon Territory, immediately south of Ivvavik National Park and east of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The Old Crow Flats Area (12,116 km²), designated a Special Management Area (SMA) in the VGFNFA, is comprised of Vuntut National Park, Vuntut Gwitchin FN Settlement Land and additional land east and west of the Settlement Land Blocks (see map on back, page 8). The area which makes up Vuntut National Park is part of the traditional territory of the Vuntut Gwitchin. The Vuntut Gwitchin are centered in the community of Old Crow, population 300, located 60 km south of the park. Whitehorse, the closest major centre, is 840 km to the south of Old Crow. Vuntut National Park is over 200 km from the closest highway (Dempster Highway), adding to the park s remoteness. Visitors can access the park by chartered aircraft, boat, on ski or on foot. Park Features and Resources The park includes a portion of the Old Crow Flats as well as the foothills and some peaks of the British Mountains. Prominent features found within the park and important associations with the park are: a portion of the Old Crow Flats, the most significant wetlands in the Yukon (designated as having world importance by the Ramsar Convention, an international convention on wetland conservation); portions of the Porcupine Caribou Herd s spring and fall migration range; the ongoing interdependence of the Vuntut Gwitchin and the land; caribou fences and significant archaeological sites; internationally significant paleontological sites along the Old Crow River; and the significance of the area as a post-beringian landscape. Current Uses The Vuntut Gwitchin have occupied and had a relationship with the park area for centuries, a relationship which continues today. They have depended on the area and its resources to provide a subsistence lifestyle. Some of the traditional uses of the park include hunting, trapping, fishing and berry-picking. While some of the harvest methods may have changed, the attachment to the land remains the same. To date, only a handful of visitors have been to the park, due in part to its remote location. The visitors that Vuntut National Park attracts are wilderness travellers who are usually self-sufficient and skilled in backcountry travel. Important research has been conducted in the area over the past decades. Recent research in the park includes: archaeology work, vegetation studies, bear studies, the Oral History project and the Resource Description and Analysis. Newsletter #1 October

6 Management Plan Issues It is critical at this stage of the planning process to identify specific issues and topics which should be addressed during the management planning process. The Planning Team has drafted an initial list of issues and topics based primarily on the park purpose and objectives and the Interim Management Guidelines. Please review the list below and provide any additions or comments to the Planning Team. Ecological Integrity Parks Canada s Guiding Principles and Operational Policies state that: protecting ecological integrity takes precedence in acquiring, managing administering heritage places and programs. In every application of policy, this guiding principle is paramount. What strategies are needed to ensure the ongoing ecological integrity of the park? What existing monitoring programs should the park participate in and what new monitoring programs should be established to ensure ecological integrity? Regional integration is a key component of ecosystem management how can this be achieved? Vuntut National Park is dedicated to fostering awareness of Vuntut Gwitchin traditional knowledge, history and culture, and to protecting the traditional, current and evolving uses of the park area by the Vuntut Gwitchin. How can this be achieved? Concerns have been raised about changes in water levels and changes in wildlife populations in Old Crow Flats. How can these concerns be addressed? How can the park contribute to the long-term health of the Porcupine Caribou Herd? What future research is required related to ecological integrity? Cultural Resources How should significant cultural resources such as the caribou fences be managed? How should significant paleontological resources such as vertebrate fossils be managed? What inventory work and research is required related to cultural resources? Heritage Presentation Who are the park s key audiences for interpretation and outreach? What key park messages should be delivered? How should they be delivered? What role will the Visitor Centre, described in the land claim, play in heritage presentation? Due to the physical isolation of the park, how can outreach play a major role in delivering park messages? Traditional Activities Traditional and current subsistence activities by Vuntut Gwitchin are recognized and protected within the park. What are the roles and responsibilities of the North Yukon RRC, Vuntut Gwitchin government and Parks Canada, related to these activities? 6 Vuntut National Park Management Planning Program

7 Tourism What role should the park play in relation to Yukon and regional tourism? Appropriate Visitor Activities and Access Determining which visitor activities are appropriate in the park, at what level and under what conditions will be a major area of discussion. This includes both non-commercial and commercial activities. These decisions are important in determining what supporting services and/or facilities may or may not be required in the long term. Visitor activities will be managed so as not to conflict with Vuntut Gwitchin traditional activities. What activities are appropriate in the park? What activities are not appropriate? Should any accommodation for visitors be considered? Should a quota be established for commercial operators? If there is potential for visitor overlap with Ivvavik National Park, how might this be managed? Is recreational snowmobiling appropriate, guided or unguided? Questions about access are also very important: What is needed related to air access guidelines? Should any aircraft landing sites be designated? What sort of motorized access, if any, is appropriate? Visitor Services and Facilities What visitor use strategies are required? How will public safety and law enforcement be addressed? What park user fees should be considered? Is there a need for any temporary or permanent infrastructure in the park for park operations? Firearms Current regulations prohibit commercial guides, including Aboriginal people, from carrying firearms in national parks. In the VGFNFA, one of the objectives for Vuntut National Park is to provide economic and employment opportunities and participation for Vuntut Gwitchin in developing, operating and managing the park. Parks Canada, the Vuntut Gwitchin and the NYRRC recognize that the firearm prohibition may be seen to compromise Vuntut Gwitchin s ability to pursue economic opportunities in the park as commercial guides. Work will be done to resolve this issue during the development of the management plan. Park Zoning What park zoning should be established for the park? Is Wilderness Declaration appropriate for the park? If so, what areas? Newsletter #1 October

8 Wilderness Area Declaration o o o The 1988 amendments to the National Parks Act provide for the designation, by regulation, of wilderness areas within a national park. The purpose of this is to provide legislative protection to these areas to ensure ecological integrity. It is intended that wilderness area boundaries generally be consistent with Zone II and Zone I area boundaries. The regulatory process for designating wilderness areas is a Cabinet approved Order-in-Council. When designation comes into effect it prohibits authorization of any activity that is likely to impair the wilderness character or ecological integrity of the designated wilderness area.the only activities allowed would be those required for: park administration; public safety; the provision of basic user facilities including trails and rudimentary campsites; the carrying on of traditional subsistence activities; and in exceptional circumstances, access by air to remote parts of such areas. Changes to the boundary of a designated wilderness area would have to be preceded by public consultation and a Cabinet approved Order-in-Council. Anticipated benefits of wilderness area declaration include: greater clarity and specificity to wilderness and Zone II areas; greater assurance of long term protection; and the prohibition of any activity that is likely to impair its wilderness character. Wilderness area declaration for the areas of the park which the Management Plan determines as Zone I and II will be considered and advanced during the management planning process. Upcoming Open Houses October 24 th 1:30-4pm Open House Community Centre Old Crow October 25 th 7-9pm Open House Centennial Library Inuvik Community Room October 30 th 7-9pm Open House Westmark Hotel Whitehorse Visit the Vuntut National Park Website at: Plan to Participate! Aussi disponible en français

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