Holiday water report 2019
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HOLIDAY WATER 2019 - BC NATIONAL PARKS
By Suzanne Forcese
Among Canada's jewels, representing the power of Canada's unspoilt natural environment, the course of history and the people, National Parks are established to protect and present outstanding representative examples of natural landscapes and phenomena. Parks Canada is responsible for both protecting the ecosystems of these magnificent areas and managing them for visitors to understand, appreciate and enjoy in a way that doesn't compromise their integrity. WaterToday took a whirlwind tour of British Columbia's 7 magnificent National Parks and checked on what you need to know for safe travel exploration.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Made of 3 units which include the 16 km Long Beach, Broken Group Islands and the 75 km West Coast Trail Unit, the exposed west coast of Vancouver Island provides many spectacular features in the park, from long sandy beaches, rugged rocky shoreline and an island archipelago. Check out the old growth temperate rainforest and significant First Nation archaeological sites.
Parks Canada is not reporting any drinking water issues.
Note: Infrastructure work in the park starting June 2019 includes the creation of a new multi-use path through the Park Reserve. Work is north of Wick Road along Highway 4. Expect short delays of up to 10 minutes while work is underway. The trail route is largely away from the road, with very little expected impact to visitors.
Schooner Cove Trail: Boardwalk improvements. Due to extensive winter storm damage the Schooner Cove Trail and parking lot in the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is closed to ensure the safety of visitors until further notice. Parks Canada is working closely with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations to re-open the trail by late summer 2019. Always check the tides before heading out as some sections of Schooner Cove are impassable at high tides.
Logan Creek Bridge, West Coast Trail: The Logan Creek suspension bridge is located approximately 19 km from Gordon River Trailhead on the West Coast Trail. Work to replace the existing 75 metre bridge upstream of the current site is nearing completion. The existing bridge will continue to provide a crossing. Parks Canada has been making improvements to Grice Bay Road including hazard tree removal, culvert replacements, slope stabilisation, and drainage enhancements to ensure ongoing access to boat launch and improve salmon movement and water drainage in the area.
Visitors are responsible for their own safety and must use extreme caution while engaging in any water activity. Be prepared. Consult a tide table, the swell forecast and the park's wave hazard rating before starting your shoreline hike or water activities on the Government of Canada website.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
The Park protects a portion of B.C.'s southern Gulf Islands resembling a patchwork quilt scattered over 15 larger islands, a campground on Vancouver Island, and numerous islets, reefs and approximately 26 km of marine areas.
BC Ferries provide service to Pender Island, Maine Island and Saturna Island. Other destinations amongst the Salish Sea require a personal boat or marine charter. Lush forest trails and a rich marine life are the attractions.
WT heard from Laura Judson of Parks Canada who checked in with a clean bill of health for the drinking water in the Park Reserve.
Prevention of Lyme Disease is the advisory here. Wear the appropriate clothing and do body checks. For more information on Lyme Disease and ticks go to the Government of Canada Health Services website.
Off to the Kootenay Rockies there are several National Parks.
Mount Revelstoke National Park
South East of Revelstoke, the Park provides safe territory for the woodland caribou, bears, moose mountain goats and more. Although there is only a brief snow-free season in the summer there are meadows of wildflower and lush rainforest.
Current fire danger is moderate. The Sky parkway is open to Caribou Cabin (20km).
Warning - Bear activity. Give wildlife lots of space. Keep dogs on a leash.
Construction of a new campground in lower Mount Revelstoke National Park will continue through the summer. You may encounter construction traffic on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway before the welcome kiosk.
Park Officials give drinking water a thumbs up.
Kootenay National Park
Near the Alberta border in the Rocky Mountains the Park is part of the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Startling contrasts can be experienced amongst the towering summits, hanging glaciers, narrow chasm, and semi-arid grasslands where cactus grows. Soak in the steamy hot springs of the Radium Hot Springs and explore the dry terrain of Columbia Valley. Check out Olive Lake Marble Canyon and Sinclair Canyon. A unique part of the visit are the Paint Pots, iron rich mineral springs staining the soil dark red-orange.
WT spoke with Amy Krause of Parks Canada. "I can confirm that in Kootenay there are no Boil Water Advisories (BWA). There is a new Clean Drain Dry Requirement in place for watercraft and gear."
This is serious.
"As of June 1, 2019, visitors must complete a mandatory self-inspection of their watercraft before entering any new body of water in Yoho and Kootenay National parks. The inspection form will act as a permit. Self-inspection permit stations are located throughout the park at boat launches and the most popular boating areas. People recreating on the water must have their permits available for examination. Roving staff will answer questions and ensure visitors understand the inspection process. Since the permit is a legal requirement, Park Wardens will be checking that visitors completed the self-inspection and will take appropriate action as necessary. Not complying with the mandatory self-inspection could result in legal action ranging from a small fine to a court date and maximum fine of $25,000."
Glacier National Park
For alpine hiking, head west of Golden, B.C. to Glacier National Park. The terrain was established as a National Park with the completion of two major historic transportation routes, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans- Canada Highway. Known for heavy snowfalls with many hiking trails up through the rugged Columbia Mountains your destination can lead to one of Canada's largest cave systems, active glaciers and a variety of local wildlife including endangered species such as mountain caribou, mountain goat and grizzly bear. The Park protects unique stands of old growth cedar and hemlock.
Gearing up for a challenge? There are 8 hard trails ranging from 1.8 to 11.8 miles and from 4002 to 10,000 feet above sea level.
Regular avalanche forecasts are now over for the season. Parks Canada has announced that the Trans -Canada Highway running through Rogers Pass and Glacier National Park will be getting the world's largest avalanche detection network with a series of sensors to detect avalanches as well as general snow and ice movement.
WT spoke with Shelley Bird of Parks Canada who is getting ready for the season in one of the last Parks to see summer arrive. "The snow is just starting to go. We have drinking water available on our campgrounds. The water is tested regularly and everything is good to go." She also emphasized the need to be Bear Smart.
Yoho National Park
Located on the Alberta border approximately 58 km from Golden BC, Yoho (the Cree word expressing awe and wonder) was created by John A. MacDonald in 1886. The land is spectacular with massive mountain peaks, Takakkaw Falls with a 254 m stretch of tumbling waters and the turquoise waters of Emerald Lake. The park holds the secrets of ancient ocean life and the power of ice and water. See the natural rock bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River and the immense Hoodoos, pillars of glacial till. Waterfalls include Wapta Falls, on the Kicking Horse River. The Lake O'Hare area contains alpine lakes, cliffs and wooded trails.
Amy Krause confirmed there are no BWA's in Yoho and also strongly emphasized the new Clean Drain Dry Requirement is in effect with stiff penalties of up to $25,000 for non-compliance.
"Bears are waking up. Travel in groups, make noise, carry bear spray and know how to use it. Keep pets on a leash at all times."
Attention: Tick season is on. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. Be careful when travelling in areas with a lot of underbrush and make sure you check yourself and your clothing after any hikes.
Elk Calving season is on. Protective mothers will aggressively protect their newborns by kicking and charging at people. Stay 30 meters away from all elk. Avoid female elk – they separate from the herd for calving and may have calves nearby.
Trail conditions - trails in lower elevations are mostly dry. Mud and snow are present on some trails. Yoho Lake and Iceline Trails are snowbound at the Yoho Lake -Iceline Trail junction. Be aware of avalanche terrain.
In Northern BC and Haida Gwaii we have one National Park.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
Gwaii Haanas means the 'Islands of Beauty'. The land and sea that are held within this protected environment surpass its name. South of Haida Gwaii and 130 km off the mainland of BC, the Park Reserve has a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site. The 3400 sq km within the National Marine Conservation Area Reserve is a primary feeding habitat of the humpback whale and is one of the only reserves in the world protected right from the ocean floor to the peaks of the mountains.
Gwaii Haanas represents the Pacific Coast Mountains Terrestrial Region, the Heate Strait and West Queen Charlotte marine Regions of Canada. The park is a remote collection of 138 islands in the southern part of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Parks Canada says, "It is critical that visitors who plan to travel on their own in Gwaii Haanas have the skills and are adequately prepared to be self-sufficient in emergency situations, including equipment failure. Emergency responses are weather dependent and thus in foul weather, it may be hours before emergency response personnel reach visitors in distress. Marine navigation skills are essential to staying safe in remote waters of Gwaii Haanas.
There are no cellphone or internet services in Gwaii Haanas. All boats travelling in the area should be equipped with a VHF radio. Even on beautiful days the weather can change quickly.
Bears are often seen foraging in the inter-tidal zone.
Facilities in and around Gwaii Haanas are minimal. Access is limited to boats and seaplanes. There are no roads stores or fuelling facilities. There are a few mooring buoys, two water hoses and limited navigational aids.
This area has significant tidal variation, strong currents, rapidly changing weather and strong winds that develop with little or no warning.
Have a safe and enjoyable visit to the National Parks of Canada in British Columbia.
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