Environment and Conservation
Executive Council
July 31, 2015

Promoting Our Natural Heritage

Provincial and Federal Governments Recognize Mealy Mountains as National Park Reserve

The Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of Environment and Conservation, along with the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today announced Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak - Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve as Canada's 46th national park.

"Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve represents an excellent model of sustainable environmental, social and economic benefits for residents and communities of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Provincial Government is committed to protecting provincially and nationally significant landscapes and contributing to a Canada-wide network of protected areas and I welcome the addition of the Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve to our existing parks and protected areas system."
- The Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of Environment and Conservation

The agreement between the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada will see the transfer of 10,700 square kilometres of land from the province to Canada to create the National Park Reserve. The announcement by the federal government is available at www.news.gc.ca

"Our Government has demonstrated unparalleled leadership in the conservation and protection of Canada's natural heritage. We have presided over one of the greatest periods of conservation in Canada's history. Getting this done is a huge accomplishment for both the region and Canada and I am proud that today's hard work means future generations will be able to experience this beautiful part of our country."
- The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

The national park proposal was the subject of engagement with Labradorians, local communities, stakeholders and Aboriginal governments and organizations.

"The Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve offers a majestic landscape which has figured prominently in the history of Labrador and Aboriginal people. I am pleased that we now have this recognized National Park Reserve which will be protected for the enjoyment and use of Aboriginal people, Labradorians, all residents of the province and national and international visitors."
- The Honourable Keith Russell, Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs

The Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve will protect a significant portion of the range of the threatened Mealy Mountain caribou herd, including key habitat along the coast and on offshore islands. The landscape is of great significance to Aboriginal people. The area includes mountain tundra, marine coasts, boreal forests, islands and wild rivers that are home to Atlantic salmon and trout.

The Provincial Government will consult Parks Canada on land-use plans and resource management issues on provincial Crown lands adjacent to the park including the proposed waterway provincial park along the Eagle River. An illustrative map of the National Park Reserve Lands is available at http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/parks/maps/npr_lands_map.pdf

A summary of the Land Transfer Agreement between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Parks Canada, along with additional information on the Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve can be found in the backgrounder below.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Provincial and Federal Government today announced the establishment of Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak - Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve as Canada's 46th national park.
  • The Mealy Mountains is Newfoundland and Labrador's fourth national park.
  • The National Park reserve will protect roughly 10,700 sq. km, an area more than twice the size of Prince Edward Island, which will make it the largest federal national park in eastern North America.
  • Easterly from the mountain tundra of the Mealy Mountains is a dramatic transition to a lush forested landscape, which gently descends toward the coast until it meets the frigid waters of the Labrador Sea. This is a landscape of undisturbed watersheds and pristine wild rivers with breathtaking rapids and waterfalls.
  • The National Park Reserve is named for the Mealy Mountains, glacially-rounded, bare rock summits which overlook Lake Melville and reach to 1,100 metres. Akami-uapishku and KakKasuak are the traditional names for the park reserve: Akami-uapishku is the Innu name for the area meaning White Mountain across and KakKasuak is the Labrador Inuit word for mountain.

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Media contacts:

Jennifer Collingwood
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575
jennifercollingwood@gov.nl.ca
Vanessa Colman Sadd
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
Director of Communications
709-729-1495, 682-6593
vanessacolmansadd@gov.nl.ca
Jonathan Lefebvre
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Parks Canada
819-997-1441, 1-855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca

BACKGROUNDER
National Park Reserve Values

Located in the East Coast Boreal Natural Region of Parks Canada's world-class national parks system, Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak - Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve of Canada will protect approximately 10,700 square kilometres of a stunning array of pristine landscapes, vegetation and wildlife. Canada's newest and 46th national park will protect cultural landscapes of importance to Aboriginal and other people in the region.

The focal point of the park reserve is the Mealy Mountains themselves - the rugged mountains that give the area its name. Their glacially-rounded and bare rock summits, which overlook Lake Melville, reach to 1,100 metres.

Easterly from the mountain tundra of the Mealy Mountains is a dramatic transition to a lush forested landscape, which gently descends toward the coast until it meets the frigid waters of the Labrador Sea. This is a landscape of undisturbed watersheds and pristine wild rivers with breathtaking rapids and waterfalls.

The beautiful White Bear, North and English rivers include both Atlantic salmon and trout, and their valleys will offer exceptional hiking opportunities to visitors. Where the park reserve fronts the Labrador Sea, an extensive, 50-kilometre stretch of unbroken sandy beaches known as the Wunderstrand can be found. This spectacular beach is recorded in Viking sagas relating their voyages of exploration along the Atlantic Coast.

The park reserve will play an important role in wildlife conservation. It protects a significant portion of the range of the threatened Mealy Mountains caribou herd, including key habitat along the coast and on offshore islands. Extensive landscapes of boreal forest, which are home to caribou, wolves, black bear, marten and fox can be found both just north of Sandwich Bay as well as along the south shore of Lake Melville. Toward the south, extensive wetlands provide important habitat for migratory birds such as ducks and geese.

With the signing of the park establishment agreements, planning work will begin to guide conservation and visitor experience programs. As well, collaborative efforts with Aboriginal governments and organizations and the tourism sector will further enhance the natural and cultural tourism opportunities that will eventually be available to visitors. The national park reserve will provide outstanding opportunities for all Canadians to appreciate and enjoy this landscape.

Establishing a national park reserve in the Mealy Mountains protects a representative example of Canada's East Coast Boreal Region, achieving important progress towards the goal of creating a system of national parks that represents the rich diversity of Canada's landscapes. It will also contribute to Newfoundland and Labrador's objective of protecting examples of each of the province's ecoregions.

Summary of Land Transfer Agreement Between

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Parks Canada

The land transfer agreement (LTA) signed by the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador contains the terms and conditions for the transfer of provincial crown land to the Government of Canada for the purpose of establishing the Akami-uapishku - KakKasuak Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Provincial Government will, within six months of the signing of the land transfer agreement, transfer to Parks Canada the administration and control of the lands. Provincial leases and licences to occupy will continue in accordance with their terms and conditions for only as long as the existing lease or licence is valid. Upon the termination date of these leases or licenses, Parks Canada will issue a revised set of terms and conditions as the managing authority. Prior to the transfer of the lands, the Province is to terminate all leases and licences issued under the Mineral Act with Parks Canada providing compensation.

In preparing a management plan for the park, Parks Canada will consult the Province, consider its comments and provide a written response. Parks Canada will hold public forums in Labrador to review the progress made in park establishment and to hear recommendations from the public.

The Province will consult Parks Canada on land-use plans and resource management issues on provincial Crown lands adjacent to the park including the proposed waterway provincial park along the Eagle River.

Parks Canada agrees to establish an administration headquarters in the Upper Lake Melville area. It will also establish visitor reception and orientation presence in the area of Upper Lake Melville and Cartwright. Parks Canada may also have an administration presence in the communities of Rigolet and Cartwright. Parks Canada will also create a visitor reception and orientation presence in Rigolet. Parks Canada is to develop within five years of signing the LTA a tourism strategy for the park.

Parks Canada will provide, in perpetuity, for the continuation of traditional activities and land use by traditional land users within the national park reserve, subject to such terms, conditions, limits, seasons and measures as Parks Canada considers reasonable to ensure sustainable use and conservation. The traditional activities and land use will be permitted to continue by Parks Canada using a framework where activities will be managed under the Canada National Parks Act and associated regulations, the management plan and the zoning plan.

Parks Canada will establish a local advisory committee that will include several members chosen from the communities for the purpose of advising Parks Canada on issues related to the carrying on of traditional activities and land uses.

2015 07 31                              6:40 p.m.