Temp Ban in National Park Expiring, Could Bring Land Grab

<p>The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society warns that industry could jump on Nahanni National Park Reserve and stake claims when an interim ban ends in October unless the federal government grants the reserve permanent protected status.</p>
July 20, 2008, 5am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau originally set aside the Nahanni in 1972 to protect it from proposed hydro-electric development after he was struck by the area's rugged beauty. A mighty river meanders through craggy canyons, plunging in thunderous plumes at mammoth waterfalls along the way. Wolves, grizzly bears, lynx and woodland caribou roam the dense boreal forest.

The United Nations later designated the area as a world heritage site in 1978.

At first, only 5,000 square kilometres were protected. Over the years, Ottawa has granted protected status to a swath of reserve surrounding the park.

The first expansion came in 2003, when the Dehcho First Nations gave Parks Canada temporary protection of an additional 23,000 square kilometres in the area through an interim land-withdrawal process.

The reserve's boundaries grew again last summer when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced another 5,400 square kilometres of land would be barred from further development. All told, the park and reserve together now encompass an area that's nearly five times the size of Prince Edward Island.

But all this expansion has created a confusing patchwork in which the park is permanently off-limits to development while the reserve around it is only temporarily protected."

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Published on Friday, July 18, 2008 in The Canadian Press
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