Located on the western portion of the Yukon North Slope, Ivvavik National Park boasts 10,168 square kilometres of unspoiled beauty. It is also the first Canadian national park created by a land claim. Parameters for Ivvavik National Park were set out in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA), and made official via the National Parks Act.
Ivvavik National Park is home to some unique environmental and cultural features. These include, but are certainly not limited to, the 10,000-year-old Firth River Canyon, an important early archaeological site at Engigstciak, and two sites where the first Thule Eskimo remains were found. One can also find ancient caribou fences, once used by the coastal people for hunting.
The park's landscape is as diverse as the wildlife that lives there. Most of the Ivvavik National Park was ice-free during the Wisconsin Ice Age and does not bear scars of the time. The park does include arctic tundra of the coastal plain, alpine tundra in the British Mountains, and boreal or taiga forest.
Ivvavik is an Inuvialukton word meaning "a place to give birth and raise young". It is therefore not surprising that the park touts an array of interesting animals and their offspring. Ivvavik is home to the most northern herd of Dall sheep, to grizzly and polar bears, and to a growing muskox population. Geese and other waterfowl raise their young in Ivvavik. The coastal area is used as a calving ground (and a refuge from biting insects) by the Porcupine Caribou Herd.
To date, little development has taken place in Ivvavik National Park. Under new IFA/National Parks Act regulations, some development, such as the hydraulic gold mine at Sheep Creek, was forced to stop. Today, the only “industrial” user of the park is the Department of National Defence, as two automated short range warning stations are found in the Ivvavik: one at Stokes Point and the other at Komakuk Beach.
Ecotourism is alive and well at Ivvavik National Park. During the summer, rafters, hikers and wildlife viewers frequent this pristine area, and are never disappointed.
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