What infrastructure is appropriate at the designated camping areas? (Phase 3)

In keeping with the park’s wilderness character, visitor facilities are minimal and visitors are encouraged to camp at random locations of their choosing. If a location experiences frequent and concentrated use, management actions are considered to minimize impacts. The draft management plan proposes designating an additional four camping areas: The Gate, Lafferty’s, Glacier Lake and Fairy Meadows. These are in addition to the four currently designated camping areas: Gahnįhthah Mie (Rabbitkettle Lake); South Nahanni River Island; Náįlįcho (Virginia Falls); and Kraus Hotsprings.

In order to ensure that the camping areas are compatible with the park’s wilderness qualities, they must be primitive in nature. Potential infrastructure is limited to tent pads or cleared tent sites, food caches, fire rings, and outdoor privies. Do you have suggestions for appropriate infrastructure at each of the four proposed areas that would provide a quality camping experience, while minimizing environmental impacts? Is there infrastructure that is particularly important at one or more of the camping areas?

Nahanni Comment 1

2:53pm, 30 December 2009

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Keep it to a minimum for the environment and to limit the intrusion on the visitor’s desired wilderness experience.

Bufflehead Comment 2

8:34pm, 9 January 2010

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It would be great to see designated campsites and outdoor privies in the popular areas listed above. Educating people on proper backcountry camping techniques in also necessary. I have been to too many campsites and watched people cooking their dinner at an empty tent pad – I don’t want to set up my tent anywhere near where people have been cooking.

Steve – Parks Canada Comment 3

Resource Conservation

3:34pm, 11 January 2010

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Designated camping areas are established to protect their surrounding environments from concentrated and repeated use. Campsite monitoring occurs along the river corridor on an annual basis. In addition, observations of two established camping areas in the expansion area have led park managers to the decision to propose four new designated camping areas.

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Recent observations include:

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Lafferty’s – This is an established campsite with high use due to its location at the end of First Canyon. Monitoring has found evidence of shallow latrines and exposed toilet paper and human faeces in the adjacent treed area. There has been a noticeable reduction in vegetation cover and soil compaction throughout the area, with many tent areas and worn trails. This location has consistently received a poor to fair rating over the last 12 years of monitoring.

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Pulpit Rock (The Gate) – Received a poor rating in the 2009 monitoring survey and was found to have critical indicators at unacceptable levels. This site is a very popular campsite for many visitors, and is quite established and necessary due to its location in the canyons, the classic Nahanni scenery, and the hike overlooking Pulpit Rock. There are numerous side trails, log benches, reduced vegetation cover, soil disturbance and compaction, and exposure of roots. There is an issue with regular maintenance of the toilet facility. Tent pads, food caches and increased maintenance of the toilet facility may be appropriate.

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Glacier Lake – This is a location that visitors stop at as part of flight seeing tours, or en-route to/from Fairy Meadows and the Cirque-of-the-Unclimbables. There is growing concern about improperly disposed human waste and other refuse. Some form of toilet facility is being considered for this site.

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Fairy Meadows – Fairy Meadows is the camping area for climbers who are attempting climbs in the Cirque-of-the-Unclimbables, as well as a destination for several river groups each year. Given the number of visitors (approximately 75 climbers and 150 hikers annually), this area fits the criteria for a designated camping area. An outhouse was installed almost a decade ago by the climbing community to reduce the impact of campers on the nearby stream.

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Associated with the camping area designation, the draft management plan includes proposed actions to minimize ecological impacts, improve human waste management, and review the need for basic facilities.

Bufflehead Comment 3.1

11:37pm, 12 January 2010

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I’ve mentioned this a couple of times on this site already but I’ll state it again. Education of no-trace camping needs to be greatly improved by Parks staff. People paddling the Nahanni have left large piles of feces and toilet paper on popular beaches (not even in the woods), set up their kitchen beside other campers tents. Even though paddlers are not suppose to get out of their boats at White Spray Springs, when I passed the area, it was covered in footprints. I’ve watched ground squirrels and marmots rummaging in open tents with food in them in the Cirque.

I’ve hiked in a lot of Canadian National Parks and a lack of backcountry knowledge is a reoccuring theme. I’ve been asked “it’s okay to leave vegetable peelings in the fire pit isn’t it?” How do people with so little knowledge about proper bear safety get past Parks staff and get into an area heavily frequented by grizzly bears?

Steve – Parks Canada Comment 3.1.1

Resource Conservation

5:08pm, 13 January 2010

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We are always striving to improve. We continually review our information programs and seek feedback. Thank you for your comments.

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For close to a decade now, Park staff have been conducting an information and orientation session with virtually all park visitors once they arrive at either Virginia Falls or Rabbitkettle Lake. This is in addition to the mandatory registration that happens before visitors depart for the park. The in-park orientation session provides a considerable amount of public safet inrmation (including river and bear safety), and also provides numerous examples and suggestions of how visitors can lessen their impact as they travel down the river. Leave-No-Trace principles are specifically highlighted in the orientation, including subject areas such as, choice of campsite location, use of fireboxes, disposal of grey water and human waste.

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Maybe it is time for a more structured review of gaps and how the information is presented.

Mzero Comment 3.2

10:29pm, 16 January 2010

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I think people should be encouraged to camp on rocky beaches as much as possible to minimise impact and traces. This is what we did on the guided trip I took. It was surprising how comfortable it was sleeping on “pebbles”. I was also impressed by how well the guides handled the “loo”. In my experience a good guiding outfit is the best and most responsible way to see the park.

I hope that any facilities that are provided at the newly designated campsites will not be visible from the river. The beauty of that canoe trip was the wilderness experience, which was only spoiled at Virginia Falls.

Jay Frederic Comment 4

7:50am, 29 January 2010

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I would suspect that Moore’s Hotspring/Island-/Honeymoon-/Haywire lakes will be a more sought after flying-in destination in the future. Therefore, the NNPR management team should consider this locaation as an additioal new camping area with, however, a primitive infrastructure, but including cleared tent sites etc. and facilities to take care of human waste.

Skeeter Comment 4.1

12:21pm, 2 March 2010

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One thing to keep in mind is that floatplane access to Haywire lake is not always a guarantee, depending on wind conditions at the time of arrival, and as such is not necessarily a good spot to set up much infrastructure.