The provincial parks system preserves provincially-significant ecosystems, landscapes and cultural resources. Provincial park lands are material evidence of the cultural and natural environments that have existed within the province and, as such, are irreplaceable. Provincial parks can demonstrate the balance between preservation for the future, and its use for research, presentation and educational recreational uses today.
Provincial park lands make up 27 percent of the Saskatchewan Representative Areas Network (RAN) that is the cornerstone of the government's Saskatchewan Biodiversity Action Plan.
Our provincial parks and recreation sites are natural ecosystems that produce clean water and air and support an amazing diversity of native animals and plants, including several of species at risk. Their attractiveness as tourism and recreation destinations is ultimately based on a single, and vulnerable, foundation - healthy and attractive ecosystems for the enjoyment and education of park visitors.
Without healthy and vibrant ecosystems, the beauty of our parks will fade and they will cease to be prime recreation sites. The environmental changes brought about by humans in the last century are actively degrading the health of ecosystems and the diversity of wildlife within our parks. To conserve and protect parks, we must take a more active hand in counteracting the most harmful effects of surrounding human activities.
We know that it is possible to emulate the way nature works in our approaches to the management of parks. This challenge is being met with renewed vigor as the Saskatchewan Parks Service embarks on a program of working with nature to safeguard the forests, prairies, waters, and species across the system. Meeting this challenge will require resources, innovative thinking, communication, education and cooperation. These necessary factors for the conservation of parks are second nature to Saskatchewan people giving us an excellent opportunity to accomplish the long-term maintenance of ecosystems, species, and beauty in our parks. Without healthy and attractive parks, we would be a poorer province. Now, more than ever, we must work hard and long to conserve and protect what matters most in our parks.
One way that we can mimic the way that nature works is through the use of controlled burns. Fire is a natural way that ecosystems regenerate. The management of controlled burns allows us to use the regenerative power of fire, while still protecting people and manmade structures. Controlled burns will occur at the following locations in 2015-2016: Douglas Provincial Park, Greenwater Provincial Park and White Butte Trails Recreation Site.
For more information on the prescribed burn at the White Butte Trails Recreation Site, click here to access the burn plan.
Cultural Resource Management
The provincial parks system preserves provincially-significant cultural landscapes and heritage buildings and artifacts, the tangible resources of our past, as well as the stories and oral history, connected to these places. It contains sites associated with the early Aboriginal peoples, the fur trade, North West Mounted Police, the 1885 Resistance and settlement, including sites and features. They are found not only in historic parks and sites, but in the other provincial park lands as well. Many provincial park lands contain archaeological sites, sacred plants and special sites associated with the first inhabitants. They preserve not only the tangible resources associated with past events; they also preserve the intangible values that people place on these sites.
Canadian Heritage Rivers System
Saskatchewan has been in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) since the cooperative federal/provincial/territorial program to recognize Canada's outstanding rivers began in 1984.
The Clearwater River is Saskatchewan's only designated Canadian Heritage River. It was designated in 1986 and became Saskatchewan's first wilderness park, although park designation is not synonymous with CHRS designation.
Upon nomination for natural, cultural or recreational values, the designation process calls for the development of a management plan with the involvement of local people and other interested groups and individuals. The plan sets down how the special values, for which the river was nominated, will be protected and relies heavily on the stewardship efforts of all concerned parties, especially the people living along the river, to carry through on the plan. A designated river remains within the jurisdiction of the nominating provincial or territorial government.
The Saskatchewan Parks Service has been working with many partners in nominating the South Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Rivers as Canadian Heritage Rivers. In May 2012, the rivers were officially nominated by the Federal Government. Both the nomination document and the draft management plan can be found at http://www.saskriverbasin.ca/heritage_rivers.php.
The Churchill River was nominated in 1993 and remains a candidate heritage river, but has not been designated. Nominations for Saskatchewan rivers need to be initiated and strongly supported by groups representing the broad spectrum of river interests.