Some of our friends at the Canadian Boreal Initiative (our Canadian partner and ally) recently embarked on a trip to Labrador’s Boreal Forest. Specifically, they were visiting the newly announced Mealy Mountains National Park and adjacent Eagle River proposed provincial waterway park.
Here’s a map of the two areas from the Globe and Mail:
CBI’s Larry Innes, Valerie Courtois, and Jon Feldgajer were able to visit the area to talk with locals about the parks and how they will be managed. They were also able to bring some various media folks along for the tour to help showcase this important region and how its protection is a great step forward in boreal protection in Eastern Canada. There had previously been a lack of protection in this unique type of boreal forest (which can be more rocky and open, especially in the Mealy Mountains), highlighting the importance of these parks and the biological uniqueness of the region.
Part of their trip was staying at the Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge alongside Eagle River. Eagle River is home to one of the most intact and healthy Atlantic salmon runs in North America. Atlantic salmon have been almost entirely removed from their traditional habitat in the United States (mostly in the Northeast corner) from a combination of fishing and impacts to rivers (such as dams). Millions of dollars have been spent on restoring traditional habitat in the U.S. - something we hope will never be needed in this part of Labrador.
They were able to spend some time sport fishing for Atlantic Salmon (don’t worry, it was catch-and-release):
The unique part about these parks is that traditional hunting and fishing will likely be able to continue – something that has alarmed some environmentalists. The Globe and Mail referred to it as an experimental type of park – to see if traditional hunting and fishing (seen as a right for local aboriginals) can be carefully managed enough so that local species can still thrive. This will obviously require some oversight, and we hope they can find the right balance between continuing traditional uses of land and protecting species if they become increasingly threatened.
The Globe and Mail was one of the media participants in the trip – Oliver Moore wrote an excellent article summarizing the trip and what he learned about the parks:
Also, Valerie and Jon were able to sit down with CBC Radio to discuss the region, the parks, and more:
Here are a couple more images from their trip – truly great scenery!