Grasslands National Park

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Grasslands National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Lake Waskesiu
Bison grazing in Grasslands National Park
Map showing the location of Grasslands National Park
Map showing the location of Grasslands National Park
Location of Grasslands National Park in Canada
LocationSaskatchewan, Canada
Nearest cityVal Marie 49°12'03.9"N+107°42'37.8
Coordinates49°12′03.85″N 107°42.′37.8″W / 49.2010694°N 107.710500°W / 49.2010694; -107.710500Coordinates: 49°12′03.85″N 107°42.′37.8″W / 49.2010694°N 107.710500°W / 49.2010694; -107.710500
Area907 km2 (350 sq mi)
Established1981
Visitors18,296[1] (in 2017-18)
Governing bodyParks Canada
Grasslands National Park

Grasslands National Park (French: Parc national des Prairies) is a national park in Canada. It is near the village of Val Marie, Saskatchewan. It is the second national park of Canada that was created in Saskatchewan. The park is next to the border between Canada and the United States. It is next to the state of Montana. More than 18 000 people visit the park every year.[1]

The park was created in 1981. Before this, the only national park in Saskatchewan was Prince Albert National Park. The park has some of Canada's last prairie grasslands that humans have not affected. The park's climate also lets some rare and endangered plants and animals live there. Grasslands National Park also have Canada's last black-tailed prairie dog groups.[2] The park is also a dark-sky preserve. Grasslands National Park is the darkest dark-sky preserve in Canada.[3][4] It is also one of the darkest in the world.[5]

Grasslands National Park also has a lot of fossils. It has many fossils that can't be found in other parts of Canada. Some of the fossils come from the Miocene Era.[6]

History[change | change source]

Before the 1950s, the First Nations people of Canada lived in the park. They hunted animals in the park.[2]

Many people wanted to protect the grasslands in the area. They also wanted to protect the plants and animals that lived in the area. In the 1950s and 1960s, many people wanted a large area of grasslands protected. A study in 1965 showed that this area of Saskatchewan would be the best place to start a park. Both the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan created a group to listen to the public's opinion in 1975. The group said that the public wanted the park to be created.[7]

In 1981, the governments of Saskatchewan and Canada signed an agreement. This would make sure that a park would be created. After the agreement was signed, Parks Canada bought two ranches. These ranches were near the Frenchman River and were 140 square kilometres (54 sq mi). In 1988, many organisations came together to add to the 1981 agreement. This would make it so that Grasslands National Park would be created. The plan for the park would be that it would be around 900 square kilometres (350 sq mi).[7] Parks Canada continued to buy more land for the park from ranchers.[2]

The park officially became a national park on 19 February 2001. This was because of the Canada National Parks Act.[7] In 2006, some of the plains bison that lived in Elk Island National Park in Alberta were moved to Grasslands National Park.[8] This was important because many of the bison in Canada were killed in the 1800s. It was the first time that plains bison were on the shortgrass prairies of Canada since the 1890s.[9] 71 bison were first moved to the park. Nine years later, in 2015, there were 310 bison.[10] There are now plains bison at other national parks in Canada.[11]

The park became a dark-sky preserve in 2009. This was during the International Year of Astronomy. The park was chosen by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.[4] It became Saskatchewan's second dark-sky preserve.[12] In 2009, Parks Canada also added black-footed ferrets back to the park. They added 34 ferrets.[13] People thought that the black-footed ferret was extinct. This is because the last time they were seen was in 1937 in Saskatchewan. Scientists from the United States began working on bringing them back to the wild. When Parks Canada added black-footed ferrets back to Grasslands National Park, there were already ferrets that were being added to places in the United States and Mexico. The scientists were working to bring back the black-footed ferret for many years. The people working at Parks Canada were working on bringing them back for many years.[14][15]

Geography[change | change source]

The park is divided into two parts. The west park of the park (called the West Block) is in Division No. 4, Saskatchewan. The West Block has the Frenchman River valley.[16] They also have a herd of 300 plains bison and many prairie dog colonies. The Frenchman Valley Campground lets visitors use camping sites and teepees. Backcountry camping is also allowed in the West Block. The east part of the park (called the East Block) is in Division No. 3, Saskatchewan. Visitors to the East Block can see views of the badlands[16] and see the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary in the rock.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Parks Canada Attendance 2017-18 - National Parks, Park Reserves, and Marine Conservation Areas". Parks Canada. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Finkelstein, Maxwell W. (23 May 2011). "Grasslands National Park". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  3. "'Marvel at the Milky Way': Where to stargaze across Canada". CTV News. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The darkest dark sky preserve in Canada". Parks Canada. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  5. "Grasslands National Park Dark Sky Preserve". Tourism Saskatchewan Canada. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  6. Atter, Heidi (22 August 2018). "'Exciting and surprising': 23-million-year-old mammalian bones found at dig site in Sask". CBC News. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Grasslands National Park - Park History". Parks Canada. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  8. "Where buffalo roam". The Montreal Gazette. 23 July 2007. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  9. "Parks Canada and Plains Bison" (PDF). Parks Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  10. "Bison update". Parks Canada. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  11. Franklin, Michael (2 August 2018). "Plains bison now allowed to roam freely in Banff National Park". CTV News. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  12. "Come over to the dark skies". Tourism Saskatchewan Canada. August 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  13. Pitts, Gordon (27 August 2011). "Stargazing in Canada's heart of darkness". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  14. "Black-footed ferret back on prairie turf". CBC News. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  15. Boswell, Randy (11 April 2009). "Parks Canada to reintroduce the black-footed ferret to the prairies". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Grasslands National Park - Nature and science". Parks Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2019.

Other websites[change | change source]