Feds’ plan to save Wood Buffalo includes Indigenous input

The Trudeau government said Friday that it has a plan to save the international heritage status of Wood Buffalo National Park, in part, by having more input from local Indigenous people.

Other upgrades include closer monitoring of the tailings from the oil sands at the southern end of the park, adding staff and purposely recreating spring flooding to rejuvenate the park’s waterways.

The plan for the park, which straddles the NWT-Alberta boundary, comes almost two years after the United Nations warned Wood Buffalo National Park was at risk of being declared in danger as a world-heritage site because it wasn’t being properly managed.

That warning came after complaints made to the U.N. by the local Indigenous people – the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which believes climate change, hydro dams and the oil sands are having catastrophic effects on the park’s ecosystem.

Mikisew spokeswoman Melody Lepine says the biggest question mark over the park’s future is whether the government will now put in the resources needed to save it.

Last year’s federal budget included a $1.3-billion, five-year investment in national parks, and in July, $27.5 million of that was designated for Wood Buffalo – Canada’s largest national park.

Wood Buffalo National Park covers 45,000 square kilometres of forests, wetlands and grasslands and is home to the largest free roaming wood-bison herd, a huge breeding ground for whooping cranes and one of the largest inland river deltas in the world – the Peace Athabasca system.

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