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Stikine River Provincial Park (217,000 hectares/536,229 acres) was created in order to protect the wild and dramatic Stikine River, and especially the portion that carves its way through the rocky surrounding plateau to form the stunning Grand Canyon of the Stikine. This 80 km (50 mi) long canyon is a unique geological feature in Canada. Its steep walls are at times as much as 300 m (984 ft) high. In the canyon's depths the Stikine River ranges from a 200 m (656 ft) wide body of water to an incredibly narrow and turbulent 2 m (6.5 ft) wide gap.

location

This park can be reached by travelling 440 km (270 mi) of Prince George on Highway 16 to just beyond the towns of New Hazelton and South Hazelton, then turning north onto Highway 37 for another 490 km (300 mi) to the town of Dease Lake. This portion of the Highway actually crosses the park, making it is possible to access the park where a bridge crosses the Stikine River. Alternatively, the west end of the park is accessed by the Telegraph Creek road, 110 km (70 mi) west from Dease Lake. It is also possible to access the upper Stikine by flying in rafts, starting in Spatsizi Park and continuing down the river. The Canyon can only be seen from the air; it is not possible to visit it by boat or foot. (Only a couple of groups of world-class kayakers have ever attempted to run the Grand Canyon of the Stikine.)


Click on the map to view an enlargement


"Stikine River Park...was created in order to protect the wild and dramatic Stikine River, and especially the portion that carves its way through the rocky surrounding plateau to form the stunning Grand Canyon of the Stikine."


wildlife

Stikine River Provincial Park contains two distinct landscape regions, the Southern Boreal Plateau and the Stikine Plateau. Each region supports specific groups of plants and animals. The park is home to both grizzly and black bears, as well as coyotes and wolves. The spectacular Grand Canyon of the Stikine provides habitat for a band of more than 300 mountain goats that live high on the canyon's cliff faces. Stone sheep, caribou, and moose reside in other parts of the park. The Stikine River itself contains salmon, and the park as a whole contains a variety of habitats important to bird species.


"The spectacular Grand Canyon of the Stikine is a home to a band of more than 300 mountain goats."


recreation

canoeistThe upper Stikine River provides high quality canoeing and boating wilderness river experiences. There is a basic boat launch available on the west side of Highway 37 where it crosses the river. The lower portion of the river through the Grand Canyon of the Stikine is unnavigable, and should not be attempted under any circumstances. There are a variety of fish species in the river including Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling and rainbow trout depending on the time of year. Chinook salmon, and steelhead run the river up to the lower end of the Grand Canyon. Above there the extreme turbulence of the river blocks their passage upstream. A valid fishing license is required to fish in BC.

Hiking opportunities are possible but limited in this beautiful park. A pull out located just beyond where the Telegraph Creek Road (from Dease Lake) enters the park is the trailhead to a short trail leading to a lookout over the Tuya River Valley. However, for the most part this wilderness is not easily accessible on foot.


"The upper Stikine River provides a high quality canoeing and boating wilderness river experience."


history

The earliest known people to live in the Stikine River area were the Tahltan Indians. For countless years these people lived along the river and farther upstream into the Spatsizi country, trading with the coastal Tlingit people downstream. Europeans arrived in the Stikine area in the late 1800s, to survey the area for use as part of the Collins Overland Telegraph route, which was intended to link North America by telegraph with Europe via Alaska and Siberia! This line was never completed - although the trail was cut through the Stikine area - as telegraph cables laid across the Atlantic rendered the overland Collins route unfeasible. However, soon the town of Telegraph Creek had sprung up, serviced by sternwheelers that travelled the river. And while the telegraph line was eventually abandoned, the Stikine attracted the attention of the gold rush bound miners as an alternative route to the Klondike. As well the Stikine region was also found to be rich in minerals.

The earliest proposal to preserve the Stikine goes back into the late 1940s, when local guide outfitter Tommy Walker began to spread word that the Stikine River, including its Grand Canyon, needed protection. In the mid-70s and early 1980s BC Hydro proposed the construction of a series of massive power dams in the Grand Canyon of the Stikine that would have flooded the area, destroying this spectacular wild country.


"In the mid-1970s and early 1980s BC Hydro proposed the construction of a series of massive power dams in the Grand Canyon of the Stikine that would have flooded the area, destroying this spectacular wild country."


To counter this, in the 1980s, Tony Pearce of Smithers formed the Friends of the Stikine Society. This group along with a number of other conservation organisations, especially the Outdoor Recreation Council, the Sierra Club, and the South East Alaska Conservation Coalition, fought to prevent the damming of the Stikine River. By the mid-1980s it was becoming apparent that the cost of building the power dams had become so prohibitive that the whole project was rendered uneconomic. In fact, given the remoteness of the area, it was estimated that the cost of building the power lines to the Stikine site was actually going to cost more than the building of the immense dams.

The cancelling of the proposed hydro project gave the wild Stikine River a new lease on life. In 1986, due to the controversy generated as to whether to protect Gwaii Haanas/South Moresby and the Stein River. as parks, then Premier Bill Bennett convened the Wilderness Advisory Committee (WAC) to assess these and several other wilderness area proposals. One of these areas was the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. Given the drama of the mid-portion of the Stikine, the strong citizen interest in the area and the fact that the hydro dam proposals had been withdrawn, the Wilderness Advisory Committee recommended that the area should be preserved.

The Stikine River Recreation Area was legislated in the late 1980s, protecting a broad corridor down the Stikine River valley from Spatsizi Provincial Park almost all the way to Telegraph Creek. The upstream protected portion of the Stikine River Recreation Area was important because the boundaries drawn for Spatsizi in the early 1970s were done so swiftly and with such limited knowledge that they had missed critical Upper Stikine valley bottom winter range for caribou and moose. The recreation area not only protected this important habitat but also included the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Stikine.

In the late 1990s, when the Stikine Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) process was convened, there was an attempt by some of the mining industry to dismantle the Stikine River Recreation Area. A convergence of key groups including the Friends of the Stikine, BC Spaces for Nature and the Tahltan First Nation resulted in the Recreation Area being upgraded to Class A Provincial Park status, adding substantial areas of land north of the Stikine and around Spatsizi. Expanding the boundaries of the Spatsizi-Stikine River Provincial Park complex has effectively protected the key wildlife and ecological values of the upper Stikine and Grand Canyon.


"The recreation area not only protected this important habitat but also included the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Stikine."


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