KEJIMKUJIK NATIONAL PARK:
An interdisciplinary case study
The first Kejimkujik National Park plan was approved in 1978. The Park represented the natural features and processes within the Atlantic Coast Uplands Natural Region in Canada. It protected 381 sq. km of inland lakes and forests, and 22 sq. km of coastline. It was characterized by myriad lakes and rivers, undulating glacial landforms, a segment of rugged Atlantic Ocean shoreline, and a large area of natural habitat which was one of the last vestiges of protected wilderness in Nova Scotia (Management Plan, 1994). It was part of the Canadian National Parks System.
The Ministry of Canadian Heritage was responsible for the Parks Canada Directorate. In the most recent Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policies (GPOP,1994) it was suggested that we, as Canadians, appreciated the beauty of the natural landscape and the richness of our history. These elements contributed to a collective sense of Canada's national identity and shared sense of pride. Further, they unified us, as a people, and expressed our national diversity. Canadians shared this heritage with each other and welcomed others to value, to respect and to learn about it.
The Parks Canada mandate (GPOP, 1994) was to establish a comprehensive network of protected areas representative of Canada's natural and cultural heritage. Its vision included leadership in the management of protected, promotion of sound principles of stewardship and citizen awareness, and ecological and commemorative integrity. Clearly, ensuring commemorative integrity and protecting ecological integrity were Parks Canada's primary values in the application of its guiding principles, as well as in its more detailed activity policies. Parks Canada (GPOP, 1994) stated that, "in every application of policy, this guiding principle is paramount."
This case was prepared by Drs. Jude Hirsch, Tom Herman and Richard Sparkman of Acadia University for the Acadia Institute Of Case Studies as a basis for classroom discussion, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management. The Institute gratefully acknowledges the co-operation and assistance of the management and staff at Kejimkujik National Park.
Copyright © 1995, the School of Business Administration, Acadia University. Reproduction of this case is allowed without permission for education purposes, but all such reproductions must acknowledge the copyright. This permission does not include publication.
In 1994 a change in fiscal policy was imposed that would make each national park more responsible for generating revenue. This meant that Kejimkujik National Park must generate approximately 400 thousand dollars of its 1.7 million dollar budget. The policy allowed that one half of any monies generated beyond this amount, up to 125%, may be used for local reinvestment in the same fiscal year.
This new policy, together with a stated commitment to commemorative and ecological integrity, had the potential to create significant tension in the Canadian Park Service. Two park senior management staff commented on the issue in the following ways:
We will have to put our people into serving the public -- the question is how?
Instead of doing things the way we are doing them now we are either going to have to take from the people who are currently using our services or re-distribute internal resources. We may have to do things we don't do now but in order to generate income or ensure under the pressure of the new fiscal policy that we achieve our primary mandate.
The superintendent of Kejimkujik National Park was accountable for the delivery of the Canada Park Service (CPS) program mandate and for supporting the delivery of relevant government objectives through the planning, programming and managing of park activities, assets, cultural and natural resources. His/her task was to develop and to implement a plan for the park to meet the new fiscal policy objective, while ensuring commemorative integrity and protecting ecological integrity.
Figure 1 Organization Chart: Kejimkujik National Park
The senior management team comprised six positions (Fig. 1), each responsible for aspects of implementing any policy related to the mandate of the Park. Several senior managers and staff discussed the future of the park and their responsibilities.
The Park Superintendent, in addition to ensuring the delivery of CPS mandate, was responsible for implementing measures for the commemoration, the protection and the presentation of the park in ways which reflected and respected nationally significant heritage values. Through public consultation, the needs and expectations of the public were met, while interpreting and ensuring the appropriate application of National Policy, relevant Acts and Regulations. The superintendent communicated the special nature of heritage qualities to the public and fostered strong environmental attitudes. He/she was responsible for consulting and negotiating with interest groups and government agencies in an effort to achieve optimum regional integration, to improve socio-economic impacts and to encourage federal/provincial relations. He/she participated in the development of national and regional policies and in the creation of legislation and management initiatives. The CPS examined the possibility of appointing one superintendent for the entire southwest region of Nova Scotia. This would have meant that one superintendent would have been responsible for Kejimkujik National Park, as well as all other national and historic park in the region.
The Chief Park Warden managed, planned and directed the Natural Resource Conservation Program under the Natural Resource Management Process. In addition, protection of the park's natural resources under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) was managed and ensured by this position. The Chief Park Warden planned, managed and directed a park public safety program, a law enforcement program and a public information program. The public information program related to the conservation and the protection of the park and ensured the safe use of the park facilities.
The Park Ecologist was a position in the organization that did not participate formally as a member of the senior park management team, but reported to and received specific functional guidance from the Chief Park Warden. This person developed, planned and coordinated the implementation of scientific ecological studies; provided advisory services on ecology-related subject areas of park management; developed and recommended park directives, guidelines and operational procedures which had ecological applications. He/she also developed and presented park positions on acid rain, environmental impacts from pesticide use and the prevalence of toxic chemicals in the environment. The Park Ecologist implemented strategies on natural resource management, maintained a computer-oriented park data plan, and ensured that the park addressed the ecological issues.
The Chief of Visitor Services planned and controlled the Visitor Activity Management Process, provided input on behalf of Visitor Services into area development plans and their application and participated in Park Management Planning and Capital Project Development Programs. This position was responsible for planning, organizing, directing and controlling the visitor service activity according to fiscal operational policy. He/she collected fees and ensured that appropriate levels of service were maintained. The position was also responsible for helping the visitor pre-plan the park experience. Visitor Services was responsible for welcoming and orienting visitors to the park and encouraging them to enjoy the various recreational facilities of the park. It controlled the park information program and managed concession operations. This position used concepts of marketing and communications theory.
The Chief Park Interpreter developed, supervised, organized, promoted and delivered a variety of environmental and cultural interpretative communication programs for Kejimkujik National Park. The person in this position developed, directed, co-ordinated and participated in all interpretation planning and management planning, including the financial and human resources of the interpretive section. As well as being responsible for the training of park staff in a variety of park resources, communication techniques and the use of audio-visual, photographic and other equipment, the Chief Park Interpreter established park support materials and park reference collections. This position provided information and professional and technical advice to professionals, researchers and the public on the environmental and cultural resources of the park and on the techniques of interpretation.
The General Works Manager was responsible for managing a maintenance program which provided essential services, protected capital assets and maintained vehicles and equipment.
The Administrative Services Officer planned and organized the parks's financial management services. The position also involved program planning analysis, accounting and systems operations, administration, personnel services, contract services, computerized data services and material management program.
The Management Plan for Kejimkujik National Park (1994) stated that:
the overall visitor services concept provides Park clientele with a distinctive, attractive package of opportunities in a splendid outdoor setting. These facilities, activities and programs will be tailored to current and future visitor needs as well as environmental and cultural concerns. Initiatives identified in the Management Plan are intended to capitalize on current visitor satisfaction, thereby continuing to make users' vacations as enjoyable as possible. Management objectives for the visitor services are listed in Figure 2.
The Plan also stated that the park had experienced an increase in visitation, both in terms of day visitors and campers, during the past several years. Although forecountry camping at Jeremy's Bay had been very consistent, backcountry camping had almost quadrupled. Nearly 70 percent of the visitors to the inland portion of the park were returning and considered the park to be the main destination of their trip.
To ensure that the essential needs of visitors are met, allowing a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction.
To encourage visitors of varying interests, skills and backgrounds to use and explore the park in all seasons.
To ensure that the needs of visitors with disabilities are addressed in the planning and delivery of services.
To explore all possible avenues for visitors to appreciate and enjoy the park's scenery, natural features and services.
To promote canoeing as an ideal way to appreciate the park.
To encourage visitors to be environmentally-sensitive, so as to ensure that the wilderness atmosphere and character are not compromised.
To strengthen the park's standing as an active partner in the regional tourism market.
Figure 2 Visitor Services Management Objectives
An analysis of the park market situation suggested that the primary product offered at the park was a rewarding outdoor recreation experience in a protected natural environment. Available experiences include:
well-developed, semi-serviced, forecountry camping;
soft adventure, backcountry camping;
a diversity of waterway experiences including some of Nova Scotia's most outstanding canoeing opportunities for all skill levels;
a comprehensive natural environmental and cultural history interpretation program;
high quality day-use opportunities characterized by beach use, picnicking, and sightseeing facilities, and forecountry hiking trails;
opportunities for exploring the pristine beaches, headlands, and lagoons of the Coastal portion of the park.
cross-country skiing in the winter season;
environmental education for schools and special interest groups such as scouts and community associations.
The provision of opportunity for recreation activities is one important means of encouraging public understanding of natural and cultural resources (A Proposed Framework for Assessing the Appropriateness of Recreation Activities in Protected Heritage Areas ( AARA,1994). This principle was affirmed in the GPOP (1994) and provided a challenge to manager, who daily made informed decisions on the appropriateness and management of recreation activities. This document stated:
Opportunities will be provided to visitors that enhance public understanding, appreciation, enjoyment and protection of the national heritage and which are appropriate to the purpose of each park and historic site. Essential and basic services are provided while maintaining ecological and commemorative integrity and recognizing the effects of incremental and cumulative impacts.
Public opportunities are provided for in ways which contribute to heritage protection and national identity objectives, and which build public support for, and awareness, of Canadian heritage.
Activities which are considered allowable in a national park were:
consistent with these (GPOP) and the protection of ecological and/or commemorative integrity of protected heritage areas;
especially suited to the particular conditions of a specific protected area, and
the means to appreciate, understand and enjoy protected heritage area themes, messages and stories (GPOP, p. 118).
A list of CPS allowable outdoor recreation activities was offered as a guide (See appendix 2). It was not exhaustive but covered all of the major recreation activities and represented a starting point for the assessment of appropriate activity. Activities were assessed during a management plan review or leading up to the development of a management plan, as part of the Visitor Activity Management Planning process (VAMP). This was in conjunction with the development of a service plan or an independent assessment between management plans. Public involvement was normally an integral part of planning: the manner of involvement depended upon many factors and varied with each particular situation (AARA, 1994). Figure 3 summarizes the steps for completing an assessment and highlights the need for a comprehensive system of data collection and interpretation.
Step 1: Set the Context
This includes identifying the type of assessment being undertaken and its specific goals and objectives.
Step 2: Issues and Opportunities
These relate to supporting or not supporting the activity by responding to a series of questions grouped under ten headings, each representing a different area of potential management concern (App I).
Step 3: Synthesis
Analyze the issues and opportunities, identifying key costs and benefits and develop a Management position towards the activity.
Step 4: Future Service Offer
Describe what will be offered to support the activity by defining the conditions under which the activity will occur and the limits of acceptable change based on Service Planning Process.
Step 5: Implement and Monitor
Develop an implementation strategy and appropriate monitoring actions, communicate to staff, stakeholders and the public appropriate activities and conditions.
Figure 3 Appropriate Activity Assessment: The Steps
Visitors to Kejimkujik National Park
Early Visitors to the Kejimkujik Area
The Keji area was used for outdoor recreation long before the Park was established. Sports enthusiastists have been coming to the area since colonial times. The first visitors were officers from the British Imperial garrison at Halifax. The potential of the area was not widely recognized, with the exception of indigenous peoples, until approximately 100 years ago when Western Nova Scotia, including what is now Kejimkujik National Park, became popular for its hunting and fishing.
Visitors were primarily wealthy Americans including such well known men as Babe Ruth, John D. Rockerfeller, Zane Grey, and Albert Bigelow Paine. These wealthy Americans came to hunt and to fish and required guides, who supplied most of the camping gear and did almost all of the work. Travel of any distance required a canoe which was poled or paddled by the guide. Paine's book, The Tent Dwellers, (1908) was regarded as an accurate, though humorous, account of a 1907 trout fishing trip. In Paine's words:
The fisherman shall carry his own sporting paraphernalia - which is to say his rods, his gun, if he has one, his fishing basket and his landing net. It is the business of the guide to transport the canoes, the general outfit, and the stores.
Guides used routes well known to themselves but almost totally unmarked and nearly invisible to someone unfamiliar with Nova Scotia. Parties moved though lakes, rivers, streams, and overland between watersheds and around rapids on routes thought to be similar to those still in existence south of the park in the Tobeatic Wildlife Management Area and west of the park in the upper Sissiboo system. In more recent times, a wise traveller used canoe maps available through a variety of sources or solicited help from someone familiar with these routes.
Modern Visitors to Kejimkujik
Visitors to the Park can be divided into three groups: backcountry campers, frontcountry campers (Jeremys Bay Campground), and day users.
"Ten years ago there were 8000 visitors in the backcountry, in 1994 there were 11,000, the highest use ever!"
(Chief, Visitor Services, 1994)
The modern backcountry visitor to Kejimkujik National Park travelled through a well marked, well mapped, and well patrolled park designed for self guided travel. Portages were maintained with wide paths, surfaced where needed, and board walks made over bogs or other sensitive areas. Designated sites included firewood, tent pads, fire place, latrine, and picnic tables. Campers paddled their own canoes and carried their own gear. Some visitors fished, but hunting was prohibited in the Park.
Slightly over half of backcountry camping parties were family groups. Approximately one third of these were two person parties and one fourth were four person parties. Almost one party in five was a group of seven or more people and a very small number of campers travel solo. Males out number females almost three to one and youth groups, such as Boy Scouts, were common.
There are several hiking trails in the park, however, back country travel is primarily by water. It is suggested in the Kejimkujik Backcountry Guide available in the Visitor Service Centre that; "away from the canoe routes, more bobcats walk our trails than hikers." The majority of backcountry campers used canoes, some kayak and power boats were sometimes used on Kejimkujik Lake.
Backcountry campers were generally seeking the experience of canoeing to a backcountry camp site, setting up camp, cooking outdoors, exploring the area and sitting around a campfire. Scenery, natural surroundings, and peace and tranquillity were vital components of the experience. Visitors often sought a leisurely outdoor recreation experience.
There were various types of visitors to the backcountry. For example, the popularity of backcountry camping had increased among upper income professionals with higher levels of education. They increased the demand for backcounty sites and created greater numbers of inexperienced, albeit often well equipped, campers in the park. In addition to American and Canadian visitors there were greater numbers of Europeans visiting the park's backcountry.
The backcountry camper most often had a very positive and ecologically responsible attitude toward the environment. Lack of experience, however, sometimes created ecological impact. A small number of campers have used 300 year old Hemlock trees as axe throwing targets, while others strip the outer bark from birch trees to use as fire starter. Trees have been damaged in all parts of the backcountry, but damage was greater at more accessible sites. Generally, modern campers were less likely to commit acts of deliberate ecological vandalism than campers ten years ago.
The Park Facilities map in Appendix 1 shows the three major areas for backcountry canoe travel. Kejimkujik Lake was the most popular area, easily accessible to the inexperienced canoeist from the canoe rental concession and dock at Jakes Landing. Safety information was distributed at the Visitor Centre. As well the backcountry reservation system promoted a more pre-planned experience. The Chief of Visitor Services commented on the system:
The planned experience has really benefited us because traditionally what was happening was that people were showing up here with their plans all made and their gear all packed and they didn't necessarily fit from a skill level or safety level. So often they were taking things that were beyond their capabilities. Sometimes an unskilled party was forced to paddle beyond the site they thought they would camp at. People that are willing to be organized and make reservations are monopolizing the use here. Now with the reservation system people are coming with the program pre-planned, safer equipment, and co-ordinating departures and arrivals to suit their reservations.
The Big Dam Lake/Frozen Ocean Lake route was also extremely popular and recommended by park staff to canoeists on their first backcountry trip. It included a mix of lake and river paddling and crosses a variety of eco systems. The route required six portages totalling 2.52 kilometres (excluding Indian Point) during the low water conditions of mid summer. This reduced the number of campers with small children, those without compact light weight gear, packs or portage bags, and the number of inexperienced canoe campers. However, backpacking, sometimes in conjunction with car camping, was an enjoyable alternative to the canoe route in this area.
The southern lakes, Peskawa, Peskowesk, Lower Silver, Mountain, and Cobrielle comprised the third area for backcountry canoe camping. Canoe campers on the southern lakes were generally experienced canoeists, as well as experienced campers. By canoe, the easiest way into these lakes was the Big Hardwood portage. The eleven camp sites in this part of the park were widely dispersed, creating a feeling of isolation in a wilderness setting. Camp site 37, located between Peskawa Lake and Pebbleloggitch Lake, has a cabin which was popular in summer and winter. Visitors did enter the park through this area without the knowledge of park staff.
Jeremys Bay campground had 329 individual campsites. These were dispersed along the shore of Kejimkujik Lake and inland from Meadow Beach near Jim Charles. The campsites were similar to backcountry campsites in many respects. The well treed campsites were unserviced, each had a picnic table, a welded steel fireplace, and gravel pad for tent or trailer. Several bathrooms were conveniently located throughout the campground. Firewood was sold by the park and purchased at a store near the park entrance or was brought from home. Potable water was obtained from hydrants and garbage was collected every evening from metal containers placed conveniently throughout the site. Campsites were arranged along gravel roads in a loop design with playgrounds situated throughout. Other features included beaches, showers, and an amphitheatre. The Slapfoot Trail, a hiking and biking trail, winds along the lakeshore.
Most visitors to the park stayed in the frontcountry. Groups usually contained two to five people. There were often children, dogs, and more families than in the backcountry, however, overall men still outnumber women. The scenery, natural surroundings and tranquillity were also important to this group. They were interested in organized park activities and relaxation. Jeremys Bay campers were mobile, camping within a few feet of their automobiles. Jeremys Bay campers generally stayed in one place for the duration of their stay. The campground experience was less strenuous than the backcountry experience.
Most campground campers were repeat visitors to Jeremys Bay. Camps were carefully pitched for comfort to accommodate relaxing, sitting around the campfire, and outdoor cooking. Campers used a variety of equipment ranging from tents and tarps to trailers and RVs. A variety of types and quality of tents dominated the campground. Some were small enough for backpacking and canoe camping and others were larger models that were too heavy and bulky for backcountry use. Generally, campground campers were friendly but not intrusive, respecting each other's privacy. Although there had been some alcohol related problems in the past, new regulations and strict enforcement had discouraged this behaviour.
Frontcountry camping opportunities included three areas, each with a somewhat different personality. The oldest, The Meadow, contained 155 sites and was located behind Meadow Beach. Many of the campers in this area had been camping there for years, having developed lasting friendships with other campers. This was the only place in the park where one saw family name signs displayed. There were fewer young children and bicycles at this site.
The quietest frontcountry campground appeared to be Jim Charles. This location contained 86 newer individual sites. There were fewer trailers, tent trailers, and RVs at this site; expensive backpacking tents and canoes or kayaks appeared to be plentiful. This area also featured 10 walk-in sites.
The third camping area, Slapfoot, was `kiddies' heaven. Young children, large families, bicycles, and dogs dominated this area. The playgrounds received more use than those in the other sections. Most campers used trailers, tent trailers or RVs.
Sites in the group camping area at Jim Charles were similar to the individual sites, except that tent pads were clustered into groups around shared fireplaces. A dining shelter was provided for groups to use in inclement weather or to gather for program purposes.
Frontcountry campers selected from a variety of park programs and services within walking distance of their campsites. Walking and day hiking from the campground to Jakes Landing, Meadow Beach, Kedge Beach, and up the Mersey River were popular activities. Many children rode bicycles or played at the playgrounds. All ages walked to the beaches on warm days to swim, sun bathe or play in the sand. Interpretive and instructional programs were popular with all ages.
A wider range of activities was available a short drive from the campground. Park facilities included short and medium length trails through a variety of ecosystems. Guided interpretive walks were regularly scheduled on these trails. Self guided walks which used brochures and audio tapes were also available. Interpretive canoe outings on the Mersey River and Kejimkujik Lake were conducted, weather permitting. A variety of videos and slide shows could have be viewed at the Visitor Centre, which housed a small museum displaying indigenous flora, fauna, plants, and cultural artifacts.
Day canoeing was one of the most popular activities. Forecountry campers generally canoe in three areas: Jeremys Bay, Jakes Landing and Big Dam/Frozen Ocean. Jeremys Bay was primarily a starting point for forecountry campers who had their own canoes with them. Visitors rented canoes at the concession at Jakes Landing. A short paddle down the Mersey River lead to the islands on Kejimkujik Lake, where on any given day rising afternoon winds can create a potentially dangerous situation.
Day visitors, many of whom were local permanent or seasonal residents, used the park for recreation. Other people stayed overnight in nearby inns and took advantage of the park's natural attractions, programs and services. Kejimkujik National Park was one of several attractions frequented by Nova Scotians and out-of-province visitors alike. It was not uncommon to see bicycle tour groups, bus tours, and informal parties of international visitors roaming the park. Some of these visitors engaged in many of the same activities as did the campground campers. These people tended to stay on prepared trails, at the supervised beaches, in the Visitors Centre, and used picnic tables along major park roads. They made fewer demands on park services, generated little revenue, and had little environmental impact.
One exception to the typical day visitor was the power boat fisher. They did not engage in organized park activities or use park roads, trails, swimming beaches or the Visitors Centre. This group tended to use the western side of Kejimkujik Lake in spring, sometimes stopping for lunch at a vacant backcountry campsite. There was some conflict between power and canoeists on Kejimkujik Lake.
Resource Management and Conservation
To manage Park heritage resources to ensure their ecological integrity and the protection of features and species characteristic of the Atlantic Coast Uplands Natural Region.
To minimize human impact on the park while recognizing visitor safety and educational requirements.
To conduct and encourage selected research and monitoring of natural and cultural resources associated with the park, the ecological changes taking place, and the effects of human activities.
To co-operate with other landowners and interest groups to maintain optimal ecosystem integrity and share land use and research information.
Figure 4 Resource Management Objectives
The Kejimkujik Management Plan (1994) stated that the integrity of natural and cultural heritage was accomplished by ensuring that management decisions affecting Park resources were based on appropriate cultural resource management and ecologically-sound practices. A complex process requiring scientific innovation, effective planning, public education, enforcement of the National Parks Act and efficient operation was based on comprehensive resource management objectives (Fig 4).
High 1. Piping Plover Management
2. Archaeological Resource Protection
3. Game Fish Management
4. Blanding's Turtle Management
5. Resource Information Management
Medium 6. Grafton lake Ecological Restoration
7. Soft-Shelled Clam Management
8. Jeremys Bay Campground Rehabilitation
9. Ecosystem Biodiversity and Degradation Measurement
10. Seaside Adjunct Rare Flora Inventory
11. Transboundary Ecosystem Management
Low 12. Wilderness Campsite Rehabilitation
13. Significant Flora Management
14. Group Campground Rehabilitation
|Figure 5 Prioritized List of Resource Concerns and Problems
In 1994, the Natural Resource Management Process (1992) was used to develop a draft Ecosystem Conservation Plan. In addition to a list of prioritized resource management concerns for the Park (Figure 5), the plan identified a special concern for "Cooperative Ecological Research and Monitoring". According to the plan this concern focused on ecosystem-wide stresses such as acid rain, toxic chemicals, ozone depletion and changing weather patterns. These stresses were to be studied in cooperation with a variety of agencies, institutions and industry. The park ecologist discussed one such program:
A specialized use of the Park is by educators and students. We are part of an Environment Canada network of ecology research and monitoring stations. We hope, over time, to have a collection of data sets related to almost anything like visitor use statistics, environmental conditions, and environmental impact. The information will be made available to public schools and universities so that parks become recognized as a source of scientific information relevant to resource management and conservation.
Kejimkujik National Park was situated on an upland plateau in the interior of southwestern Nova Scotia. This region had the mildest climate in the province, and as a result supported a unique assemblage of flora and fauna. These included Blanding's Turtles, Northern Ribbon Snakes, Southern Flying Squirrels, White-footed Mice, several dragonflies, and an assortment of rare Coastal Plain plants associated with scattered lakeshores along the Atlantic Coastal Plain. These species, which at one time probably had continuous ranges through Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick and New England, had been "trapped" in southwestern Nova Scotia by receding isotherms as the climate cooled over several thousand years. The populations of these species had been isolated from their cousins for enough time to become genetically distinct. They represented an important element of genetic biodiversity, and as such deserve conservation. These "Southern Relicts" were an essential element of the park resources, in fact, their presence has had a major impact on the development of Kejimkujik National Park.
The archaeological resources of Kejimkujik National Park, particularly Mi'kmag petroglyphs, featured centrally in the development of the park. Although the most prominent petroglyphs had been protected by being officially closed to the public, they were still easily accessible and immediately adjacent to a popular day-use area along the east side of Kejimkujik Lake (Fairy Bay). Significant damage had already been done by canoeists inadvertently dragging their canoes across petroglyphs carved into the gently sloping slate shoreline.
Park staff believed that much of the environmental damage which happened in the park was a result of the increasing numbers of people who do not understand appropriate environmental behaviour. The Chief Park Warden said, "some users are unfamiliar with environmental ethics and will cut branches from trees for fire wood, carve in trees, use birch bark to start fires, and purposely or inadvertently disturb wildlife habitat."
Many of the "Southern Relicts" were also associated with lake shorelines and associated inflow rivers and brooks within the park. Like the petroglyphs, these species were in potential conflict with canoeists, back country campers and beach strollers, and were susceptible to environmental changes caused by these visitors. The species at the greatest risk included Blanding's Turtle, several species of Coastal Plain plants, and possibly the Northern Ribbon Snake.
Northern Ribbon Snakes had been recorded in Nova Scotia only at locations within and adjacent to the park. They were well separated from the main geographic range of the species, which reaches its northern limit in southern Maine. They were associated with the margins of lakes and streams, and adjacent swampy areas. They were seen only rarely, and we knew virtually nothing about their distribution, population size or special habitat requirements. It was likely that they overwinter in large communal hibernacula, to which they are probably faithful year after year. Such communal overwintering was common in Garter Snakes (to which Ribbon Snakes are close relatives) living at the northern limit of their range. Any disturbance of these sites jeopardized the entire population. Unfortunately, we did not know where these wintering sites were or even the extent of distribution of the snakes in the park in summer. Like so many species, the Ribbon Snake was a potential risk because of what we did not know about it - we may lose it before we understand it. It was difficult to protect something under these circumstances. We did not know, however, that it frequented the same kind of places that park visitors, particularly canoeists, back country campers and beach strollers, frequent.
Park staff made several comments about the need for data linking visitor information with environmental data. Decisions about user limits, restoration practice, and interpretation programs and services were all linked to the need for good scientific information. The Chief Park Interpreter commented:
Impact assessments are done on all projects, but the reality of the situation is that in many cases our own organization does not have the capability to collect the needed scientific information to evaluate the situation because we just do not have the resources.
The Coastal Plain flora was an assemblage of plant species associated with lakeshore environments along the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes. The ranges of most species in this assemblage were highly fragmented, and many of the species were rare or endangered. Several members of this assemblage reached their northern limit in southwestern Nova Scotia. They grew primarily along the edges of nutrient-poor lakes, which received sufficient disturbance from ice scour and water fluctuation to prevent colonization by shrubs. However, since these plants grow mainly right on the beach, and because they are often small, delicate and unobtrusive, they are extremely susceptible to trampling by hikers and canoeists.
A stand of one species, the Water Pennywort, was discovered near the main campground in the park, just a few meters from a heavily used lakeshore walking trail. This species had been designated as "Endangered" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC ), a national advisory body comprising federal and provincial government agencies, as well as non-government (NGO) conservation organizations. COSEWIC was charged with assessing the status of wild life (wild living plants, animals and fungi) species in Canada. Species considered at risk were designated as Vulnerable, Threatened or Endangered in order of increasing concern. Although these designations afforded species no special legal protection, they increased the public profile of species-at-risk, and the likelihood of funding availability for research on them. The Park Interpreter mentioned that, "the role of interpretation being to promote awareness, understanding and appreciation, not just hard core education about science concepts like ecosystem integrity and biodiversity."
The best known species-at-risk in Kejimkujik was the Blanding's Turtle. In fact this had become a flagship species for the park and for its conservation programmes. Ironically, of all the species-at-risk, it was probably the most vulnerable to direct and indirect disturbance from park visitors, particularly canoeists, back country campers and beach strollers.
Blanding's Turtle was not reported from Nova Scotia until 1953, when a large female was discovered at Kejimkujik Lake. This late discovery could be, in part, attributed to the shy retiring habits and low local density of the species. Despite recent searches in peripheral areas, the known range of the species in Nova Scotia remained restricted to parts of the Mersey River and Medway watersheds, and the majority of turtles were thought to reside within the Park. Construction of roads, campgrounds, parking lots and artificial beaches during the development of Kejimkujik National Park, may have influenced availability of nesting sites, distribution and seasonal movements of turtles.
Blanding's Turtle was a northern freshwater species whose geographic range was centred in the Great Lakes region. Isolated populations occurred further east in New York, Massachussetts, New Hampshire, southern Maine and Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia population was the most isolated of the known distinct populations over the entire range of the species, and is considered a relict from a warmer climatic period. Throughout its range, Blanding's Turtle was patchily distributed, especially in peripheral regions. Its range may have decreased in recent times due to loss of habitat.
Blanding's Turtles, because of their delayed sexual maturation (first breed at 15+ years of age), were vulnerable to chronic disturbances that affected the survival of both juveniles and adults. Small, peripheral populations should be especially sensitive to these disturbances. The Nova Scotia population, which was the most isolated of all extant Blanding's Turtle populations, was at particular risk.
Based on a comparison of census data from three discrete marking intervals between 1969 and 1988, the population of adult Blanding's Turtles within Kejimkujik National Park, was estimated to be only 132 (95% confidence intervals: 99.4 - 178.9, Schnabel binomial estimate). Historical and recent records showed that scattered individuals occurred outside the park. Historic changes in overall size of the Nova Scotia population were unknown. A decline in population size at Grafton Lake within the park has been attributed to dam and road construction. The dam, which was built to service a fish hatchery before the park was established, was removed and an effort was made to re-establish pre-dam water levels and to restore the inflow and outflow stream habitats that were probably important to the turtles.
In Nova Scotia, the distribution of Blanding's Turtle closely parallels that of highly coloured acid waters and peaty soils. Within these areas, the species was associated with shallow water vegetated with submergent or emergent plants, often with deep organic sediments. Mark-recapture and radio-tracking data,as well as observations of reproductive activity, showed that turtles maintain three discrete centres of activity in Kejimkujik National Park, each associated with darkly coloured rivers and streams, and the adjacent margins of Kejimkujik Lake. These include i) West River - Atkins Brook, including Glode Point and Glode Island (on the west side of Kejimkujik Lake); ii) Heber Meadow Brook and adjacent beaches between the brook and Jeremy's Bay (where the main campground is situated); and iii) Mersey River, particularly the section immediately upstream of Jake's Landing (where the canoe concession is located).
Despite this concentration, home ranges of Blanding's Turtle in this population frequently exceeded 1.5 km in at least one dimension. Nova Scotia turtles appeared to be considerably more vagile than has been reported elsewhere. Capture-mark-recapture and radiotracking data showed i) long-distance nesting migrations by females (up to 2.9 km straightline distance) and ii) range shifts involving long overland movements by some males (including three individuals moving minimum distances of 5, 8.5, and 11.5 km). This vagility made turtles vulnerable to vehicular mortality and disturbance by humans. Although the Nova Scotia population was genetically isolated from all other populations, it is probably panic. Observations of these long distance movements, as well as promiscuous mating, indicated that genetic exchange among the three sub-populations was sufficient to prevent local isolation and subsequent divergence.
The turtles became active in early April and generally moved downstream from overwintering areas by early May. Turtles on smaller streams moved to inflows of Kejimkujik Lake where most summertime activity was concentrated; on larger rivers turtles used the lake infrequently or not at all. Overwintering sites were usually located in small streams or floodplain ponds (where the animals remain submerged and inactive, but unburied) at the upstream margin of individual ranges. Onset of dormancy in fall varied among individuals, but males generally entered hibernation later than did females.
On the basis of behaviourial observations, four seasons of activity were recognized: post-emergence (early May-mid June), nesting (mid June-mid July), mating (mid July-mid November), and overwintering (mid November-late April). During post-emergence males made more long-distance (>1 km) movements than females; during nesting, females made more long-distance movements than males and travelled as much as 3 km (straight line distance) to nest.
The age structure in the sampled population was top-heavy; of 48 individuals aged, 31 exceeded 30 years. At least one individual in this population was known to have lived more than 70 years. This suggested that longevity and reproductive lifespan were extended, but that recruitment of young animals was low. Sampling bias may have accounted for the apparent absence of juveniles in the Nova Scotia population. This was commonly reported in other turtle populations. However, the under-representation of adults between age 16 and 25 was troubling. Individuals in these latter two age classes were sexually mature and the females, at least, should be encountered at nesting beaches. If this absence was real, rather than apparent, it seemed likely that the age structure in this population was unstable.
Most turtles in the Kejimkujik population nest on cobble lakeshore beaches, primarily at two sites: i) Glode Point/ Glode Island (west side of Kejimkujik Lake), and ii) Heber Meadow (between mouth of Heber Meadow Brook and Jeremy's Bay). A small number of nests were also laid in gravel road shoulders, particularly near the junction of the main park road and the road to Jeremy's Bay. Nesting occurred during the last three weeks of June, usually between dusk and midnight. Females emerged from the water, excavated a nest on the upper beach and deposited approximately 10 eggs. If they were disturbed during the first half of nesting, they will abandon their attempt. If undisturbed, the nest was then buried, and the female returned to the water. If the nest survived, after a three month incubation period, the eggs hatched. Hatchlings emerged from the nest during September and October.
Reproductive potential of the species in Nova Scotia was apparently compromised by i) the limited availability of suitable nesting areas (appropriate substrate and exposure, low susceptibility to flooding), and ii) low egg and hatchling survivorship (due to raccoon predation, flooding and a short incubation season). Raccoons were the most important predators of eggs of Blanding's Turtle in Nova Scotia. Although accurate estimates of predation rate are unavailable, most protected nests (all Blanding's beaches are patrolled by wardens nightly during nesting season, and all Blanding's nests were covered with a protective screen to prevent predation) showed signs of attempted predation; and it appears that many unprotected nests of all three species resident in the park (Blanding's Turtle, Snapping Turtle and Painted Turtle) were destroyed on the night they were laid. Nesting habitat of the Nova Scotia population was distributed along edges (beaches, roadsides), and predation rates in such linear habitats could be relatively high. This was exacerbated by the artificially high raccoon populations in the park which were sustained by human activity, especially disposal of food wastes near campgrounds.
The Nova Scotia population of Blanding's Turtle was recently designated by COSEWIC as "Threatened" for two major reasons: 1) the population occurs at the northeastern limit of the species range in a restricted area long isolated from other populations; and 2) the population is small, with an apparently unstable age structure due partially to artificially increased predation pressure, primarily from raccoons.
Among North American freshwater turtles, the Blanding's Turtle had one of the most latitudinally compressed ranges. Both the northern and southern limits of the species appeared to be constrained by temperature. Therefore the species appeared to have a relatively narrow range of temperature tolerance. In Nova Scotia, the population was restricted to an inland plateau characterised by the highest cumulative heat units in the province. It was likely that only the few beaches that were used for nesting accumulated sufficient heat for eggs to hatch before winter. The species' limited physiological tolerance, in combination with its long generation time (33-35 years), limits the potential adaptive responses of Blanding's Turtle to environmental change. For example, measurable climatic change may occur within the lifetime of an individual turtle. Adaptive responses to such changes would thus have been largely behaviourial rather than genetic. Although turtles in general were not noted for their behaviourial plasticity, Blanding's Turtle had shown that it could adapt to locally changing availability of nesting substrate. This included the use of artificial nesting sites both in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. However, the combination of impacts from increasing visitor populations and global warming may be more than Blanding's Turtles can withstand.
The cultural and natural resources at Kejimkujik National Park were protected and managed, in part, by a sound and well-administered law enforcement program. An enforcement plan based on a nationally approved format, but specific to Kejimkujik, was updated yearly. It integrated the needs and management objectives for the visitor service and resource conservation administrative units in the park and addressed additional procedures. These procedures included such things as hazard assessment, risk management and ecosystem management.
The Park Management Plan stated that recent revisions to the National Parks Act, as well as funding through the Federal Green Plan to support new enforcement initiatives, indicated just how vital this responsibility is. Accordingly, the enforcement role would have had to be tailored to have met changing conditions and needs. The Chief Park Warden stated:
The link between enforcing appropriate human activity and resource management is historical, stemming from the days when the park warden rode on horseback to remote areas of Canada's parks to assist people and monitor the natural resource. However, there is a more recent trend to have specialized assignments thereby distinguishing between responsibilities like enforcement and resource inventory.
Some issues arose as a result of this dual responsibility in a small park like Kejimkujik. The resource conservation section of the Warden Service was responsible for public safety and law enforcement, as well as resource management. A Park Warden said:
As more and more of the load for enforcement falls on resource conservation people, it takes away from resource monitoring. In the end we get stretched more and more in terms of trying to do good science. Long term monitoring and tracking of trends, in order to make sound resource management decisions, are jeopardized by the need for day to day campground security, patrolling for drunks and vandalism, speeding, and environmental impact.
Kejimikujik was marketed as a quiet pristine wilderness preserve that was accessible to people with low skill levels, who wished to get safely into the backcountry. A member of the Warden Services staff commented that there was a trend toward what the Park staff called the `urbanized visitor'. Several employees commented on these visitors, collectively describing them as generally less knowledgeable about outdoor recreation and the environment, demonstrating inappropriate visitor and environmental etiquette, and requiring increased monitoring for safety and backcountry regulatory policies. Consequently, there was an impact on park resources. For example, an increase in litter resulted in an increase in scavenger populations, which in turn resulted in the need to make difficult resource management decisions about whether to kill, move, or sterilize the scavengers; or to enforce tighter garbage regulations. Each alternative held implications for Warden Service employees. One Park employee commented, "there is danger if everything is geared toward camper needs because we need to make money from them."
Kejimkujik was already experiencing an increase in the occurrence of rescues, assists, serious complaints and some vandalism. Most Park staff believed that this was due to increasing numbers of inexperienced visitors. The Chief of Visitor Services indicated:
Responses to these issues include public education initiatives such as canoe clinics, regulations posted in outhouses installed at backcountry campsites, visitor day limits in the backcountry, stepping up the number of warning tickets issued, and a $385 liquor fine. However, each of these strategies increased stress on a Warden Service that is already responsible for collecting weather data, observing fire conditions, monitoring insects, patrolling campgrounds and backcountry, and often performing the duties of front line public relations officers.
Public safety was the responsibility of every park employee. However, the Chief Park Warden was responsible for the development and implementation of a public safety plan. This document outlined the levels of service for managing risk. The Canadian Parks Service suggested a rationalized decision framework (VRMF) which provided the structure for visitor safety programs. One objective of the VRMF was to enhance visitor safety program management by strengthening current programs and integrating with them. The main intent of the framework was to address the needs of visitors, the mandate of the CPS, and Canadian Law. Appendix 2 included a figure that described the relationship of the VRMF with other management important processes.
Environmental Hazards are elements of a field operations natural or cultural environment, such as bears, cliffs or historic resources.
Infrastructure Hazards are either facilities such as trails, buildings and roads; or services of recreational guide or recreation-oriented rental concessions provided on CPS properties.
Visitor Characteristic Hazards are associated with the qualities that make up a person or behaviour and may include the use of alcohol or drugs, degree of preparedness, group leadership or dangerous behaviour.
Figure 6 Possible Public Safety Hazards
Proposed assessment and risk control guidelines (VRMF) indicated that risk assessment was done on all appropriate and prohibited public activities occurring within a field operation. Preventable or controllable hazards fell into three broad categories. Figure 6 provided examples of possible hazards within each of these categories.
It was clear that every aspect of the park operation was concerned with public safety and that public safety was one issue that emerged in the debate over resource use and resource conservation, and the need to generate income. The Chief of Visitor Services commented:
Public perception has always been that the dollars generated in the park stay in the park. The public does not realize that we are limited by budget when they've requested more work, more brochures, and more emergency service. If it is decided that the cost of all services benefitting the user only, instead of the general public, should be cost recovered, then the public should know where that money is going. If a high proportion of the budget goes toward public services rather than resource conservation, then the voting public needs to make some decisions.
The Chief Park Interpreter noted the inter-relatedness of the system:
If we need to encourage increased visitor use to generate revenue, we must realize that additional people will increase impact on resources, the demand on enforcement, the frequency and breadth of safety issues, the need for good science, and the demand for education in shoulder seasons, all at the same time as human resources are shrinking. As we think about the alternates for revenue generation, we need to realize that more people means the resource conservation load will increase, the demand on enforcement will increase, safety issues will increase and broaden, effectiveness of the scientific program will decrease, demand for education in shoulder seasons will increase and become more difficult because human resource availability is seasonally linked, and around and around we go!
Parks Canada Allowable Outdoor Recreation Activities
Visitor Risk Management's Relationship
With Other Management Processes
Checklist of Appropriate Activity Assessment Criteria