TATSHENSHINI-ALSEK PARK or TATSHENSHINI-ALSEK PROVINCIAL WILDERNESS
PARK is a provincial park in British Columbia,
Canada 9,580 km2 (3,700
sq mi). It was established in 1993 after an intensive campaign by
Canadian and American conservation organizations to halt mining
exploration and development in the area, and protect the area for its
strong natural heritage and biodiversity values.
The park is situated in the very northwestern corner of British
Columbia, bordering the American state of
Alaska and the Canadian
Yukon Territory . It nestles between Kluane
National Park and Reserve
Yukon and Glacier Bay the obstructed river formed a large
temporary lake upstream of the blockage. A wall of water 7 m (23 ft)
high and 15 m (49 ft) wide swept an entire Tutchone village into the
sea at Dry Bay, killing all the inhabitants.
Tatshenshini-Alsek was one of the last areas of
British Columbia to
be mapped and explored. In the 1960s the first geological exploration
for minerals took place in the area. Significant copper deposits were
found in the vicinity of Windy Craggy Mountain, in the middle of the
Tatshenshini region. In the mid-1970s two companies began rafting the
Tatshenshini (aka "the Tat", a term also used to refer to the region)
and Alsek rivers for the first time. In the mid-1980s a proposal
surfaced to develop Windy Craggy peak into a huge open-pit mine.
In 1991 Tatshenshini International was established, linking together
the top 50 conservation organisations in North America. An extremely
intensive campaign followed in
Canada and in the United States,
U.S. Congress and eventually the
White House , when
the active involvement of then Vice-President
Al Gore was enlisted.
Eventually, BC Premier
Mike Harcourt responded by undertaking a review
of the issues surrounding Tatshenshini-Alsek by the Commission on
Resources and the Environment (CORE). BC government under Premier
Harcourt decided in June 1993 to protect Tatshenshini-Alsek as a Class
A park. The owners of the Windy-Craggy mineral claims were given a
$103.8 million settlement.
In combination with the adjoining national parks, this completed
protection of the world's largest international park complex. The
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (
IUCN ) proposed
the area for protection as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. The
Kluane-Wrangell-St. Elias-Glacier Bay-Tatshenshini-Alsek
transfrontalier park system comprising Kluane , Wrangell-St Elias ,
Glacier Bay and Tatshenshini-Alsek parks, was declared a
Heritage Site in 1994 for the spectacular glacier and icefield
landscapes, in addition to the importance of its habitat for grizzly
bears , caribou and
Dall sheep .
In 1999, a party of sheep hunters found artifacts and remains of a
young male at the foot of a glacier in the park; he was later called
Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi , or "Long Ago Man Found". The well-preserved
frozen body turned out to be between 300 and 550 years old.
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations were consulted
for this find on their historic territory, and they named the young
man. In addition, they agreed to scientific and
DNA testing of the
remains. Researchers recruited volunteers to see if people could be
found who were genetically related to the "iceman". Some 241
volunteers were tested from the area Champagne and Aishihik First
Nations, and related peoples in Yukon,
British Columbia and Alaska.
Seventeen living relatives, including two sisters, were found in the
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations who are related through a
mitochondrial DNA match of the direct female line. Fifteen of these
17 identify as
Wolf clan , suggesting the young man also belonged to
that clan. In the matrilineal kinship system, children are considered
born into their mother's clan, and descent is figured through the
The Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers flow through the park in
glacier-carved U-shaped valleys. These valleys through the coastal
mountains allow cool, moist ocean air into the cold interior. The
quick change from ocean to interior environment, frequent floods,
landslides and avalanches, a varied geology and great elevation
changes have together created an exceptionally diverse range of
Tatshenshini-Alsek Park supports a large grizzly bear population. A
green area that cuts through a barrier of mountain and ice connects
coastal and interior grizzly bear populations and provides a perfect
habitat. The park is the only Canadian home of the glacier bear . This
extremely rare blue-grey colour phase of the black bear is found only
within the park and just over the border into the United States.
As well as bears,
Tatshenshini-Alsek Park also supports Dall\'s sheep
, and exceptional numbers of mountain goats , Kenai moose , grey
wolves , eagles (bald and golden ), falcons (peregrine and gyr ), and
trumpeter swans .
Along the coastline, sea lions and humpback whales can be seen.
Alsek Ranges are situated there and
Mount Fairweather , at 4,671
metres (15,325 ft) is the province’s highest peak. The
Tatshenshini-Alsek area lies in a region of high earthquake activity.
Slippages along the Fairweather and Hubbard/Boarder Faults to the west
Denali Fault to the north cause regular quakes.
Alaska Boundary Dispute
* Global Transboundary Protected Areas
* Great Wild Spaces
* Great Canadian Parks
* ^ "Scientists find 17 living relatives of \'iceman\' discovered
in B.C. glacier".
CBC News . 25 April 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
* ^ Judith Lavoie, Canwest News Service, "Iceman\'s DNA Linked To
Coastal Aboriginals (Canada)", Leader Post, 26 April 2008, accessed 5