Waterton National Park

Posted in Europe | March 13, 2010 | Comment Now

The Waterton National Park was created in the year 1895. It is spread across 140 square kilometers. The park is fourth of its kind in Canada and one of the smallest in the Canadian Rockies. The size of the park has varied over the year. Presently, it occupies 505 square kilometers of land.

There have been an increasing number of recommendations to include the Waterton lakes in the park area. This has been done mainly to ensure conservation. The park gets its name from the lakes. The chain of lakes was named by Lieutenant Blakiston in honor of British naturalist, Squire Charles Waterton.

Waterton National Park is representative of the southern Rocky Mountains Natural Region. Here, the ancient Rocky Mountains meet the prairie lands. The landscape has been altered by wind, fire, and flooding.

The park is part of a unique ecosystem offering myriad physical, biological, and cultural resources. The ecosystem comprises one of the narrowest places of the chain of Rocky Mountains. This makes the position of the national park very important.

Waterton comprises many ecological regions. The prairie vegetation of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain plants of the northern areas overlap with the coastal plants from the Pacific Northwest. The park is home to more than 45 habitat types, including grasslands, shrubs, wetlands, spruce-fir, pine and aspen forests. The variety of plants is not proportionate to the area. Besides 1000 vascular plant species, there are 182 bryophytes and 218 lichen species. Most of these are rare and on the verge of extinction. Nearly half of the plant species in Alberta can be found in Waterton.

The park is home to nearly 60 species of mammals. There are also 250 species of birds, 24 of fish, and 10 of reptiles and amphibians. Wolf, coyote, cougar, grizzly bear, and American black bear are the famous predators of the region. The grasslands are home to elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. The season of fall sees the usage of marsh and lake areas by migrating ducks, swans, and geese. Some of the rarer species include trumpeter swans, Vaux’s swifts, and vagrant shrews.

Waterton National Park is important globally because of its many designations. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is designed as a symbol of peace between the United States and Canada. It has now evolved into a symbol for cooperation. Both parks are designed to protect the ecosystem with the help of shared management.

In 1995, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park has been granted world heritage status due to its distinctive climate, mountain-prairie interface, physiographic setting, and tri-ocean hydrographical divide. The flora and fauna are abundant.

The two historic sites within the park include the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site and Lineham Discovery Well National Historic Site.

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