Canada's PM announces new national park

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

NORMAN WELLS, N.W.T. - Canada is getting a new national park in the wilds of the Northwest territories.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially announced the establishment of the Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve on Wednesday.

"This is a spectacular place for a national park," Harper said while visiting the site Tuesday.

This new park enlarges the protected region already expanded in 2007, when the government added land to the Nahanni National Park Reserve, which now spans 30,000 square kilometres.

It was two years in the making, and negotiations were done in collaboration with the Sahtu Dene and Metis people in the region.

Still, locals can be wary of the creation of a new park because it can hamper economic development of a region. No hunting is allowed in national parks.

The park land is a habitat for grizzly bear and caribou and will protect the headwaters of the South Nahanni river.

The prime minister landed in the Northwest Territories Tuesday night, after spending the first two days of his annual multi-day Arctic summer tour in the Yukon.

It was there he focused on the natural resource rush in the isolated northern territories, boasting it would drive unprecedented economic development in the next five years.

Conservationists have raised concerns about the speed of development, warning it may damage the northern environment.

That's not the only environmental concern. U.S. Climate scientists projected this week that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is likely to shrink to a record small size this month - and continue melting.

Following the visit to the Northwest Territories, Harper intends to visit Cambridge Bay in Nunavut.

- with files from Reuters


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