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Nature News
by Marlene Harris

Winter 2001   —   New Provincial Park for Northern Quebec

The National Post reported (last fall) that the Quebec government was, at that time, to endorse creation of the province’s first provincial park in the Far North. Located 1800 km north of Montreal, the proposed park site is a crater, created over one million years ago, as a result of a meteor, estimated to have been 8500 times more explosive than the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima. The crater today is approximately 3½ km around and contains some of the purest water on Earth.

The area has been studied since the ‘60s and the findings have shown that the formation, almost completely symmetrical, encloses a lake of tasteless, colorless absolutely pure water, low in mineral and organic content. The lake is more or less a closed basin, renewing its water only about once every 330 years.

This crater was known only to the Inuit of the region until the ‘40s when pilots began spotting the remarkable site. Otherwise, the site has sat in splendid isolation. Until now. Public hearings were scheduled (according to the Post article) in November in the tiny Inuit community nearest the crater. Issues were to include proposed routes into the park, setting borders, etc. And as the site is located close to Falconbridge's Raglan nickel mine, within a mineral–rich area, the residents would have to decide if they were willing to give up on future development for conservation.

Although the focus of the park would be the crater, there are other interesting points including a 45 km long river canyon, home to gyrfalcons, peregrine falcons and rough–legged hawks, and the "Great Lakes Necklace" of lakes joined by waterways and falls; there is also a series of hills known as the East Fringe Hills. Lemming, caribou, fox and an occasional muskox can be seen and botanists have found over 120 species of vegetation.

The terrain is incredibly rugged and the climate, harsh. Snow can fall anytime, wind and fog are common, and even in summer, the average temperature is only about 5 degrees C. Even so, within two years, the park could be ready to receive its first (hardy) visitors.

(Nothing has been reported on this proposed park since the fall, just prior to the public hearings. It would be interesting to know just what happened and if the proposal was accepted.)

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