Muskwa-Kechika Park

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"Muskwa-Kechika, the Northern Rockies provincial land use protection area."

with Barry M. Thornton

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Without question, the clown in this expansive mountainous land is the caribou. It was a rare day that we did not see one or more of these camel-gaited animals. Prancing, leaping, and gambolling with head tossedback - this is my fondest memory of this most adaptable of our northern deer. Mosquitoes and biting flies were ever present and these minute pests constantly kept the caribou on the move. It seemed that the caribou's only escape from these biting insects was on the few remaining snowpacks where the cool wind would flush the flies away.

In many rock strewn areas there would be chipmunks, a close second to the caribou for their clowning antics. These small stripped animals were often tame enough to eat out of our hands, then scurry back to the protection of logs, trees or rocks. I can remember spending a full afternoon watching one unrelenting and persistent chipmunk try to get a single berry from the end of a branch. The berry was secure to the tip and just above the highest leap of the chipmunk. He spent an incredible amountof energy leaping up to grab that berry; then, he tried climbing the limb only to have it bend down with his weight. Upon touching the ground, he would let go and of course the limb would spring back out of range.Finally, after some hours he took a flying leap from a flat shale stone, grabbed the berry, which still held on the branch, then bounced up and down a few times until the berry finally broke away in his paws. He then scampered off to some hideaway with his prize while I clapped at his tenacious effort and success.

Mountain goats with their pure white shaggy coats are visible from almost any location. But, it must be remembered that your vista is wide and vast. Stone sheep are more rare but they are there in ram groups or ewe and lamb flocks.

All streams in the Muskwa-Kechika are a part of the Arctic watershed and therefore have grayling and whitefish. Grayling have a distinctive massive dorsal fin which glistens in blues and purples like phosphorous in saltwater kelp fronds. They readily rise to a cast black fly pattern.

The Muskwa-Kechika is truly a cornucopia of wildlife with an unparalleled vista. My congratulations go to Premier Clark and all those who have worked so hard to provide this gift for those in the next millennium!

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© Copyright Barry M. Thornton

Barry M. Thornton

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Muskwa-Kechika Park