Atna Lake was first labelled on George Dawson’s 1879 Geological Survey map “British Columbia and the Northwest Territory from the Pacific Ocean to Fort Edmonton.” Atna River Park was established as a class A park in July 2008.
The park is one of seven new parks and protected areas resulting from the Morice Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) and associated government to government discussions with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.
Atna River Park is located within the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. Known as the “people of the lower drainage” the Wet’suwet’en have been living in this part of the continent since time immemorial. Within the Wet’suwet’en territory, Atna River Park lies in the C’iniggit Nenikëkh house territory in the house of Yextsowiten (Thin House) that belongs to the Gilseyhyu (Big Frog) clan.
Mt. Loring (Leez Be’h) was utilized in times of need by all Wet’suwet’en clans and the Gitxsan to harvest Hoary Marmot and Caribou. C’iniggit Nenikëkh house territory played a critical role for the Wet’suwet’en and is known as “Common Basket”. This area is known to be very productive for resources and remains important to the Wet’suwet’en today.
Atna River Park is significant in the parks and protected areas system because it:
- Protects a pristine ecosystem transitional between the coast and interior, including regionally rare old growth coastal forest and wetland ecosystems.
- Significantly contributes to the protection of the moist cool subzone of the Engelmann spruce subalpine fir biogeoclimatic subzone.
- Protects a tributary of the Morice River, a provincially significant salmon and steelhead river.
- Protects important grizzly bear and mountain goat habitat, sockeye salmon spawning areas and whitebark pine ecosystems.
- Protects a remote pristine wilderness.
- Protects part of a much larger park complex that includes Morice Lake and Nenikëkh/Nanika-Kidprice parks.
- Protects part of the C’iniggit Nenikëkh house territory, which is known as “Common Basket” and which played a critical role for the Wet’suwet’en.
Atna River Park provides important habitat for wildlife that live in and around the park. Atna River Park contains moderate to high value grizzly bear summer and fall habitat and high quality mountain goat winter range. The park lies within the Caribou Habitat Management Area as identified in the Morice LRMP. The low pass (1200 m) at the southwest end of the park provides an important wildlife corridor to the Kemano, Dala and Kildala river valleys in the Coast Range, and the low pass between Atna Lake and the Gosnell River is an important travel corridor for wildlife at the northern end of the park.
The Atna River contains sockeye and coho salmon, lake trout, Dolly Varden and whitefish and Atna Lake provides important beach spawning habitat for sockeye salmon.