Entiako Provincial Park

History

Tweedsmuir Park was established in 1938 and originally included the Entiako area. In 1956, the park boundaries were revised and the Entiako area was no longer protected. In the 1980s forest harvesting was deferred from most of the Entiako area until studies on caribou winter habitat requirements could be completed. In 1991 the Entiako Land and Resource Use Plan was started to address the caribou habitat and forest harvesting conflict. After 2 years, this responsibility was taken on by the newly initiated Vanderhoof Land and Resource Management Plan and the Lakes Land and Resource Management Plan. Over 48,261 hectares of park was designated in 1999 under the Vanderhoof LRMP and 73,268 hectares of protected area were designated in 2000 under the Lakes LRMP.

Cultural Heritage

Entiako Park lies with the Ulkatcho Traditional Use Area, while the northern portion of Entiako Park lies within the Cheslatta Carrier Land Claim.

Historically, there were likely 1,500 First Nations people living in the areas around Tetachuk and Eutsuk Lakes, with a major village site near the Redfern Rapids. They relied on caribou and fish for food and used fire to increase berry production. The area of Entiako Park was likely used mainly during the snow-free period for hunting and fishing.

The first European contact in west-central BC occurred in the 1700s by boat and by land. They brought new tools, diseases and the fur trades to the area with great impacts on the local First Nations. Both the Carrier and Ulkatcho spent more time during the winter trapping for fur in the plateau of Entiako Park. In 1838 a small pox epidemic wiped out a large portion of the First Nations people, with several other epidemics to follow into the early 1900s.

When the Kenney dam was constructed, several village sites, seasonal camps and trails were flooded. The Bella Coola trail, which runs from Aslin Creek in Entiako Park to the village site of Ulkatcho to Bella Coola, was an important trade route for coastal and interior First Nations until it was flooded, cutting off communications between groups.

Several of the place names in the Entiako area are based on the traditional names given to them by First Nations people. The following is a sample of some of the local places, and their meaning in the Carrier language:
Natalkuz Lake Lake of small winds
Entiako Lake Lake with a rusty creek

En = Lake
Ko = River
Euchu Lake – First Lake
Tetachuk Lake – Sick water
Capoose Lake – Bald part of mountain where no trees grow.

Conservation

Entiako Park is located within the Nazko Upland, Bulkley Basin and Nechako Upland Ecosections. The majority of the protected area is Sub Boreal Pine Spruce biogeoclimatic zone with Lodgepole pine-dominated stands of 40 to 200 years old.

One blue-listed plant, two-coloured sedge, is found within the park. There are also several rare plant communities and several species of lichens that are potentially rare.

Lichens are abundant in the park where the cold and dry growing conditions are inhospitable and most plant species are unable to survive. Terrestrial lichens are the primary winter forage for the Woodland caribou in the area (see wildlife section).

Wildlife

Entiako Park is the winter home for the Tweedsmuir-Entiako caribou population. Prior to the 1900s, caribou were found throughout British Columbia. In the early 1900s, the caribou population around the province began declining. Caribou have been declared “threatened” in the Southern Mountains National Ecological Area by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and today the Tweedsmuir-Entiako herd is one of only three caribou populations found in west central BC. In the Entiako area, several factors may have influenced the decline of caribou numbers. The construction of the Kenney Dam in the early 1950s restricted the movements and migration of the herd, and some caribou drowned attempting to cross new bodies of water to their usual habitats. In the 1970s harvesting began in the area, which may have disturbed and fragmented their habitat range, while over-hunting also played a factor during this time. Today the Tweedsmuir-Entiako herd is estimated at 400 individuals.

Predator-prey relationships exist in the Entiako between caribou, moose, grizzly bears and wolves. Other wildlife in the park includes black bears, coyotes, lynx, red fox, river otter, mink, marten, beaver, muskrat, red squirrels and many more. Along with grizzly bears, wolverine, fisher and trumpeter swan are blue listed animals found in the park.

With the Kenney dam on the Nechako River, no sea-run salmon population are found above it. Landlocked sockeye or kokanee do occur in the park as well as rainbow trout, lake trout, mountain whitefish, northern pikeminnow, longnose sucker, large-scale sucker, lake chub and prickly sculpin. Bull trout, a blue-listed species, may also occur.