This park was identified for protection in the West Kootenay-Boundary Land-Use Plan.
The park protects important First Nations cultural values, such as the archaeological sites situated along the lake shore. Important heritage values are associated with railway development and sternwheeler ships.
The park contains a diverse range of habitats from lakeshore to subalpine. It protects high-elevation forests and alpine areas. West Arm Park features old-growth forests, internationally significant habitat for grizzly bear and for a mountain caribou recovery program. The park protects important watersheds, which supply the city of Nelson with water.
The area was protected for its biodiversity value as the natural habitat for several endangered species while also protecting Nelson’s water source.