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The Muskwa-Kechika, also known as the Northern Rockies Wilderness, is a unique combination of protected regions and areas zoned for development. There are 11 new protected areas within Muskwa-Kechika encompassing one million hectares (2.5 million acres). These areas are surrounded by more than three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of Special Management Zones (SMZs). In these SMZs some development will occur, but only in a way that is sensitive to the area's environmental qualities, including wildlife and their habitat. The Muskwa-Kechika, combined with existing parks in the area, safeguards a vast 8 million hectares (19 million acres) of wilderness in the Northern Rockies region.


Each of the 11 protected areas in the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area is unique and contains its own special features. While some protected areas, such as Redfern-Keily, are comparatively small, others like Dune Za Keyih are among the larger protected areas in British Columbia. Read on for information on some of the Muskwa-Kechika's key protected areas:

Denetiah - 97, 600 hectares (240,000 acres):
This area is a component of a large intact predator-prey system. It has provincially significant wildlife values including moose, caribou, Stone's sheep, mountain goats, wolves and grizzly bears. Recreation activities in this area include big game hunting, fishing, canoeing, rafting, wildlife viewing and hiking. Special features of the area are the Dall and Denetiah Lakes, with the intact Denetiah watershed and the historic Davie Trail from Fort Ware to Lower Post. The area also has historical value and is currently used by the Kaska Dena First Nation.

Liard River Corridor - 90,450 hectares (223,000 acres):
The Liard River Corridor is located adjacent to the Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park northwest of Nelson. Special features in the area include archaeological sites, fossils, old growth spruce, significant grizzly habitat, a wood bison population and significant cultural and heritage values related to traditional native activities and fur trading dating back to the early 1800s. Recreational values along the river are high with opportunities for hunting, wildlife viewing, fishing and caving. Very limited road access.

Northern Rocky Mountains - 645,000 hectares (1,600,000 acres):
This is the largest of all protected areas in the Muskwa-Kechika Area and one of the largest in BC. The northern part of the area runs along the Alaska highway but road access is restricted to maintain its natural state. Spectacular geological formations, escarpments and chevron folds can be found on Sleeping Chief Mountain, Mount Sylvia and Mount Mary Henry. Other features include significant wetlands, areas of old growth forests and a high density and diversity of large mammal species. The area has historic value and is currently used by First Nations.

Wokkpash - 37,300 hectares (92,000 acres):
This existing Recreation Area located west of Fort Nelson has attained international significance due to its unique geographical features including: the Wokkpash Gorge which has hoodoos up to 30 metres in height along its five-kilometre length; Forlorn Gorge, a narrow cleft 150 metres deep and 25 metres wide; Fusillier Glacier; and Stepped Lakes. The Wokkpash is a traditional use area for First Nations. There are excellent opportunities for recreation such a hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, fishing, horseback riding and hunting.


The Muskwa-Kechika Management Area encompasses one of the largest wilderness expanses on the continent, and supports exceptional wildlife populations in terms of numbers and species diversity. It also provides range for one of the largest predator-prey system in North America. Carnivores in the Muskwa-Kechika such as grizzly and black bears, wolves, wolverine, and lynx prey upon large ungulates including caribou, Stone sheep, bison, mountain goat, moose, elk, and mule and white-tailed deer. The area provides a prime example of an interactive predator-prey relationship, an important connection between species that is fast disappearing worldwide.

The landscapes in this spectacularly beautiful area range from dramatic rocky summits over 2,500 meters (8200 ft) high where spectacular glaciers drape the peaks, to wide alpine valleys and tundra where wildlife roam free, living without the constant interference of man.

"The Muskwa-Kechika region encompasses one of the largest wilderness expanses on the continent."


The two nearest towns to the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area are Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, which lie along the Alaska Highway. The Muskwa-Kechika is approximately 90 km (55 mi) southwest of Fort Nelson. Old telephone and hydro lines provide limited access from the east, but most people travel the local rivers or fly in. Local guide-outfitters also provide backcountry trips into the area.

Click on the map to view an enlargement


The Muskwa-Kechika offers chances for camping, backcountry hiking, rafting, canoeing, fishing, hunting, photography, and nature appreciation. There are approximately 65 campsites, with fire pits and user made latrines, at the mouth of the Tuchodi River. Most of the area's existing trails have been established by hunting guides to connect the park's major lakes, Chesterfield, Haworth, and Quentin, and are not maintained. This means that wilderness navigation skills are essential.

Some of the most popular recreational locations within the Management Area include Liard River, Liard Hotsprings, Muncho Lake, and Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park. These areas each have their own appeal: Liard Hotsprings are a soothing stop for visitors to the area, and their natural, uncommercial nature is an unusual treat; Muncho Lake is a lovely, cold lake often visited by Stone sheep; Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park is where most visitors access Muskwa-Kechika.

"SMZs are used to provide buffers between human society and wilderness. They also enable us to create wildlife corridors which link many wilderness areas together. "

The creation of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area is a significant step towards protecting an important region that will allow animals to move back and forth throughout the Northern Rockies. This unlogged roadless wilderness in northeastern British Columbia spans 50 watersheds, and is home to an abundance and diversity of large mammals including elk, moose, wolves, grizzly and black bears, Stone sheep and Mountain goats, cougars, and wolverine. Furbearing animals such as squirrel, mink, weasel, marten, lynx, and beaver are also abundant here. This Park and Special Management Area complex contains the habitat of at least 70 species of birds including the endangered Connecticut warbler, the sharp-tailed sparrow, and the upland sandpiper. Lucky visitors may spot a golden eagle searching for Siberian lemmings.
The large wildlife populations here are exceptional. Muskwa-Kechika is home to an estimated 2,600 caribou, 15,000 elk, 22,000 moose, 3,500 black and grizzly bears, 7,000 Stone sheep, and 1,000 wolves. The only Plains bison population in the province also resides here.

"The size of this region and its extraordinary numbers of wildlife make the creation of Muskwa-Kechika of global significance."


Along with Spatsizi and Tatshenshini, the Muskwa-Kechika area has long been recognized as one of BC's prime wildlife areas, first proposed as a protected area in the 1960s. As with Spatsizi and the other great parks in the north, it took many years before southern British Columbians became aware of the campaign and rallied to the cause. It wasn't until the 1990s, when a government land use planning process was well advanced in BC, that attention was placed on the Muskwa-Kechika area. The BC government established two Land and Resource Planning Tables in 1993 to develop land-use plans that would ensure economic security for local communities, while protecting the most important natural areas in northeast BC.

In response, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) galvanized a strong campaign linking together 20 organizations, including naturalists, guide-outfitters, environmentalists, and the public, in order to protect the wildlife of this very special region. Their success not only created the huge Northern Rocky Mountains Park, but also managed to surround and augment this park with an extensive Special Management Zone (SMZ), covering approximately 1.2 million ha (3 million acres).

SMZ are vitally important for the protection of parks. Without them parks become islands, surrounded by development, and unable to protect the wildlife and biodiversity within them. SMZs are used to provide buffers between human society and wilderness. They also enable wildlife corridors to be created, linking many wilderness areas together, and providing animals with the room they need to migrate, hunt, and exchange genes with other wildlife populations. In the case of Muskwa-Kechika, 11 parks and protected areas were linked together to form the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, which was formally created in 1998. The size of this region and its extraordinary numbers of wildlife make the creation of Muskwa-Kechika of global significance.

The creation of Muskwa-Kechika is a significant step towards protecting important habitat that will allow animals to move back and forth throughout the Northern Rockies.

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