Questions and answers on the phased re-opening of National Wildlife Areas due to COVID-19

When are National Wildlife Areas re-opening?

Some publicly accessible national wildlife areas will begin reopening on June 1, 2020 with access to trails and some facilities.

Until then all locations remain closed.

Full resumption of operations and services will follow a phased approach and will be dependent on advice from local and regional health authorities.

For information on the status of the national wildlife area near you.

What facilities will open at Environment and Climate Change Canada places on June 1?

Being in nature provides important physical and mental health benefits. During this first phase of our reopening, trails, parking lots and washroom facilities will be open.

Our website provides information on what locations are open, what visitors can expect, how to prepare for your visit and what services may be available.

Visitors are asked to plan ahead by checking the website before they travel.

Opening dates and the service offer at our publically accessible National Wildlife Areas may vary based on regional preparedness and the advice of provincial health authorities.

Will all of the day use visitor facilities be open at all Environment and Climate Change Canada places?

Environment and Climate Change Canada has responsibilities for 55 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries across Canada. Ten of our National Wildlife Areas are part of the Connecting Canadians to Nature initiative and are accessible to the public. A number of other sites are publically accessible, largely for autonomous day-use activities.

Preparations to re-open may take more time at some locations. There may also be slightly different measures in place for limiting the spread of COVID-19 in different jurisdictions. This means that visitor access, services, and opening dates may vary across the country.

Visitors should not expect the kind of experience that they have had in the past. Environment and Climate Change Canada is adapting to the COVID-19 situation and visitor access and services will be limited. 

Visitors are asked to plan ahead by checking the website before they travel.

 

Why aren’t all National Wildlife Areas being re-opened at the same time?

Some of our locations will remain closed until further notice, depending on the specific health and public safety circumstances and guidance in each province. Environment and Climate Change Canada is planning to re-open its publically accessible National Wildlife Areas in jurisdictions that have also re-opened their parks and protected areas.

We continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

Please refer to our web page for the latest information.

Will trails at Environment and Climate Change Canada places be open?

Visitors will be permitted to access some trails, day use areas, and green spaces. Those who choose to access open trails must obey all signage and closures. They must follow the advice of public health experts on things like hand hygiene and physical distancing. They must also be careful in their choices to avoid injury and minimize any need for emergency response. They must leave no trace and remove their garbage.

Visitors should not expect the kind of experience that they have had in the past. Environment and Climate Change Canada is adapting to the COVID-19 situation and visitor access and services will be limited.

Some trails at Environment and Climate Change Canada locations will remain closed for public safety, for the protection of ecological or cultural resources, because of human-wildlife interaction concerns, or limited search and rescue capacity.

For information on the status of the national wildlife area near you.

Will there be limits on the number of people/vehicles that can visit national wildlife areas?

The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and Environment and Climate Change Canada team members is of the utmost importance to the Department. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada will continue to monitor the situation and put in place appropriate measures to help Canadians follow the advice of public health experts and to practice physical distancing and hygiene measures, limit public gatherings, as well as respect travel restrictions and closures. Depending on the visitor volume, there may limits placed on the number of people and vehicles that can visit the sites.

Visitors should not expect the kind of experience that they have had in the past. Environment and Climate Change Canada is adapting to the COVID-19 situation and visitor access and services will be limited. 

When will National Wildlife Areas be fully operational?

Environment and Climate Change Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and employees.

Access to publicly accessed National Wildlife Areas is being re-instated over time or phased-in in broad alignment with the opening of provincial and national parks in each region.

The initial phase of re-opening includes: opening parking lots, trails, and some washrooms to support autonomous day-use activities by the public. Physical distancing by employees and visitors will continue to be an important part of the approach at all sites.

Full resumption of operations and services will follow a phased approach and will be dependent on advice from local and regional health authorities.

Will Environment and Climate Change Canada be taking any precautions at your places such as additional cleaning in washrooms?

The health and safety of visitors, employees, and all Canadians is of the utmost importance and Environment and Climate Change Canada will be following the advice of public health authorities and implementing measures for cleaning, hygiene, and physical distancing at all places open for visitation.

Only those places where measures can be implemented to minimize healthy and safety risks will be open to the public.

How will Environment and Climate Change Canada enforce measure such as local closures, limits and physical distancing?

The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and Environment and Climate Change Canada team members is of the utmost importance to the Department. Environment and Climate Change Canada will continue to monitor the situation and put in place appropriate measures to help Canadians follow the advice of public health experts and to practice physical distancing and hygiene measures, limit public gatherings, as well as respect travel restrictions and closures. 

Flattening the curve is all of our responsibility. If we all work together, we can keep our families, friends, neighbours and communities safe and healthy.

Why did it take so long to announce that you are opening your national wildlife areas?

Environment Climate Change Canada operates a diverse network of protected places and has taken the time necessary to plan for resuming services across the network.

We are focusing on a gradual resumption of services to ensure the health and safety of Canadians, visitors and employees.

Given that we manage multiples locations, preparations to ensure public and employee health and safety may take more time at some locations.

There may also be slightly different measures in place for limiting the spread of COVID-19 in different jurisdictions. Visitor access, services, and opening dates may vary across the country.

Will Environment and Climate Change Canada be charging entrance fees at this time?

Environment and Climate Change Canada does not charge entrance fees at most sites.

However, a limited number of sites do charge entrance fees. In the event that fee collection cannot be put in place safely, fees will be waived for visitors. For example, on-site fee collection at Cap Tourmente will require new measures for health and safety which may not be fully implemented at for several weeks. Admission fees will not be charged there in the short term but will be re-instated once safe collection of fees is made possible. 

Friends’ organisations at Wye Marsh and Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (Alaksen National Wildlife Area) are likewise proposing to proceed in a similar fashion.

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