The Elk Iceland National Park (English Elk Iceland National Park, French Parc national du Canada Elk Iceland ) is a Canadian National Park in the province of Alberta. The 194 square kilometer park is located about 45 km east of Edmonton. The park is located on the Yellowhead Highway and is adjacent to the Strathcona County and to the County of Lamont.
The park is located in a wooded section of the Beaver Hills, a natural hilly landscape with many lakes, marshes and ponds. The hills of Beaver Hills tower above the surrounding plains by 30 to 60 meters, the lakes and ponds, also known as Kettles, make up about a quarter of the park surface. The largest lake is Lake Astotin in the north of the park. The park is located in a transition zone in which the prairies pass into the boreal forests.
The Beaver Hills were for centuries the settlement area of Sarcee. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Sarcee, however, were ousted by the Crees in the surrounding plains. The Crees were buffalo hunters and lived by the rich natural resources of the Beaver Hills. Until the 1830s it operated a lively trade in beaver pelts with the European trading companies, to the stock of beavers was exhausted. With the destruction of the bison herds the Crees from the 1860s was deprived of livelihood, so they left the Beaver Hills. From 1881 there began to settlers from Germany, England and settle the Ukraine, but the area of the present park was too hilly and wet for successful farming. A first reserve in the Beaver Hills in 1899, established as the federal government north of the present national parks as The Cooking Lake Forest Reserve presented in response to a forest fire in 1895 a part of the forest as the nation's first forest reserve under protection, today's Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife, and Provincial Recreation Area. As the hunt for elk and mule deer, however, was still permitted, and especially the existence of elk in Canada was acutely threatened demanded five citizens of Fort Saskatchewan, the establishment of a wildlife reserve. Subsequently, the Federal Government established in July 1906 42 -square-mile Elk Park on Iceland Lake, now Lake Astotin, which was fenced with a 2.2 meter high fence. Thus, the park was the first big game reserve in Canada. With the establishment of the park in 1906 there was only one settler family, the Oster on Easter Lake, who asked not to sell their property of 16 hectares and further managed it until 1941. Another settler, Daniel Jordan, lived as squatters in the park area and left his country in 1909 in return for compensation of $ 900 in 1908, the park was renamed in Elk Iceland because he was established as a sanctuary for elk (English elk) and within the park the island-studded Lake is Iceland. On March 13, 1913, the park was given the status of a Dominion Park. 1922, the park was expanded to the Yellowhead Highway, through the National Park Act of 1930, he became a national park. In 1947, a further enlargement of the park by 60 square kilometers south of the Yellowhead Highway.
2006 here was the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, a light protected area, which includes the Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area heard reported.
Flora and Fauna
The park consists of open, grassy aspen forest with numerous embedded lakes and ponds. With the establishment of the park in 1906 lived within the park 24 elk, 2 to 3 elk and 35 mule deer. From 1907 to 1909 300 prairie bison from Montana were brought north of the park in an enclosure. The majority of them were resettled in 1909 in the new Buffalo National Park near Wainwright, but about 20 animals remained in Iceland Elk Park. The eponymous for the Beaver Hills Beaver had been exterminated in the 19th century and until 1942 were reintroduced in the park. Due to the numerous ponds and lakes, their population grew rapidly. 1965, south of the Yellowhead Highway located 23 wood bison from Wood Buffalo National Park in the parking area. Today, the park is compared to the size of the most densely populated Canadian national park of animals and is considered a park with the highest density of herbivorous mammals on the African Serengeti. The park can be observed in the wild is an excellent place to forest and prairie bison, Manitoba elk, moose, white-tailed and mule deer and beaver. He is also an important habitat for water birds and an important stopover for migratory birds for a total of over 250 species of birds, including Canada Herons, American Bittern, Canada Goose, American White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owls, Pileated Woodpecker and many duck species. In 1987 a successful resettlement program for the trumpeter swan.
The park is the only national park in Canada, which is completely fenced. Cross through the park runs the Yellowhead Highway, which is also the main access. In the park lead three entrances, one in the south, one in the north and one at the west end of the park. The visitor center is located near the southern park entrance. The park is crossed twelve hiking trails and nature trails, including the Living Waters Boardwalk that leads as a floating bridge 300 feet above the Lake Astotin. At Lake Astotin There is a campsite and a nine-hole golf course. Another, but very rustic campground is located on Easter Lake. At the pioneer history of the 19th century reminds a Ukrainian pioneer house, to the early history of the park is the oldest ranger station in Alberta. In winter, the park is target for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers. Every year, approximately 200,000 visitors to the National Park.