Chilcotin Ark

The Chilcotin Ark is huge. At 2.5 million hectares, it’s twice the size of Banff and Jasper National Parks combined, three and half times bigger than Yellowstone, and larger than Belgium. This vast stretch of wilderness is a globally rare and outstandingly pure example of an intact continental ecosystem. It connects the semi-desert grasslands of Churn Creek Protected Area in the Fraser River canyon lands to the far reaches of Tweedsmuir Park beyond the Rainbow Ranges over six hundred kilometers to the northwest. It harbours four major geologic regimes, B.C’s highest peaks, dormant volcanoes, lava plateaus, and rift valleys that cradle lakes up to 100 kilometers long. Its medley of elevational extremes, weather patterns, orographic regions, flora and fauna can be experienced nowhere else in Earth’s north temperate region, where Western society has made its primary home. It is untouched by the environmental degradation of land-clearing, logging, mining, industrial production, and the transformation of wild space into asphalt. There are no road networks in the Ark. Logging, farming and mining are unknown. There is no explosion of home building in its ancient valleys, and no pollution or smog. The Chilcotin Ark is still functioning as it did in the pre-agrarian world and is an unbroken link to our hunter-gatherer ancestors and our deepest human heritage.

Four major river systems cut through the Ark, flowing from the dry interior to the sea and creating continentally-significant flyways and unequalled habitat. The most dramatic of these, the Kleena Kleene, tunnels through the Coast Massif, bursting from the lower canyon at the foot of Mt. Waddington, whose polar summit soars 4,000 metres above its mouth. Moisture carried in the bellies of cyclones spawned by the great north Pacific Gyr feed the Waddington, Silverthorne and Homathko glacier complex, forming the largest temperate ice field on Earth. When the Rockies run dry and the Himalayas are parched, the central ice cap of the Ark will still produce fresh water for salmon rivers, and will still slake the thirst of all manner of beings as they move upslope or across space to find new ground. The mosaic of diversity will remain intact. This unity of energies makes the Ark a true refuge, a reservoir from which species can spread to repopulate a ravaged world. Like its namesake Noah’s Ark, it is a planetary vessel carrying precious cargo through dangerous times, and a sanctuary for the human spirit. The connections between its myriad ecosystems create a presence that can be sensed, felt, and entered. Our ancestors tapped into it and used it to survive. Today, such rare and truly wild places are the last living sources of knowledge from which we can relearn the axioms of interconnectivity as we blaze a trail into the unknown.