QUÉBEC CITY, Jan. 27, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Sépaq is launching a three-year-long pilot project authorizing dogs, under certain conditions, in the Frontenac, Jacques-Cartier and Oka national parksin order to measure the impact of their presence on visits and the natural environment.
"Our mission has always been to strike a balance between conservation and accessibility. We are therefore naturally open on this subject, but we must also preserve the quality of the experience that thousands of visitors seek in these places that are so popular because they're so peaceful. Establishing rules on dogs' access to sites will enable us to evaluate the impact of their presence while making Québec's natural heritage accessible to a broader public," said Martin Soucy, Vice-President of Operations for Parcs Québec.
In concrete terms, specific areas in the Frontenac, Jacques-Cartier and Oka national parks have been selected to see whether the calm and security of visitors can effectively be protected in such circumstances. Dogs will have to be kept on a leash. The behaviour of the dogs' owners will also be evaluated for compliance with the rules in force on these sites.
A pilot project to help us decide
The pilot project, which is part of a long-standing approach, was developed around the guiding principles of Parcs Québec. "We constantly try to evaluate the impact of our decisions on the protection of biodiversity and the experience our visitors are offered in the parks," John MacKay, Chief Executive Officer at Sépaq, stated. "This is true for accommodation and trail development and for our choice of outdoor activities, the objective always being for our actions to impact the natural environment as little as possible."
Dogs were not allowed in Québec national parks until now by way of precaution. Following the pilot project and in light of the results, Sépaq will be able to make an informed decision for the future regarding all national parks as to whether or not dogs should be allowed on site under certain conditions. A pilot project follow-up committee, composed of park managers, scientists and an animal health representative, will ensure the quality of data collected as the project unfolds. In the process, the committee will also put forward recommendations for the program's improvement.
"Between now and May 20th, we kindly ask the population to keep in mind that the project is only being carried out in three national parks. These three parks are the only ones that will accept dogs, only on identified sites, and of course, in accordance with the prescribed conditions. In all other national parks of the Parcs Québec network, dogs are still prohibited," Martin Soucy explained. It should be mentioned, however, that dogs are already allowed, subject to certain conditions, in wildlife reserves and in certain tourist resorts.
In order to avoid confusion in regards to the pilot project, detailed information is available on the relevant websites, and the rules may be consulted on the Sépaq website at parcsquebec.com/dogs.
Selected national park sites where dogs will be allowed
Parc national de Frontenac (in an agriculture and agroforestry sector and an outlying region), Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier (a forestry sector on the outskirts of Québec City) and Parc national d'Oka (a high-occupancy park in the peri-urban area of Montréal) were singled out as ideal places for the pilot project, largely because they easily lend themselves to restricting dog access to certain sectors. The large visitor traffic in these parks was also a criterion factored into our choice.
SOURCE Société des établissements de plein air du Québec
For further information: Lucie Boulianne, Communications Manager, Sépaq, 418-686-4875, [email protected]