THE CANADIAN HERITAGE RIVERS SYSTEM (CHRS)
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) is Canadaís national program for freshwater heritage conservation. It is a cooperative program of the governments of Canada, all ten provinces and three territories. Parks Canada is the lead federal agency in this program.
The objectives of the CHRS are to give national recognition to Canadaís outstanding
rivers and to ensure long-term management that will conserve their natural, historical and recreational values for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, now and in the future.
The CHRS is administered by the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board, comprised of members appointed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The Board reviews nominations and determines whether a nominated river meets selection criteria to the Minister responsible for Parks Canada and to the provincial/territorial Minister of the nominating government. The Board consists of one representative each from Parks Canada, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) and the participating provincial and territorial governments. British Columbia and New Brunswick are represented by private citizens.
Becoming a Canadian Heritage River is a two step process - nomination and designation. Public involvement and local community support is integral to both river nomination and designation.
The Nomination Process:
Submissions and Public Involvement
The river nomination process begins with community-based initiatives to recognize and protect a local river. These initiatives come from a variety of sources such as landowners, recreational, historical or tourism associations, Aboriginal peoples, environmental groups, local businesses, and interested members of the public. The first step is to present a submission to the federal, provincial or territorial Board member(s) for any river a group or individual feels is worthy of inclusion in the CHRS.
The responsible government(s) evaluates submissions based on the riverís natural, cultural and recreational values, the representation of these values in the CHRS program and the level of public support for the nomination. Selection usually involves an analysis of the number and complexity of conflicting land uses and the costs that effective management of the river corridor would entail.
If the responsible government(s) decides to pursue the nomination, work is carried out cooperatively with stakeholder groups to prepare and submit a nomination document to the Board. The document contains all information necessary to show that the river is of outstanding Canadian value, as defined by the CHRS guidelines, and that sufficient measures will be put in place to ensure that all those values will be maintained. The Board then reviews the nomination and makes its recommendation to the federal Minister responsible for Parks Canada and the appropriate Minister(s) of the nominating government(s).
The Designation Process:
Submission of Management Plan
The river designation process begins when the Board member(s) representing the nominating government submits a management plan to the Board. The management plan sets out the policies and practices to be followed to ensure that the riverís development, management and use are consistent with CHRS objectives and guidelines. Although extensions may be granted when necessary, the plan is normally tabled within three years of the Boardís acceptance of the river nomination.
Once a management plan is lodged with the Board, the Chairperson advises the federal Minister responsible for Parks Canada and the Minister(s) responsible for the nominating government agencies that the requirements for designation have been met. The Ministers will then formally designate the river by unveiling a plaque at a key location on the river and by signing a ceremonial text to be included in the official CHRS registry book. Designation of a river to the CHRS ensures that the river will be managed in a way that will conserve the outstanding heritage resources for which the river was nominated and that its recreational potential will be realized.
In total, 37 rivers have been nominated to the CHRS, totalling 9,291 kms. Twenty-eight of these have been formally designated making the CHRS the fastest growing river conservation program in the world.
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