7-12, Unit Five: "A Park Not Alone"

Introduction & Teacher Background

Placing boundaries around a park gives a sense of security to those of us who would like to see a beautiful area protected. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (W-GIPP) has boundaries clearly defined on a map. The International Boundary between Waterton lakes National Park and Glacier National Park is periodically cleared of vegetation. The boundaries are real to the world of politics and jurisdiction, and they appeal to a human need for a sense of control over our environment. But to animals, plants, weather, fire, water, rocks, soils – literally, the real world – they are an illusion.

This unit is about the contrast between the illusion and the reality. Waterton-Glacier is intimately connected to everything around it – natural and unnatural, problems and solutions. Ecosystems, whether “artificial” or “natural,” know no boundaries. Economics, bears, wolves, politics, elk, inter-cultural relationships, fire policy, exotic species, encroaching development, weather patterns, water quality and quantity upstream and down -- nothing can be isolated from anything else around it. The problems faced by the "Peace Park" are rarely internal in origin.

The activities in this unit focus on three of the problems faced by Waterton-Glacier:

  1. Exotic plants and fish threaten the integrity of whole systems within the W-GIPP.
  2. Weather patterns in the park and foolish development patterns outside the park have combined into flooding threats downstream.
  3. Incremental development, one clearing, house or road at a time, ensures conflict between humans and large migratory animals.

In the process of examining these issues, the dual questions of “What do we want our parks to be?” and “Does our answer to the first question define who we are?” will be the touchstones of the activities.

Activity 1: Who Grows There?
Grades: 7-12
Methods: Students will compile a collection of exotic and noxious plants for identification purposes, and perform a limited service learning eradication project in their community or Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Time: 3 hours classroom, indefinite time outside of class and doing service learning project
Subjects: Life science, history, visual arts, geography

Last updated: November 8, 2017

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