Muddus national park
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Established in 1942 and expanded in 1984, Muddus national park is located in the Västerbotten county and is the sixth northernmost national park in Sweden, located just some 30 km (20 mi) north of the arctic circle. The last settlement in the area was abandoned in 1909, and the park's expansive patchwork of bogs and forests is largely untouched. The park covers an area of 493 square kilometers (190 square miles), making it the fourth largest in the nation.
Located east of the Scandinavian Mountain Range, the landscape is relatively flat with only a few peaks above the primary rock plateau, the highest being Sörstubba at 661 meters (2169 ft) above sea level. In the south, however, the 2½ kilometer (1½ mile) long and 100 meter (330 ft) deep dried-up Måskoskårsu canyon with vertical walls in some places makes for an impressive feature. Moisture in the cracks of the cliff walls along the park's canyons freezes and expands in the harsh winters, causing large blocks of the primary rock, mostly made up of granite, gneiss, porphyry, and diorite, to break off, crash down, and settle as large boulders at the bottom of the steep ravines.
Natural wildfires rage every eighth or ninth decade and have marked the landscape. The pine, spruce, and birch forests, mixed in various proportions, are largely primeval apart from some smaller felling areas in the south. The southern and eastern pine forests are particularly impressive. Many of the trees here are over 500 years old, one of which is the oldest known pine tree in the country. It has stood for more than 700 years, while a normal pine tree, if left untouched, can normally be expected to live for a third or half of that time. It has survived four wildfires and measures 16.5 meters (54 ft) in height and 46 centimeters (18 in) in diameter.
The flora is rich, apart from in the dry, pine-dominated areas, and features a few rare orchids like fairy slipper and ghost orchid, though the most common plants are meadowsweet, twinflower, May lily, common cow-wheat, wood crane's-bill, and goldenrod, particularly in the wet spruce forests that break up the boggy landscape like islands. The marsh saxifrage is common in the bogs, and common rush makes an unusually northerly appearance. The canyons are home to alpine lady-fern, alpine catchfly, arctic white campion, and Potentilla multifida (a close relative of staghorn cinquefoil), which are normally only found in Sweden's more alpine regions. Most flowers can be spotted in June and July, but mosquitos thrive in the bogs and plague the area during this time.
The Muddusjokk stream cuts the park down the middle from the lake of Stuor-Muddus in the north, widens into the Muddusjaure lake at the center of the park, and then cuts a deep canyon, finally emanating in the 42 meter (138 ft) high Muddusfallet waterfall, which fills a perfectly round lake named Kolksjön, in the south, 7 kilometers (4½ mi) from the park entrance at Skaite. Muddusjokk's calm waters in the north makes it an ideal habitat for many birds.
Muddus' bird life, in addition to the small birds of the coniferous forest also include the goldeneye in the lakes and the wood sandpiper in the bogs; birds of prey like the golden eagle, osprey, goshawk, northern harrier, short-eared owl, Ural owl, and eagle owl; and the infrequently sighted whooper, bean goose, smew, northern pintail, broad-billed sandpiper, and jack snipe.
An unusually well-established population of capercaillie put on an impressive courtship display in May and June. Though the mating and nesting area is a birdlife sanctuary with prohibited access during this time, their activities can be observed from the watchtower 16 kilometers (10 mi) north of the Skaite park entrance at Muddusluobbal lake (luobbal is Sami for a small lake intersected by a watercourse) near Muddusjaure.
Cross-country skiing in late winter provides a chance to spot a bear newly risen from hibernation or at least its tracks. Other animal life includes lynx, a strong population of marten, and the occasional wolverine. The bear and lynx populations have both found a chance to grow in the national park. European elk (moose) prefer more frequently lumbered areas, but are still plentiful some years.
The park is part of Laponia, designated as a world heritage by UNESCO in 1996. The Sami communities of Sörkaitum, Sirkas, and Gällivare have reindeer pasture in the park winter and summer. Visitors must take care not to disturb the calving, tagging, grazing, and driving, and slaughtering of reindeer, particularly in the spring, summer, and fall.
From national route 45 between Jokkmokk and Porjus leads a road (which is not plowed wintertime) from nearby Liggadammen ending at Skaite near Stora Luleälven (Great Lule River), where parking is available, and from where the park's southern part and its system of trails are accessible. Trails lead to the Måskoskårsu canyon to the southeast and the Muddusfallet waterfall to the north. The closest public transport access is at Liggadammen by bus between Jokkmokk and Gällivare, a ten-kilometer (6 mi) hike. Outside the trails, the terrain is largely inaccessible with its steep canyons and marshy bogs, although the bogs become easier to access during winter.
Facilities include four cabins at Muddusfallet (two rooms with nine beds in one and three in the other), Muddusluobbal (nine beds), Manson, and Namates (three beds each) as well as two cots (the native Sami population's traditional tent-like dwellings) at Muddusfallet and Muddusluobbal. All are located along the trails in the park's southern half.
The cabins, which are equipped with liquid-gas stoves, wood stoves for heating, and some kitchen utilities, are open between April 1 and October 1, but keys can be obtained from the tourist agencies in Jokkmokk and Gällivare or from the county administration in Jokkmokk. Cabins cost SEK 150 per person and night; children and youth up to 15 stay for free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Bedding or sleeping bags are to be provided by the visitor.
Cots have room for four people and a camp fire in the center and are free of charge. Sleeping bags are to be provided by the visitor. One can also set up a tent for free; a good spot is near the cot about a kilometer from the cabin at Muddusfallet.
Alternative access points are to the east by turning to Urtimjaur from the road between Nattavaara and Messaure, then continuing past it to Suolaure, which is about four kilometers (2½ mi) from the park. The road to Urtimjaur is plowed wintertime, and there are information signs posted at the parking lot. A slightly longer trail leads from Sarkavare in the southeast, accessible by turning off the road between Jokkmokk and Nattavaara. The road to Sarkavare is also plowed. When parking along national route 45 between Porjus and Gällivare, the park's boggy terrain is accessible from the north. This alternative is only recommended during winter.
Måskoskårsu along with the large area in the heart of the park surrounding the Muddusjaure lake and the area around Sörstubba in the north is off-limits between the middle of March to the end of July to protect nesting birds.
Following is a translation of the conditions governing Muddus national park. I am neither a lawyer, nor a translator. This is for educational purposes only. Do not blame me if you get in trouble, yada, yada. The conditions translated into the text below apply only to Muddus. Other national parks have other conditions specified for them.
Public notice with conditions regarding MUDDUS national park; SNFS (1987:7)
Supported by 4 § of the national park ordinance (1987:938), the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency announces the following conditions for the national park according to 5 § second section of the environmental protection act (1964:822).
Within the national park it is forbidden to
- stock items
- run cables through the ground or air
- construct trails or roads
- raise or expand buildings or other facilities
- conduct military training exercises
- conduct scientific investigations
- conduct business
- dig, excavate, fill, drill, chisel, paint, blast or otherwise damage ground and boulders
- remove minerals or other geological material
- break branches, cut down or otherwise damage living or dead trees, shrubs and bushes
- pick or dig up plants
- introduce plant or animal species
- collect or catch insects, fish or other animals or otherwise disturb animal life
- hunt or fish
- use motorized vehicles or motor boats
- land by aircraft
- practice horseback-riding
- bring dogs
- enter designated areas around Muddusjaure, on Sörstubba and in Måskoskårsu during the time from March 15 to July 31
- post a sign, poster or similar
- arrange orienteering checkpoints or marked trails
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency can - if special circumstances are present - announce exceptions from given restrictions.
Without hindrance by the above prohibitions, it is permissible
- for staff authorized by the national park bailiff to conduct measures according to determined plan of maintenance
- for an official in official matters concerning issues of reindeer keeping, the police, or the national park management to use motorboats, terrain scooter on snow-covered ground or to land by aircraft. Notification of mentioned matters shall be made to the national park management before conduct
- for an official in official matters regarding healthcare or rescue operation issues to use appropriate vehicle. Notification of mentioned matters shall be made to the national park management before conduct if possible, otherwise as soon as possible upon completion of the mission
- for a member of Gällivare, Sörkaitum and Sirkas sameby in relation to reindeer keeping tasks or fishing for household needs or trade to use motorboat, terrain scooter on snow-covered ground or to land by aircraft
- to gather berries and mushrooms
- to take dry branches and twigs to make a fire or arrange a shelter
- to bring a leashed dog during the time from January 1 to April 30.
Passing into law
This public notice will pass into law on January 1, 1988.
Information synthesized from www.environ.se, www.bd.lst.se, www.fjallen.nu, and www.gellivare.se.