Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Niagara Falls and Lake Superior will be competing with more than 200 spectacular places around the world in the next phase of a competition to name the New 7 Wonders of Nature, organizers said Wednesday.
The three Canadian entrants were among 261 nominees, a list that includes Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and Loch Ness.
Over a billion people are expected to join in internet voting to nominate the 77 semifinalists for the top natural wonders. Votes can be cast until July 7, after which a panel of experts will select 21 finalists to be put to another popular vote, which is expected conclude in 2011.
"We are calling on people all over the world to actively show their appreciation for our ... natural world by joining together to celebrate the most extraordinary sites on our planet," said Tia Viering, spokeswoman of the New 7 Wonders campaign.
The Swiss-based non-profit foundation collected 441 nominations over the internet since it opened the selection process in 2007.
Dinosaur Provincial Park was named Canada's official entry for the contest, after beating Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park, the Maritime's Bay of Fundy, Quebec's Rocher Perce and Ontario's Long Point Sand Spit during the first round of voting, which finished on Dec. 31.
The provincial park, which lies in the valley of the Red Deer River, is renowned as one of the great fossil beds in the world. Thirty-nine dinosaur species have been unearthed there, with more than 500 specimens removed and exhibited around the world. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
In addition to the 222 national nominees, the competition also named 39 additional nominees for those entrants that cross national borders. Niagara Falls and Lake Superior, shared between Canada and the United States, were among those.
The New 7 Wonders campaign, led by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, aims to support, preserve and restore monuments and natural sites.
The competition to choose natural wonders follows an earlier competition to name the world's top man-made wonders.
About 100 million people voted in that competition, which finished in the summer of 2007 with the naming of the winners: the Colosseum, Italy; the Great Wall of China; the Taj Mahal, India; Petra, Jordan; Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil; Machu Picchu, Peru; and the Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico.