As Canada’s busiest national park commits to tackling climate change and strengthening Indigenous ties, it’s time to find better ways to enable visitors to get around in the next few years. I am aiming.
These are among the highlights of the 2022 Management Plan that will set the direction for the next decade of Alberta’s Banff National Park.
Parks Canada also announced plans for other mountain national parks this week, including Lakes Jasper and Waterton in Alberta, Kootenay in British Columbia, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier, and Yoho.
Each maintains their commitment to preserving the parks for future generations, with a renewed focus on climate change and the relationship between indigenous peoples.
Banff, which receives more than four million tourists annually, said Sal Rasheed, director of Banff.
This includes working with the town of Banff to develop a community plan to address climate change, introducing electric or hybrid vehicles as part of the Parks Canada fleet, and reducing energy use in buildings. include.
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Rasheed said there is also a focus on moving people through the park in a more sustainable way, with more than 8 million vehicles passing through each year.
“Visitors are on the rise and we need to pay attention to getting people to the right places in an effective and efficient way.”
References to gondolas have been removed in the 2022 plan. This means that proposals for a cable car from the town of Banff to the Mount Norquay ski area have not been considered, Rasheed said.
“We’ve done our homework, decided it wasn’t feasible, and moved on.”
While the plan does not rule out the possibility of high-speed passenger trains from Calgary, it says twinning the existing rail line could increase wildlife deaths within the park, which could lead to environmental concerns. Conservation groups have also expressed concern.
Other transportation solutions could include expanding public transit to high-traffic areas, particularly Lake Moraine and Lake Minnewanka, he said.
Rasheed said relations with indigenous peoples are also being focused on as part of federal reconciliation efforts.
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An Indigenous Advisory Circle was established a few years ago and meets several times a year to help develop plans, Rasheed said.
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“For example, recently we are rethinking how we culturally burn our landscapes. We are trying to weave indigenous knowledge into the Western approach to fire management.”
Reintroducing bison into Banff’s backcountry is also an important part of the settlement, he said.
“We partnered with Stoney Nakoda Nation to use cultural learning to manage the bison,” said Rashid, noting that traditional knowledge could help the herd succeed. I referred to an Indigenous Peoples-led report.
The reintroduction of bison, a five-year pilot project, is expected to be evaluated by 2023, according to the management plan.
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“It’s no exaggeration to say that bison will continue to be in the landscape of Banff National Park,” Rashid said of the herd of about 80 animals. “The exact number and what their appearance will be have yet to be determined.”
The plan states that grizzly bears, mountain goats, wolves, cougars and wolverines are sensitive and important species for national parks. Habitat security for these species should be maintained or improved by 2030, it said.
Sara Elmerighi, National Parks Program Coordinator for the Southern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Conservation Society, said the plan is a big step up from previous plans.
“As with all management plans, the devil is in the details,” she said. “That’s really how the management plan is delivered on the ground.”
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But overall it looks like a good plan, especially with a focus on climate change, Elmelighi said.
A strategy for dealing with downtown is also important, but it’s only the first step, she said.
“It’s very important to consider how recreation in lesser-populated areas is impacting wildlife habitat and connectivity, invasive species and aquatic life,” she said. “Human use in those locations still needs to be controlled.”
The plan considers new mountain huts “with obvious and persistent public safety risks”.
Elmeligi said CPAWS would be concerned if new commercial sheds were built in the backcountry. The replacement facility should not expand beyond its current footprint, she added.
Rasheed said he takes pride in the fact that Banff National Park is 97 percent wilderness.
“We are very clear in our management plan that we will not build new commercial properties in the wilderness,” he said.
Other management plan highlights include: Maintaining Jasper’s caribou population after the 2017 wildfires and assessing the ruins of Waterton Lakes.
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