Irresponsible Development Threatens Jasper's Wildlife
Jasper National Park in Alberta is one of Canada’s most spectacular and beloved national parks. Part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, Jasper is home to numerous species of flora and fauna, many of which are considered at-risk, and spectacular scenery that millions come to visit every year.
Parks Canada has proposed a new paved walking and biking path beside the Icefields Parkway. The "Icefields Trail" will stretch 109km from the town of Jasper through Jasper National Park's wilderness to the Wilcox campground, and comes with a price tag of 86 million dollars.
This project was announced as part of the Government of Canada’s Budget 2016, which allocated $65.9 million to the project, raising many questions regarding the origin of the project and the transparency of Park’s Canada’s decision and project approval process. Parks Canada announced that it will be consulting Canadians on the proposed “Icefields Trail” project, now and CPAWS is calling on all Canadians to speak out against it.
Join us in TAKING ACTION TODAY! Parks Canada should not go forward with this project because:
It destroys critical habitat for at-risk species – The trail will go through threatened caribou habitat, grizzly bear habitat, and endangered whitebark pine habitat. Both woodland caribou and grizzly beard have a well-studied sensitivity to linear disturbance. In a national park, our at-risk species should be protected from such disturbances.
The cost is too high– $86 million dollars is only to cover the cost of building, and does not include maintenance and emergency services. At a time when conservation staff and the budget has been cut by one-third since 2012 and education programs have been completely cut, this money could be better spent.
It doesn’t respect the law – According to the National Parks Act, the federal government’s first priority in all park management decisions must be maintaining or restoring the health of park ecosystems. A proposal that threatens park wildlife doesn’t meet this test. Many of the related Icefields Pathway consultation documents claim that it was included in the Park Managment plan and Icefields Parkway Strategic Concept. It was not. The Icefields Parkway Strategic Concept and management plans actually state that Parks Canada will: "Review the needs of cyclists and develop options to enhance opportunities";
and that Parks Canada will "Work closely with stakeholders to design and implement key actions and to monitor success"
Jasper already can't keep up with trail maintence– Part of the $86.4 million could be used for upkeep on the current trail system that is severely lacking in maintenance. Many of the backcountry trails and facilities badly need attention. The Ttonquin valley, one of Jasper's most famous backcountry circuits is a muddy mess causing trail braiding, and increased erosion and destruction of nearby vegetation. There has been very little effort on Parks to keep up this scenic trail system. Money and effort should be put into maintaining current ifrastructure instead of investing in new projects.
Jasper is a global treasure – As a World Heritage Site, Canada has promised the world we will protect Jasper National Park on behalf of the global community.
CPAWS is actively participating in consultations and speaking out on this issue.
Read CPAWS' submissions to the Phase 1 Public Consultation on the Icefields Trail
Read the CPAWS response to Parks Canada's Announcement of the Public Consultation on the Proposed Trail (January 2016)
Read the Jasper Environmental Association (JEA) blogs on the bike path.
Executive Director Alison Ronson speaks to Bob Weber of the Canadian Press about the trail for CBC
More details on the project:
- Speak Out Against the Icefields Trail
- Speaking up in defense of our national parks is the best way to ensure these natural treasures, which belong to all of us, are protected forever. Make your voice heard on the Icefields Trail development now!
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