Parks Canada to Expand Winter Recreation Activities in Jasper

July 26, 2013

by Parks Canada

Today Parks Canada announced the decision to offer new and enhanced winter recreational opportunities and implement new caribou conservation actions in Jasper National Park.

“These decisions represent a major achievement in support of caribou conservation at a time when southern populations in Jasper are more vulnerable than ever,” said Greg Fenton, Superintendent for Jasper National Park. “They were supported by a comprehensive public engagement process in which we heard passionate pleas about the need for both conservation and connecting people with this special place we call Jasper.”

To meet a key action from the Conservation Strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou in Canada’s National Parks, Parks Canada will delay winter recreational access to important caribou habitat in three areas of Jasper National Park to reduce the threat of packed trails helping wolves hunt caribou. Starting in winter 2013-2014, recreational access will be delayed until February 28th in the À La Pêche (northern Jasper) and Brazeau caribou ranges (southern Jasper) in the Park, and until February 15th in the Tonquin caribou range.

“We support these Jasper National Park decisions as important steps towards recovering caribou in the Canadian Rockies and restoring ecological integrity in the Rocky Mountain National Parks,” said Kelly Sloan, Executive Director for CPAWS-Northern Alberta Chapter.

With these decisions, Parks Canada is demonstrating leadership in caribou conservation and will strengthen Jasper National Park’s position as a premier destination to experience the true wonders of winter from gentle exploration and learning opportunities to multi-day wilderness adventures. Based on input from a comprehensive public consultation process, Parks Canada modified boundaries and timing of the original caribou conservation proposals and committed to new and enhanced winter recreational opportunities outside important caribou habitat.

Parks Canada has committed to new and expanded winter recreation activities in two areas: Decoigne (Highway 16 West of Jasper) and Pyramid Lake. Opportunities to enhance winter recreation in these areas will include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter walking and access to new subalpine and alpine ski touring terrain that is not in important caribou habitat.

“I am filled with energetic excitement and optimism for the coming winter!” said Jasper resident and avid outdoor enthusiast Loni Klettl. “I truly believe that in considering all the public feedback, Parks Canada now realizes and understands the full range of winter opportunities that we can promote, highlight and celebrate, while in turn giving caribou the protection they need.”

“Parks Canada’s actions have improved the overall winter recreation opportunities in Jasper for both Canadian and international visitors,” said Mary Darling, interim CEO of Tourism Jasper. “Their vision reinforces Jasper’s position as a leader in ecological conservation and helps put Jasper on the map as a premiere destination for winter activities.”

As part of the decision-making process, Parks Canada met with a range of stakeholders, including recreational users at two workshops held in Edmonton and Jasper in February 2013. Participants inventoried winter use in the park and identified areas for enhanced winter recreation. The decisions announced today are based on input from these workshops, stakeholder meetings and public comments.

“Conservation doesn’t have to happen at the expense of recreational opportunities in national parks,” said Monica Andreeff, Executive Director for the Association for Mountain Parks Protection & Enjoyment (AMPPE). “AMPPE plans to ensure Parks Canada fulfills its commitment to establishing new winter recreation areas in conjunction with seasonal activity restrictions.”

New winter services will be available at Decoigne starting this winter. Parks Canada will involve regional recreational users in planning future expansions for both Decoigne and Pyramid Lake, to help develop outstanding new winter recreational opportunities in these areas as quickly as possible.

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