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Alberta Wilderness slams Jasper National Park multi-species plan

close up of a white bark pine, 5 needles

by Craig Gilbert |

The final Multi-Species Action Plan for Jasper National Park of Canada has been posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry, according to Parks Canada.

It is a “woefully insufficient” list of doomed New Year’s resolutions, according to the Alberta Wilderness Association, which has not changed its position that the plan does not live up to the requirements of Canada’s species at risk legislation.

The action plan outlines measures that will be taken over the next five years to support the recovery and management of seven species at risk found in Jasper National Park.

Woodland caribou, whitebark pine, Haller’s apple moss, two species of bats (northern myotis and little brown myotis), and two birds (common nighthawk and olive-sided flycatcher)—are listed as either threatened or endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

A Parks spokesperson also pointed out that Environment and Climate Change Canada has recently added 11 migratory bird species to Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Two species that regularly breed in Jasper National Park are now listed as threatened: bank swallow and barn swallow.

Parks said in a press release that the plan “benefited” from consultation with Jasper’s Indigenous partners, Canadians, and public agencies including Environment Canada but the AWA isn’t buying it, according to Ian Urquhart, editor of the Wild Lands Advocate, AWA’s periodical.

“The consultation process that preceded this final plan is bankrupt,” he wrote in an email. “The plan, quite literally, is entirely unchanged from what Parks Canada proposed earlier in 2017. Put the final plan beside the proposed plan on your computer screen and you’ll soon see there are more days in a week than there are word changes from one document to the next.”

He said none of the comments or suggestions from the public appeared in the final text.

The action plan can be viewed on the Species at Risk Public Registry website. Parks says it  focuses efforts on making a tangible contribution to the recovery of species at risk, and building Canadians’ awareness, appreciation and support for species at risk conservation.

Urquhart said some priorities for the plan seem to confuse the definition of measures with outcomes.

“Take woodland caribou,” he wrote “Measure 8 is described as ‘Reduce highway-caused mortality.’ This isn’t a measure, it’s a desired outcome. How will you reduce highway-caused mortality – that’s a measure and the plan doesn’t deal with the ‘how.’”

In other cases, like Measure 6 related to reducing pressure on caribou from predators, it’s vague where there should be a suite of measures described.

“What measures will Parks Canada take to manage human activities?” he asked. “Is this a reference to the winter backcountry closure only? Are other measures needed/planned? The action plan is silent about the suite of measures that should be identified here.”

He said the federal act is specific in requiring a wide range of information, and the JNP plan isn’t good enough.

“The Jasper final plan, like that proposed plan, is long on intention but very short on offering the measurable actions, deadlines, and firm targets needed to help species-at-risk,” he said. “Senior managers in Jasper National Park exhibit no sense of urgency in this plan.”

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