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Bike path contradicts management plan

Dear editor,

They are at it again. In the March 9 issue of the Fitzhugh Parks Canada was still trotting out the same old misinformation about the Jasper and Banff management plans and the Icefields Parkway strategic concept being the basis of the proposed Icefields bike trail. They seem to have succeeded in pulling the wool over their own eyes.

On the contrary, the current proposal is clearly counter to the Jasper management plan that lists two of its most important challenges as: “the status of woodland caribou” and “the regional grizzly bear population” and commits to: “Ensure activities and facilities do not have any additional impact on key wildlife corridors.”  The Icefields strategic concept states: “Key elements of ecological health include … ensuring that human-caused wildlife mortality and disturbance does not increase.” Not a word about a 109 kilometre, $86 million bike trail anywhere, particularly one that will include:

• Felling thousands of trees
• Clearing large patches of early-spring,
bear feeding areas
• Clearing dense willow bird-nesting habitat
• Construction of paved access roads to the trail
• Addition of toilets and picnic areas
• Destroying four km of important habitat of
the threatened Brazeau caribou herd
• The transportation of thousands of truckloads
of rock, gravel and asphalt
• Confining critical bear habitat between a bike
trail and a highway

This so-called “environmentally friendly” trail will inevitably lead to wildlife habituation and mortality. If the goal, as stated by Parks in the Fitzhugh is to “minimize environmental impacts on important wilderness areas,” why build a trail through critical bear and caribou habitat that will cater to virtually only one activity (biking) for what will realistically be at most four months of the year when there is already a perfectly useable shoulder on the highway?

In its haste to cater to local business and biking interests Parks Canada senior management appears to have forgotten that it manages this national park and world heritage site for the Canadian public and world visitors and that protection of ecological integrity is its legislated first priority. If it finds this so difficult to understand and has to resort to lies maybe it should not be in charge of one of Canada’s most treasured national parks.

Jill Seaton

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