BOW VALLEY – The federal government announced $14 million in funding last week for conservation and transit in mountain national parks in Alberta and B.C.
"Canada's mountain national parks are national treasures and renowned internationally. By protecting more of our nature and working in collaboration with partners, the Government of Canada is preserving our treasured places and connecting more Canadians to the outdoors," said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change responsible for Parks Canada in a statement.
Banff, Yoho, Glacier, Waterton, Jasper, Mount Revelstoke and Kootenay national parks will be in line to be part of the $14 million of funding, $12.4 million of which will be used to support biodiversity, restore species at risk and help lower risk associated with wildfires.
The multi-site project aiming to restore open forests and improve habitat for wildlife through techniques such as prescribed burns will utilize $5.9 million, support recovery actions for whitebark and limber pines will receive $4.1 million and the restoration of the westslope cutthroat trout will receive $2.4 million.
The whitebark and limber pines are integral to the health of the ecosystem as a soil stabilizer and important source of food for wildlife. Prescribed fires are used to lessen the severity of wildfires, release nutrients and allow for a mosaic of ecosystems that support diverse plants and wildlife, according to the press release.
While the $2.4 million for the westslope cutthroat trout is following a 2018 pilot project to restore the at-risk species by removing non-native fish and re-introducing westslope cutthroat trout, which was deemed successful.
The federal funding will utilize $1.5 million to build on the $3 million previously announced in 2018 for the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission.
"Roam Transit is very appreciative of this contribution from Parks Canada. These funds will enable visitors and residents to continue accessing areas of Banff National Park without the use of a private vehicle," Davina Bernard, chair of the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission said in a statement.
"Service right to where you want to be will help us connect to these incredible places."
Partnering together to find and implement transit solutions for Banff National Park, which saw more than four million visitors from April 2018 to March 2019, the investment will allow for longer term transit planning.
Currently Roam Transits runs five local Banff routes in addition to a Banff-Canmore regional route and a Banff-Lake Louise regional route. More parking was also added this Saturday (Aug. 31) when 440 new stalls of free nine-hour parking, open to all visitors, at the train station was officially opened.