My recent letter to Banff National Park and Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, regarding poor signage and vegetation trampling at Healy Pass resulted in a positive response.
The superintendent has “asked the resource conservation and visitor experience managers to review the existing signs and information at Healy Pass, and the informal trail near the Monarch Ramparts, to explore options to improve visitor education and environmental design intended to encourage hikers to stay on the trail and allow for re-vegetation.”
The issues at Healy Pass are not a localized issue. Alberta’s Rockies from Waterton Lakes National Park, in the south, to Willmore Wilderness Provincial Park in the north are busier than I have ever seen.
Similar overuse impacts are readily observable at Quarry Lake, Grassi Lakes, Kananaskis, and the Nordegg area.
Vegetation damage from trampling is a directly observable effect of human overuse because plants can’t readily move. Wildlife on the other hand are mobile.
When vegetation degradation becomes noticeable, it often means that wildlife movement and use has been significantly disrupted.
This does not bode well for sensitive species such as grizzly bears, wolverines, and caribou that require large areas with low human use to obtain food for survival.
Every choice we make has an environmental effect.
It’s time we become aware of the interconnectedness of our personal decisions and the environmental effects of those choices.
We also have the responsibility and civic duty to participate in our governments from the local to federal level. If we want our children and grandchildren to have the experience of seeing wild animals and wildflowers, we as citizens must choose to participate in our governments.
Otherwise, we risk abdicating our voice to special interests who put short-term gain ahead of the interests of future generations.