Relevant quotes from Parks Canada sources and grizzly experts
The strategy of the Jasper National Park Management Plan involves:”maintaining or improving habitat security for grizzly bears” (Executive Summary JNP Management Plan p10)
“Habitat is considered secure when there is little likelihood grizzly bears will encounter people” (JNP Management Plan 4.4.1)
“Human/wildlife conflict will arise, trail goes through high value habitat” (Parks Canada Icefields-Trail Steering Committee October 13, 2016)
“There are significant human safety concerns as well as a variety of potential impacts to bears and their habitat associated with a multi-use pathway through occupied grizzly bear country.” (Grant MacHutchon: expert in bear/human interaction)
”Human activities that affect the ability of bears to feed on important food sources, especially reproductive female bears in the late summer and fall, potentially could have adverse effects on reproductive output of a population” (Grant MacHutchon)
“On certain types of trails (e.g. flat, moderate downhill, smooth surface), the typical cyclist can travel at higher speeds that increase the likelihood of a sudden encounter.” (Stephen Herrero, grizzly specialist)
“There is a long record of human-bear conflicts associated with mountain biking in bear habitat including the serious injuries and deaths suffered by bike riders. Both grizzly bears and black bears have been involved in these conflicts with mountain bikers.” (From the Board of Review report on the death of a mountain-biker in Montana)
Jasper Environmental Association July 2017
Paving Paradise: the proposed Jasper-Icefields bike trail
Parks Canada has proposed a 107km-long, paved, multi-use trail to be built parallel to the Parkway from Jasper to the Icefields
The Jasper Environmental Association supports activities like cycling and hiking in the park but the infrastructure to support them needs to be appropriate and sustainable for the goals of the National Park
The Trail will run 20 to 30m from the Parkway through important Grizzly habitat, critical Woodland Caribou habitat and a sensitive Mountain Goat mineral lick
Grizzly and Black Bears will feed in the space between the Trail and the Parkway creating a hazard for bears and bikers. Parks plans to clear the berry bushes to discourage bears from feeding there, but berries are only a part of their diet
Thousands of trees will be logged as Parks clears an 8m-wide strip to the Icefields, eliminating the equivalent of 142 football fields of critical valley-bottom wildlife habitat.
Parks Canada proposes to use 16.3km of the old, decommissioned Parkway. Yet 6.4km of this is Zone 2 Wilderness that should not be disturbed. It is now overgrown and used as a safe corridor by wildlife to avoid the Icefields Parkway
More than 30,000 truckloads of gravel will be mined from park gravel pits. This will destroy more of the Park, spread weeds along the trail and entail the use of herbicides
The cost to Canadian taxpayers will be at least $86,000,000. And this is not the final bill – Parks Canada has not calculated the need for picnic areas, larger campgrounds, kiosks, access roads, parking lots and annual maintenance
‘Target audiences’ for this trail through remote Grizzly habitat include ‘families, new Canadians trying out new activities and urban youth’. Is that safe?
The trail will adversely affect the magnificent views of wilderness and the opportunities to view wildlife for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who drive this famous highway through a World Heritage Site
In our view, the Icefields Parkway with its wide shoulder is one of the safest highways in Canada for biking. In its 58-year history there has been just one unfortunate bike/vehicle fatality. A wide, well-maintained shoulder also meets current demand at a fraction of the cost and without endangering visitors or wildlife.
Jasper Environmental Association July, 2017