Some of you may have already heard about the proposed Jasper park backcountry closures that could fence off close to 20 per cent of the park to winter tourists.
Parks Canada plans to close large areas used by backcountry skiers to help preserve winter caribou habitat. The notion is compacted tracks by visitors can aid predators accessing areas used by
caribou in the winter. Woodland caribou are a threatened species in Canada, partly because of loss of habitat and human disturbance.
Many groups have opposed the proposal, saying it is not based on sufficient information or with enough input.
The decision could have major impacts for the Robson Valley. Backcountry skiers who are no longer allowed to ski in most of Jasper Park may find themselves shredding slopes over here.
But while the Robson Valley is blessed in some ways for not being a park, it also has to accommodate a greater variety of uses. Motorized recreation is big – and all types of backcountry recreation appear to be growing.
Finding a compromise for varied uses can be difficult. An ATV, a mountain biker and a hiker will never mix in some ways. Throw in concerns about the impact on the environment including wildlife, and
you’ve got yourself one giant diplomatic puzzle.
What’s important, I think, is not to pretend these conflicts don’t exist. Few people would like to see an entire area shut out to one or numerous user groups. Keeping a dialogue going can help find
compromises before things become black and white.
It’s not just a matter of respect. It’s a matter of teamwork and building unity. Fracturing our community along the lines of various user groups or the environment can cause harm that goes beyond
just this one issue.
So, let’s not be afraid to confront these issues head-on.