by Andru McCracken
Elliot Ingles is the new Area Supervisor for Mount Robson Park and a host of smaller provincial parks throughout the area.
He hails from Jasper National Park, where he worked for 15 years.
Ingles admitted he has big shoes to fill.
“Hugo Mulyk and Wayne Van Velzen were great area supervisors and park rangers,” he said.
Ingles brings a variety of experience from Jasper, including park management, managing campgrounds, running the information centre, helping build the reservation system, and managing backcountry areas.
“When I was 21 I went out to Jasper to visit my sister ended up working for Parks Canada. It was just a summer job and after a month it swept me up,” he said.
Ingles, who has a background in education and communication, said each year his season got longer and longer.
“We had been in Jasper for a long time and we knew we weren’t going to be able to afford a house there,” said Ingles.
After house hunting for a year they bought a place in Valemount with the idea of commuting. But his wife landed a local job and he applied for work at Mount Robson.
“It just kind of came together; it felt like fate,” he said.
He said his experience and knowledge transferred really well to the Mount Robson supervisor job because he oversees huge volumes of people and works with the park operator and day use areas.
He says the main goal of the park is balancing conservation with recreation opportunities. One of the new initiatives Ingles took on this summer was aimed at reducing human wildlife conflict. Ingles and team developed signs for picnic tables at each site showing a clean campsite with food stowed in caches.
He said that many new campers often don’t understand what a campsite should look like at night and that the signs have been reducing the amount of food left out and the enforcement action they are taking.
He has a strong interest in human history, including the early guiding outfitting legends like Curly Phillips. He gets to work with the likes of Mac Cochrane and Brian and Eileen Wallace, who, as part of the Back Country Horsemen of BC, help keep routes like Moose River and Swift Current Creek open.
“They do trail maintenance for us,” he said. “They are incredible. We couldn’t do it without them.”
He also has a strong interest in indigenous history and prehistory.
“A focus for me at the beginning is strong partnerships and building relationships. Reconciliation with Indigenous people is so so important,” he said. “It is part of the future strategy for BC Parks.”
Ingles says First Nations have a stake in the parks and have resources and knowledge of the area.
“Working with Indigenous people enriches what we do,” he said. “Everything I do in the park starts with indigenous consultation. If a tree is getting cut down and a rock is getting moved in an area that is previously undisturbed, the first step is indigenous consultation.”
Ingles says deep consultation means things change slowly at the park, but he is okay with that.
“It takes longer, but it should take a long time. If things are happening in the park everything should be looked at, every plant, every animal, the impact it will have,” he said.
He said he will play a role in planning the future of the park and he will help decide the priorities.
“This is a list of everything we want to do in a dream world,” he said. “I have the ability to add a few things to that list.”