Waterton Lakes National Park receives $20.9M for Kenow Wildfire recovery efforts
The visitor centre at the entrance to Waterton Lakes National Park was destroyed by the Kenow wildfire on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Wes Dewsbery)
The federal government is investing $20.9 million to help Waterton Lakes National Park recover from the Kenow Wildire in 2017.
Kent Hehr, the MP for Calgary-Centre made the announcement in Calgary on Friday.
“This investment in Waterton will make a significant contribution to the wildfire recovery efforts in Waterton and ensure that Canadians continue connecting with the majesty of Waterton Lakes National Park for years to come,” said Hehr.
The Kenow Wildfires burned 38,000 hectares, which included about 20,000 hectares in Waterton Lakes National Park.
The fire damaged over 80 per cent of Waterton’s hiking trail network and more than 30 visitor and operational assets.
“The speed, the severity of the wildfire was extraordinary and resulted in the need to evacuate the national park. An almost unheard of step to ensure the safety of residents, visitors and staff,” said Hehr. “The fire impacts on the park were unprecedented and more work needs to be done.”
The money will be used to help with:
- The monitoring and protection of the park’s ecosystems
- To support research on cultural heritage in collaboration with Indigenous communities through conservation activities
- Re-establish the park’s appeal to visitors
The Kenow Wildfire damaged and destroyed visitor service’s infrastructure in the park and the initiative will fund key projects including; the rehabilitation of Red Rock Parkway, reconstruction of the Cameron Falls site and Bear’s Hump trail, restoration of the Crandell Mountain Campground and a research program.
Funds that were originally allocated for the Icefields Trail project in Jasper will be redirected to support the Waterton recovery effort.
“We look forward to using the resources best available to monitor and maintain the national parks, their integrity, with the best information we had and with extensive community consultation. With those two things in mind, the department made the decision to move ahead with the restoration and the reallocation of funds,” said Hehr.
The park is open and welcomed over 400,000 visitors in 2018. For more information on visitor experiences, click HERE.