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Management Plan

14.0 SUMMARY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Mountain Eco-type - Woodland Caribou an endangered species, near Mt. Carson on the western edge of Glacier National Park.
Mountain Caribou
© Parks Canada/David Hamer/MRGNP collection #615-0965-D-059

The following summarizes the highlights of a separate report Environmental Assessment - Mount Revelstoke National Park of Canada, Glacier National Park of Canada and Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada Management Plan Draft 2002.

14.1 Background

In keeping with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, 1999), an environmental assessment was prepared to evaluate the effect of policies, programs, and proposed actions in this management plan. This assessment ensures that the plan is understood, that it complies with the Canada National Parks Act and Parks Canada’s policies, and that it improves ecological and commemorative integrity.

The management plan addresses issues at the local, regional and international level. The issues of greatest concern are:

Local:

  1. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway
  2. Valley bottom habitat loss and adequate old-growth forest
  3. Visitor facilities and use
Regional:
  1. Forestry operations, including access roads and fire suppression in the greater ecosystem
  2. Hydro-electric dams on the Columbia River
  3. Recreational access and facilities adjacent to the parks
  4. Species-at-risk
International:
  1. Dams on the US stretch of the Columbia River
  2. Climate change
  3. Long-range transport of air pollutants

14.2 Cultural Resources

Given the requirement to carry out environmental assessments of individual projects, the cumulative effects of the plan’s proposals and external stressors on cultural resources are not likely to be significant, provided Parks Canada’s cultural resource management policy is respected.

The plan includes a number of actions that respect the integrity of cultural resources by improving understanding and protection:

  • Assessment of impacts on archaeological resources, before projects begin, will ensure proper identification and protection of buried cultural resources and will provide guidance for appropriate mitigation measures.
  • Interpretive displays will increase the public’s awareness of the importance of cultural heritage.
  • Project specific environmental assessments, including recommended mitigations, are required before permits are issued to conduct archaeological inventories. This will keep the impact of these activities, on both natural and cultural resources, to a minimum.
  • The parks are committed to compiling an inventory of built heritage resources.
  • Maintenance of heritage buildings and structures, including stabilization, will respect Federal Heritage Building Review Office policies.
  • Restoring cultural landscapes and improving trails will offer opportunities to enhance presentation.

Some proposals (e.g., licenses of occupation for backcountry cabins and the transportation corridor) could have an impact on cultural resources. It is imperative to ascertain the existence of these resources before projects begin. The parks must also educate backcountry visitors about the importance of not disturbing cultural resources exposed by erosion and other processes.

It will not be possible to mitigate all the consequences of expanding the transportation corridor. Although the project will be subject to CEAA, the potential damage to cultural resources may be irreversible. Adequate research, recording and investigation are essential.

14.3 Contaminant Spills

Although more traffic may result in more spills of hazardous materials, with proper planning and prompt action including emergency response and clean-up, the effects are not likely to be significant.

The plan recommends the creation of a Transportation Advisory Committee to reduce the ecological impact of the Trans-Canada Highway and the railway. The Committee can identify mitigation for trucking/railway practices, including accidental spills of contaminants.

It is unlikely mitigation will eliminate spills, especially given an increase in traffic. With appropriate stakeholders, the parks must prepare and test Emergency Response Plans to ensure a prompt and efficient response minimizes the environmental effects of accidents. In addition, any spills that may attract wildlife must be cleaned up quickly to reduce mortality.

14.4 Water Quality

With proper mitigation and substantial cooperation among partners at the ecosystem level, the cumulative effect of the plan on water quality should not be significant.

The plan contains a variety of proposals to improve water quality:

  • upgrading the wastewater treatment plant;
  • research and monitoring;
  • a Transportation Advisory Committee;
  • facility improvements (e.g., drainage);
  • improving trails and infrastructure; and
  • water conservation.

Proposals allowing increased use of the backcountry may lead to contamination from the improper disposal of human waste. Educating visitors and establishing buffer zones could reduce the effect of these activities. Project-specific environmental assessments would identify appropriate mitigation.

The cumulative effects of the transportation corridor (bridges, run-off, pesticides, de-icers), forestry operations (siltation), dams and recreation adjacent to parks and the long-range transport of pollutants have a greater potential to affect water quality.

The Transportation Advisory Committee can play a key role in improving water quality by developing a set of best practices for the transportation corridor. Parks Canada must also collaborate with forestry companies to ensure adequate buffers around harvested areas protect surface waters flowing into the parks. Continued monitoring of pollutants in alpine lakes is required.


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