8.0 A PLACE FOR PEOPLE
© Parks Canada/Rob Buchanan/MRGNP collection
Welcoming Visitors to the Columbia Mountains Natural Region
Visitors to Glacier, Mount Revelstoke and Rogers Pass discover a variety of opportunities to enjoy the Columbia Mountains. Many experience the wilderness on rustic trails, climbing routes and a scenic parkway that remain much the same as when they were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and other locations within the national historic site recount the dramatic story of 30 years of rail travel through one of Canada’s most challenging climates and rugged mountain environments.
Until the completion of the Trans-Canada Highway in 1962, Glacier and most of Mount Revelstoke were only accessible by rail, horseback or on foot. Today, four million people travel through the parks each year. About 15% stop at one or more park facilities or take a trip up the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway. A small number of these visitors stay for more than a day to camp, ski or backpack.
During the snow-free season, the backcountry is a relatively quiet place in all but the busy Illecillewaet/Asulkan and Eva Lake hiking areas. By contrast, winter recreation in Glacier has grown dramatically since 1995. The park has become a premier deep powder ski touring destination. Backcountry cabins are maintained by Parks Canada for public use. Glacier Park Lodge operates a year round hotel, restaurant, gas bar and convenience store at Rogers Pass. The Wheeler Hut, adjacent to the Illecillewaet Campground, is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada.
In the surrounding region, visitors have a choice of frontcountry and backcountry accommodation. In particular, the City of Revelstoke and the Town of Golden offer a range of tourist attractions and services. Recreation has also increased on neighbouring provincial land. Golden now has a commercial ski hill and the popularity of snowmobiling and heli-skiing continues to grow.
8.1 Providing Visitor Opportunities
Visitors have been a part of Mount Revelstoke, Glacier and Rogers Pass since they were established as protected areas. Visitors have an important role to play in protecting the parks and site. Through their behaviour and involvement in the parks and their action and support at home, members of the public can help to foster a sense of stewardship for national parks and historic sites.
As the number of visitors to the area increases, Parks Canada’s challenge becomes complex maintaining ecological and commemorative integrity while offering visitors an opportunity for a rewarding, enjoyable experience. During the past decade, through traffic has grown by 1% to 2% annually and the number of visitors is expected to continue to grow in proportion (figure 2). High numbers of visitors and crowding can affect ecological and commemorative integrity, and can have an impact on the quality of the experience for visitors. Demand already exceeds capacity at some facilities during the peak season - the Illecillewaet/Asulkan winter trailhead, the Illecillewaet summer trailhead, Giant Cedars boardwalk and the Balsam Lake parking lot.
To meet the challenges of increasing demand, Parks Canada will encourage appropriate activities, carefully plan and manage facilities and use, consult with users prior to closing any facilities, work with other agencies, monitor ecological and commemorative integrity, and engage Canadians through a renewed program of heritage presentation.
In mountainous areas such as Mount Revelstoke, Glacier and Rogers Pass, public safety is of paramount concern. Public safety is a shared responsibility. Visitors must take precautions that reflect the risk involved in their chosen activity. This involves knowledge of natural hazards, proper equipment and provisions, adequate skill and fitness, self-reliance and the ability to cope with emergencies. Parks Canada focuses on incident prevention through the provision of information that allows visitors to make informed decisions. Parks Canada staff gather information through field research, which is then communicated to potential visitors through media such as the daily avalanche bulletin in winter and trail reports in summer. Parks Canada will continue to work in partnership with others to communicate potential hazards to users and encourage them to be appropriately prepared. Parks Canada also maintains a readiness to respond to public safety incidents with park staff and other agencies.
Figure 2: Trans-Canada Highway Vehicular Traffic through Glacier National Park, 1960 - 2001
© Parks Canada
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Principles of Human Use Management
Human use management is the direction and guidance of visitors and their use of the parks and site - their numbers, their behaviour, their activities - and the infrastructure they require. The objective of human use management is to provide opportunities for use and enjoyment of the parks that are appropriate and consistent with the needs of visitors and the long term maintenance of ecological and commemorative integrity.
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