Restoring Disturbed Sites
Restoring Disturbed sites © Parks Canada
Waterton Lakes National Park is committed to reducing impacts from its operational activities and facilities by restoring disturbed sites. As a visitor to the park, you can help too!
For example, in Crandell Mountain Campground some campsites have been marked with low fence rails and native plants have been added to trampled areas along their edges.
Trail shortcuts between sites and facilities in the campground, and in other areas like Red Rock Canyon and near the Visitor Information Centre, have also been planted to reduce the impact on the environment.
The park needs your cooperation as a camper and hiker. Please stay on established trails to help in the success of these restoration projects. In particular, watch out for signs marking restoration areas.
Restoration of these places will help maintain the attractive natural setting of the campground and trails, and will minimize the spread of non-native plants.
There may also be opportunities to volunteer with restoration projects.
In recent years the park has reduced its ecological footprint by:
- Removing several park residences that were located outside of the townsite;
- Consolidating various operational functions into one park operations building;
- Removing unnecessary buildings in the works compound;
- Removing the rear portion of the Townsite office and replacing it with a native plant demonstration garden;
- Creating a second native plant garden around the Falls Theatre; and,
- Consolidating park storage areas.
Creating a second native plant garden around the Falls Theatre © Parks Canada
Major projects have also been undertaken to restore the former Trade Waste Pit and the Park Storage area near the Marquis Hole. Both areas are relatively small (about the size of two city blocks); however, they are extremely important because they're located in the significant Foothills Parkland ecoregion.
Contaminated soil was removed from the Park Storage area and its road was closed. Natural processes are now free to re-shape the area. Groves of trembling aspen, which surround the site, reproduce by sending up shoots from their roots. These native trees have started to reclaim the area.
Restoring the Trade Waste Pit has provided an opportunity to advance our knowledge of techniques for restoring fescue grasslands. Seeds were collected from the surrounding area, propagated at the nursery in Glacier National Park (U.S.A.), and then planted in the disturbed grassland. Native grass seeds were also collected within the park and sown over the site.
Researchers, led by Dr. Anne Naeth from the University of Alberta divided the area into plots with different combinations of plants, grasses, fertilizers and mulch assigned to each square.
Since 2004, these plots have been monitored to see which methods produce the best results. The site has been heavily impacted by non-native plants, which has caused problems for native plant growth. Current research is focused on evaluating the best methods for non-native plant removal.
In particular, herbicide application, cutting, burning with steam, and burning with fire are being evaluated. The long-term monitoring continues and new studies are investigating the role of soil fungi as well as the performance of wild collected seed vs. native cultivars.
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