Park News

Guard Burning

January 2014

Guard burning in Waterton Lakes National Park
Guard burning near the Bison Paddock © Parks Canada

Park staff have burned a small area near the Bison Paddock to create fireguards. This was done to prepare for three prescribed fires this spring, intended to restore rough-fescue grass and reduce aspen and conifer encrouchment. Fireguards are planned barriers used to stop or slow the rate of wildfire spread. These small prescribed fires will continue throughout the winter.

Discover Waterton with Street View for Google Maps

November 2013

One of Google's Street View operators in Waterton Lakes National Park
One of Google's Street View operators © Parks Canada

In 2013 Parks Canada and Google began a two-year collaboration to document many of Canada's iconic national heritage places through the unique panoramic lens of Google Street View.

Google teams hiked along trails and through campgrounds, drove park roads, explored historic sites and even went inside notable buildings, all while photographing them as 360 degree panoramas destined for publication within Google Street View.

Now, after a productive summer of work, Parks Canada and Google are pleased to announce that you can go explore them for yourself.

Take a Street View tour of a Parks Canada location

Bison Paddock Fencing Improvements

August 2013

Bison Paddock Fencing Improvements Bison Paddock Fencing Improvements
© Parks Canada

Work has been completed to replace approximately 2 km of fencing of the Bison Paddock and expand the Winter Paddock by 24 ha on the southwest fenceline.

This is the fourth year of a five-year project to replace the fences, gates and bison-handling facilities.

Some of the fence was replaced from within the existing summer paddock, so visitors may have seen construction crews driving and working from a designated route from that road.

The current fence has 55-year-old wooden posts. It is being replaced with metal fence posts, expected to have at minimum a 50-year life span. Metal posts will also greatly reduce the risk of fence damage from a wildfire or prescribed burn.

There are currently 18 bison in the herd in Waterton Lakes National Park. The park has maintained a display bison herd since 1952, with strong public support.

The expansion of the Winter Paddock will reduce the impact of the bison herd on native grasslands and allow the park to maintain current stocking rates.

Secretive Salamander Subject of Search (and Research)

June 2013

Matt Adams studying salamanders in Waterton University of Alberta’s Matt Adams studying salamanders in Waterton
© Parks Canada

As you travel along the Entrance Parkway by the visitor centre, or go for a stroll around Linnet Lake below Waterton’s iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, you may notice some curious items placed about the landscape.

These items are being used to study the population of long-toed salamanders that breed in Linnet Lake.

In 2008, under-road culverts and an accompanying “salamander-crossing” sign were placed along the Entrance Parkway above Linnet Lake to reduce the number of vehicle-caused mortalities experienced by salamanders moving to and from the lake.

In the summers of 2013 and 2014, research will continue on this population of secretive salamanders, to assess the effectiveness of the culverts and to answer other questions relating to this species’ interesting life history.

You may see black drift-fencing strung around Linnet Lake, small funnel traps in the water, and electrical equipment on the side of the road used to monitor salamander movement through the culverts.

It is important for the success of the research that these tools are not handled or moved by visitors. You may also see University of Alberta’s Matt Adams or his field assistants maintaining this equipment or out looking for salamanders (especially at night).

Feel free to stop them for a chat - they love to talk about salamanders and the progress of the research! Don’t forget to be careful when driving this section of road at night, especially during or after a rain. That’s when the salamanders come out.

Prescribed Fires in Waterton Lakes National Park Cancelled

May 2013

Parks Canada will not be carrying out prescribed fires in the “Y-Camp” or other burn units in Waterton Lakes National Park this spring.

Parks Canada’s primary concern is the safety of people and protection of facilities. This afternoon, an Incident Command Team made the decision to cancel, based on forecasted high winds in the next few days. These fires are carried out by trained specialists when a set of predetermined conditions is met relating to weather, terrain, fire behaviour, fire control and smoke management.

The preparations that were made, including a fire line along the south boundary, can be used when the prescribed fire does proceed in future years. A review of the operation will include recommendations for other prescribed fire plans.

The area closure that was put in place for this Burn Unit is lifted.

Parks Canada has 30 years of experience reintroducing fires in national parks through well-planned prescribed fires that help sustain fire-dependent ecosystems.

The specific purpose of the fires planned this spring in Waterton Lakes National Park is to restore native prairie by reducing aspen and evergreen tree expansion onto grasslands. The overall goal of fire management in national parks is to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems, including the wildlife it supports, while protecting the public and facilities from wildfires.

Falls Theatre Native Plant Garden

Parks Canada has created a second native plant garden in the community of Waterton. This garden is planted with native species available in many local nurseries. It will promote water conservation and demonstrate the beauty of native plants. It will also help us learn more about challenges such as dealing with hungry deer and how to best establish different native plants.