State of the Park Report
Table of contents
- Ecological Integrity Indicators
- Cultural Resource Indicators
- External Relations Indicator
- Indigenous Relations Indicators
- Visitor Experience Indicator
- Built Assets Indicator
- Appendix 1: Species at Risk Indicator
- Appendix 2. Key issue
Overview of indicators
“State of the Park” assessments are used to communicate the overall condition of key aspects of the park. The results reported in this assessment are based on monitoring data collected by Parks Canada for a suite of indicators used for consistent reporting across Canada’s national parks. These assessments are undertaken every ten years to support identifying key management issues to address in the next park management plan.
|Cultural resources||Archaeological Sites||Good|
|Buildings and Engineering Works||Fair|
|Incorporation of Traditional Knowledge||Poor|
|Terrestrial birds||Fair||Not rated|
|Multi-species mammal occupancy||Good||Stable|
|Regional motorised access density||Fair||Declining|
|Area burned condition class||Poor||Stable|
- Terrestrial birds are rated fair because 16% of species and 25% of guilds declined which is below the ecological threshold for good condition. To measure change, we identified birds by song annually at 130 sites from 2007-2016.
- Mammal occupancy is good and has remained stable. We use a grid of remote cameras across the Park to monitor species including grizzly and black bears, lynx, cougar and wolverine. Bear active management monitoring finds the number of grizzly/black bear-human interactions is increasing: the 5-year average number of conflicts was 43 leading to 2017 versus 10 in the period prior to 2010. Rising interactions signal increasing risk of stress and mortality for bears.
- Regional motorised access density indicator is fair and declining due to increasing motorised trails and industrial land use in the Greater Yellowhead region outside the park. In the Park, grizzly bear habitat security is in fair condition, and it has improved over the past ten years, due to land use and visitor management supported by research.
- Area burned is poor as the fire deficit has accumulated in the park over the past century in most habitat types. The area burned in old growth forest is appropriately low, resulting in good conditions for this habitat type. Fire and insect outbreaks are disturbances that shape the landscape; a current mountain pine beetle outbreak is altering forests and Parks Canada is monitoring these changes using aerial surveys to inform management actions.
- Parks Canada monitors elk numbers via annual roadside counts and aerial population surveys, every 5 years. The population declined from 410 in 2008 to 318 in 2018, but has been stable since 2012. Current density is low enough to support caribou persistence, but high enough to avoid concerns about elk population viability.
|Alpine extent||Not Rated||Not Rated|
|Alpine terrestrial birds||Fair||Not Rated|
- Whitebark pine is in fair and declining condition due to white pine blister rust and the mountain pine beetle.
- The woodland caribou population continues to decline. As of 2017, low numbers of females in South Jasper herds indicate the local populations face imminent extirpation.
- Glaciers throughout the park continue to retreat under the changing climate.
- The Alpine extent measure uses high resolution satellite imagery to determine the extent of trees, shrubs, meadows, bare ground, rock and ice. A baseline for alpine extent was established in 2012 against which a condition and trend will be assessed every ten years.
- Alpine birds are in fair condition because 10% of species declined from 2007 to 2016, while eight of nine guilds were stable or increasing, indicating this measure is on the margin of fair and good relative to threshold.
|Water quality||Good||Not Rated|
|Stream fish index||Good||Improving|
|Lake fish index||Fair||Not Rated|
- Amphibian populations remain in good condition with all species stable. Analysis highlights the importance of naturally fishless waterbodies.
- Water quality is good and was assessed by measuring the benthic invertebrate community and water chemistry at 30 randomly selected rivers in 2015/2016; thresholds are based on reference condition at pristine rivers in the park.
- Aquatic connectivity is fair and has improved from poor (<60% connected) condition over the past ten years: 61% of watershed catchment areas are now fully connected after 16 culverts were upgraded or were replaced with bridges.
- Parks Canada monitors the Athabasca River fish community using a boat electro-fisher and measures species diversity, density, and proportions of suckers -a keystone species- and native trout. Active monitoring of whirling disease is on-going; the disease is present in nearby watersheds, but not detected in the Park.
- Lake fish are in fair condition because the fish community in many lakes was changed by stocking of lakes with non-native fish until the 1980s. Currently, 53% of monitored lakes host their native fish communities.
|Buildings and Engineering Works||Fair||Stable|
|Landscapes and Landscape Features||N/A||Not applicable|
|Objects - Historical||Fair||Stable|
|Objects - Archaeological||Good||Stable|
Evidence of human activities in what is now Jasper National Park spans at least 9,000 years. The landscape includes travel corridors through the Rocky Mountains that were well-known to Indigenous people and later used by explorers and settlers. There are five National Historic Sites of Canada in Jasper National Park. These sites are described on the following page.
The park has more than 700 documented archaeological sites representing Indigenous and post-contact use. Monitoring of archaeological sites completed as needed on a limited number of sites, primarily in response to proposed development projects. The measure was rated as good in the 2008 State of the Park Report because the sites were in good condition, were largely intact and have a high level of protection through park zoning and regulations. These circumstances have not changed and archaeological sites continue to be rated in good condition.
Buildings and Engineering Works
There are 35 Federal Heritage Building Review Office (FHBRO) buildings in the park (excluding National Historic Sites). The condition of the buildings is assessed as: 5 good (14%), 27 fair (77%) and 3 poor (9%). The majority of listed buildings are in a stable, useable condition that requires only periodic maintenance. Improvements are planned to increase the overall condition rating of the buildings rated ‘poor’.
Landscape and Landscape Features
Cultural landscapes and landscape features in the park have not been formally identified, therefore this indicator is considered ‘not applicable’ at this time.
The condition has been rated for the 286 historical objects associated with the Jasper National Park collection. 190 are in good condition (66%), 91 are in fair condition (32%) and 5 are in poor condition (2%). Historical photographs are excluded from the rating of historical objects.
There are over 35,000 catalogued archaeological objects for Jasper National Park (excluding objects associated with Jasper House National Historic site which are described on the following page). The condition of the catalogued objects is ‘good’. There are an additional 70,000 objects that are uncatalogued, and have not yet had a formal assessment. The uncatalogued items consist mostly of lithic debitage (chippings from the making of stone tools) and bone fragments. All of these objects are stored in a secure, warm and dry environment that will limit their deterioration.
Athabasca Pass National Historic Site
Athabasca Pass spans the border between Alberta and British Columbia. For almost half a century the Athabasca Pass was part of the main fur trade route between Canada and the Oregon Country. There are three known archaeological sites and ten catalogued archaeological objects associated with this site. The archaeological objects are in good condition. A Management Statement for the Athabasca Pass National Historic Site was completed in 2017.
Jasper House National Historic Site
Jasper House was a provision post for fur trade brigades crossing the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. There are over 70,000 catalogued archaeological objects associated with Jasper House in the Parks Canada Archaeological database for Western Canada. These objects are in good condition. A Management Statement for Jasper House National Historic Site was completed in 2017.
Jasper Park Information Centre National Historic Site
The Jasper Park Information Centre was built in 1913-14 and is one of the earliest and finest examples of rustic design in the national parks. The condition of this Federal Heritage classified building is good. The six archaeological objects associated with the site are in good condition. The objects are stored offsite in Winnipeg and Calgary. A State of the Site Assessment for the Jasper Park Information Centre National Historic Site was completed in 2017.
Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site
The Maligne Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site was designated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 2014. The site illustrates the prominent role played by outfitters, guides and railways in the development of tourism in the mountain national parks. The plaque for the site was officially unveiled in 2017. The condition of this Federal Heritage Register classified building is fair.
Yellowhead Pass National Historic Site
The Yellowhead Pass was an important travel route for Indigenous people. The pass was used by the Hudson’s Bay Company from the mid-1820s to the early 1850s, and became part of the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern railway routes and a major highway crossing of the Rocky Mountains. There are numerous archaeological sites associated with the Yellowhead Pass National Historic Site. A Management Statement for the site was completed in 2017.
|Promotion - Events||Good||Improving|
|Support - Volunteers||Good||Stable|
Jasper National Park is proactive through public outreach, partnering, stakeholder engagement, media relations, and web and social media presence. Collaboration with Tourism Jasper, Jasper Partnership Initiative and Travel Alberta enhance the field unit’s capacity.
The volunteer program remains steady with more than 100 volunteers contributing approximately 2,500 hours each year.
|Measures||2016 - 2017||2017 - 2018|
|Consumer shows - Summer
* Events where contacts were recorded.
|Consumer shows - Winter
* Events where contacts were recorded.
|Travel Media Visits||29||6|
|Film Permits Issued||21||19|
Consumer Shows: Visitor contacts remained steady at consumer shows, with a reach of 4000 people each year. Outreach events have raised awareness about trip planning and reservations for camping at Jasper National Park.
|2016 - 2017||2017 - 2018|
|Jasper Field Unit Outreach Team||8,700||8,100|
|Vancouver Urban Outreach Team||96,310||83,568|
|What's the Connection (Impressions)||99,000||42,000|
Contacts increased based on event and venue selection within the Edmonton marketplace. Jasper National Park is an active participant and provides content to the Vancouver Urban Outreach Team. What’s the Connection Exhibit is an important non-personal outreach exhibit that is loaned to host venues. In 2016, it was hosted by several venues with very high visitation: Telus World of Science World (Vancouver & Edmonton) and Calgary Zoo. In 2017, the exhibit was hosted by a variety of regional nature centres in Alberta and the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops which have lower visitation levels.
Social Media and Web
|Measures||2016 - 2017||2017 - 2018|
|Facebook followers (English)||33,675||36,809|
|Facebook engagement (English)||90,926||75,538|
|Facebook followers (French)||550||612|
|Facebook engagement (French)||1,642||1,557|
|Twitter followers (English)||16,620||21,184|
|Twitter Engagement (English)||14,095||15,699|
|Twitter followers (French)||567||642|
|Twitter Engagement (French)||269||323|
|Website visits (En + Fr)||2,356,750||2,134,565|
|Website pageviews (En + Fr)||2,900,090||2,844,662|
Facebook followers increased at a steady rate with an 9% increase while Twitter followers increased by 27%.
Jasper National Park engages over 25 local Indigenous communities with historical ties to the park through the Jasper Indigenous Forum, and with the Upper Athabasca Valley Elders Council.
Representatives of nine communities engaged in the Jasper Indigenous Forum reflected on successes and challenges in Jasper National Park and rated nine Indigenous Relations measures at a workshop in 2018. The narrative below is based on their comments. No trend can be determined as this is the first time that the indicators have been rated.
|Indigenous collaboration in park planning and management||Fair||Not Rated|
|Indigenous collaboration in park operations||Fair||Not Rated|
Indigenous partners identify that the Jasper Indigenous Forum and the associated working groups have been a good model of collaboration and partnership with Parks Canada. Indigenous partners would like to see earlier consultation on projects, more collaboration in park operations, and more Indigenous staff.
|Indigenous partner access to park traditional lands and activities||Fair||Not Rated|
Indigenous partners identify that access to the park has improved for cultural and traditional activities. The development of the Cultural Use Area, free park access for partner communities, and cultural use permits for harvesting have been positive steps forward. Partners note that at times there has been a lack of understanding between park staff and Indigenous partners, for example, when entering the park and when harvesting plants in the park.
|Team member commitment to building mutual respect, trust and understanding with Indigenous partners||Fair||Not Rated|
|Extent of reconciliation with local Indigenous communities||Fair||Not Rated|
Indigenous partners identify that Parks Canada has made progress towards reconciliation; however there is still a lot of room for improvement. Partners shared many perspectives about what reconciliation means. Partners suggest that Parks Canada should recognize and apologize for removing Indigenous peoples from what is now Jasper National Park as a step towards reconciliation.
Incorporation of Traditional Knowledge
|Incorporation of Traditional Knowledge||Poor||Not Rated|
|Use of Indigenous languages||Poor||Not Rated|
Indigenous partners identify that there is very little integration of Traditional Knowledge in park monitoring or in project impact assessments. Likewise, there has been little use of Indigenous languages in park signs, interpretive panels and park publications.
Support for Indigenous Communities
|Economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples||Poor||Not Rated|
|Capacity building for Indigenous peoples||Poor||Not Rated|
Indigenous partners identify that some contracting opportunities have been made available to Indigenous people. Partners would be interested in opportunities to work with Parks Canada staff to build capacity, for example through traineeships or practicums in the park.
The ratings for the Visitor Experience indicators are based on regular Parks Canada attendance data and the Jasper National Park Visitor Information Program (VIP) survey completed in 2018. The trends reflect change relative to the previous VIP survey conducted in 2011.
|Attendance (Person visit)
The condition of this indicator is rated as good because attendance has exceeded visitation targets.
Parks Canada will continue to monitor growth in attendance as it could affect congestion, enjoyment and satisfaction in some areas of the park.
|Enjoyed Visit – 97%||Good||Stable|
|Satisfaction with Quality of Services – 94%||Good||Stable|
|Satisfaction with Quality of Activities – 96%||Good||Stable|
|Satisfaction with staff: Being Courteous – 97%
Staff welcome – 93%
Meeting needs – 95%
Responding to complaints – 91%
Demonstrating passion – 89%
|Satisfaction with Condition of Facilities – 90%||Good||Stable|
The majority of visitors continue to enjoy their visit to the park, surpassing the goal of 90% set in the 2010 Park Management Plan.
Satisfaction with the quality of services and activities, with Parks Canada staff and with the condition of facilities continues to be strong.
|Learned Something -72%||Good||Stable|
Learning scores are generally lower, consistent with other national parks. 72% of visitors to Jasper National Park report that they learned something about the plants and animals of the park.
|Overall Visit Satisfaction -96%||Fair||Stable|
|Satisfaction with Information Prior to Arrival- 87%||Fair||Stable|
|Satisfaction with Value for Entry Fee – 85%||Fair||Improving|
Overall, visitors are very satisfied with their visit. Two elements of visitor satisfaction, satisfaction with information prior to arrival and satisfaction with value for entry fee, are on the high end of the fair range, but have shown improvement since the 2011 visitor survey.
|Dams - High Hazard Dams, Significant Hazard Dams||Fair||Not Rated|
|Highways - Highways||Fair||Not Rated|
|Marine Structures - Locks, marine rails, walls, wharves and docks.||Good||Not Rated|
|Roads - Special attraction roads and access roads to visitor facilities||Fair||Not Rated|
|Vehicular Bridges - Highway and Roadway Bridges, Canal Bridges, Crossing Structures||Good||Not Rated|
|Visitor Facilities - Campgrounds, Day-use Areas, Trails, Parking Lots, Pedestrian & Trail Bridges||Fair||Not Rated|
Jasper National Park has over a thousand assets spread throughout. Built assets found throughout the park include buildings, highways, roads, bridges, campgrounds, and trails.
The majority of built assets are concentrated within a short radius around the Jasper townsite, however there are also numerous backcountry assets.
This is the first year that built assets have been included in the State of the Park Assessment. As such, no trends can be established.
Buildings are in fair condition with recent investments. Buildings such as the Information Centre, Train Station, staff housing and the Operations Compound require some investment.
Cabin Lake Dam serves the community of Jasper as a backup water supply for potable use and emergency fire protection. The condition of the Dam was improved through a maintenance intervention in 2015-16.
Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) is the only highway in the park. The highway is rated as fair thanks to significant investment and the completion of numerous rehabilitation projects.
Marine structures (lake docks) are in good condition and represent a small portion of the asset portfolio.
Roads are rated as fair thanks to increased investment in category 3 - 6 roads in recent years (e.g. Icefields Parkway, Sixth Bridge Road).
Vehicular bridges are rated as good thanks to significant rehabilitation in recent years.
Visitor facilities are in fair condition. Investment continues to improve visitor facilities such as trails, campgrounds, and day use areas throughout the park.
|Species||Conservation Target *||Outcome|
|Common Nighthawk||Identify and protect nest sites and habitat.Goal of implementing at least two species at risk targeted prescribed fires every five years.||On track: Occupancy at seven sites confirmed. Prescribed fire plans prepared for three grasslands.|
|Haller’s Apple Moss||Implement fire and trampling protection measures for the two known populations.||On track: Surveyed in 2011 and 2016: stable. Cooperative project initiated.|
|Bats||Manage cave access to protect bats, maternity roosts and hibernacula. Implement decontamination protocols to protect against spread of White-nose Syndrome. Protect important bat sites in buildings.||On track: Permit system, BMPs for bats in buildings, decontamination protocols are being implemented.|
|(Little Brown and Northern Myotis)||Compile existing data and survey to identify and prioritize sites that have high potential to be hibernacula or maternity colonies and determine their significance.||On track: Status determined for known maternity roost and hibernacula caves.|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Implement prescribed fire to improve/create species at risk habitat. Goal of implementing at least two species at risk targeted prescribed fires every five years.||On track: Prescribed fires plans prepared for four areas that are olive-sided flycatcher habitat.|
|Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow||Recently added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. No target yet established.||A 2018 inventory found active bank and barn swallow nests in JNP.|
|Whitebark Pine||Plant 2,600 disease-resistant seedlings by 2019||On track:1,370 seedlings planted (>2,000 seedlings to be planted in 2018)|
|Ensure > 60 % seedling survival after two years||On track: First seedlings planted in 2017 will be measured in 2019|
|Restore two hectares of habitat by 2019||On track: Mechanical thinning planned for 2018-2019|
|Woodland Caribou, Southern Population||Work with partners to determine next steps for augmentation for the South Jasper caribou herd||On track: Supporting material drafted and work with partners on-going|
|Reduce threat of predator access to high quality caribou habitat by managing extent and timing of human activities||Reached: Delayed access has been implemented since 2014|
|Implement guidelines for aircraft flying over caribou habitat||Reached: Aircraft flight guidelines in place|
|Reduce highway-caused mortality||Reached: Temporary caribou speed zones in place. No mortality reported since 2008|
|Continue implementing actions to address unnatural ungulate distribution and abundance||On track: Elk monitoring indicates a low and stable population|
Changes in species conservation status or trends
There are nine species in Jasper National Park (JNP) listed on Schedule1 of the Species at Risk Act. Three are endangered, six are threatened. Seven of these species are currently addressed in Jasper National Park’s 2017 Multi-species Action Plan.
Key information and threat
- White pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, and fire suppression are the major threats facing whitebark pine.
- Caribou habitat loss and degradation from both human-caused and natural sources, and increased predation, have resulted in declining numbers of caribou throughout their range. The south Jasper populations are at imminent risk of extirpation.
- The most significant threat to little brown myotis and northern myotis is white-nose syndrome.
- Probable significant threats to olive-sided flycatcher and common nighthawk include reduced availability of insect prey and fire suppression, as well as deforestation and land conversion in habitat areas outside the park.
Results of management actions
- Common nighthawk were detected at seven locations using automated recording units and an additional four locations were identified with opportunistic sightings.
- Active bank swallow colonies were identified and characterized at ten locations that supported an estimated 160 active nesting burrows in 2017. Ten active barn swallow nests were found at 9 locations and 30 inactive nests were found at 14 locations.
- Haller’s apple moss critical habitat and population surveys in 2011 and 2016 determined the two park populations are stable. A cooperative project with research partners in 2018 aims to inform how to reduce trampling and fire threats.
- Whitebark pine
- Cone caging and seed collection from potentially resistant parent trees within JNP and subsequent propagation in a nursery and out-planting are on-going.
- Blister rust trials to confirm resistant status of parent trees.
- Resistant trees have been protected from mountain pine beetle since 2015.
- Wolf density is at a level at which caribou herds are more likely to be self-sustaining (<3 wolves /1000 km2).
- Elk density is at a level (25 elk /1000 km2) that supports a low wolf population and favours caribou persistence.
- An assessment of the feasibility of captive breeding is ongoing.
- Non-invasive population monitoring techniques are being used by Parks Canada.
- Closures have been implemented on trails that access important caribou habitat during the early winter. Wolf monitoring indicates closures have successfully reduced wolf travel in caribou winter habitat. The closures have effectively eliminated packed trails into these areas.
Completion of recovery documents or other legal requirements
Recovery strategies have been approved for woodland caribou, Haller’s apple moss, common nighthawk, and olive-sided flycatcher. Proposed recovery strategies are prepared for little brown and northern myotis and whitebark pine. Critical habitat was identified in recovery strategies for Haller’s apple moss and woodland caribou; it has been identified for little brown and northern myotis and whitebark pine in proposed recovery strategies.
Area burned condition class is poor in the park. Wildfire is crucial to a well-functioning ecosystem in our ecoregion. Parks Canada has completed prescribed burns over the last ten years to safely improve habitat quality, restore ecological processes and reduce wildfire risk. We will continue to protect facilities, carry out prescribed burns and are also implementing a wildfire risk reduction program for community and visitor protection around Jasper townsite to address elevated risk as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Invasive species and disease
Climate change is further exacerbating the spread of invasive species and disease and the impacts are expected to worsen in coming years. Invasive species and disease, in particular, white pine blister rust, whirling disease, and non-native plants are threatening species and ecosystems in Jasper National Park.
Woodland caribou are an endangered species. The population of woodland caribou are rated ‘poor’ in the park and herd numbers continue to decline. The South Jasper herds are at risk of disappearing entirely and numbers are so low that the herds are unable to recover on their own. Parks Canada is assessing the feasibility of augmenting the South Jasper population to recover these herds. We are also monitoring the A La Peche herd with the Province of Alberta.
Indigenous Relations Indicators are rated fair to poor. Local Indigenous partner communities have highlighted the need for Parks Canada to further develop opportunities to participate in park planning and operations, promote access to traditional lands, incorporate traditional knowledge and languages in the park, and to foster economic opportunities and capacity building for local Indigenous communities.
Landscape change beyond park boundaries
Regional Motorised Access Density has increased outside park boundaries. While multi-species mammal occupancy monitoring indicates the park is large enough to support healthy populations of large mammals, grizzly bear and caribou are particularly sensitive to changes in habitat and mortality risk associated with roads. Parks Canada actively participates in regional planning initiatives to support conservation and sustainable land use in the broader region.
Parks Canada monitors the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems in the park, and effects have been detected for the glacier and whitebark pine measures and active management monitoring of mountain pine beetle. The Athabasca Glacier is one of the world’s most accessible glaciers and it provides an opportunity for millions of visitors to witness the effects of climate change, and to understand the rapid retreat of the glacier over the past century.
Increasing congestion at popular sites and demand for campground reservations suggests that high visitation may affect other aspects of Parks Canada's mandate. For many years, our innovation and effort, have allowed us to successfully mitigate most impacts through education, enforcement, active management of visitors and wildlife, and various infrastructure upgrades. To address increasing demand, additional management actions will be required.
Built asset sustainability and adaptability
Recent investments have allowed for the rehabilitation of many roads, highways and visitor facilities in the park. Continued investment is needed to ensure that Jasper's asset base supports the delivery of Parks Canada's mandate and is able to successfully adapt to changing visitor needs and climate conditions.
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