The following project descriptions are in alphabetical order. See volunteer opportunities for a chronological list of the current year's projects and dates.
For more information or to register as a volunteer for any of the following projects, phone 403 859-5133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating the name of the project you are interested in.
Volunteers receive free admission for the day when they participate in an event.
Orientation late May and then ongoing work as volunteer's time permits through mid-October.
That’s right! You can adopt and be known for your very own patch of the park, a World Heritage Site no less, by assisting our restoration crew in keeping that patch clear of particular invasive weeds.
Our specialists will train you and assist you in locating an appropriate patch to adopt. Then come work in it through the growing season as your time permits. Bonus – the scenic views and wildlife viewing are often great from the adopted patch.
Patches are at iconic park locations. Those focussed on pulling bladder champion are along the park’s most popular scenic-drive, the Red Rock Parkway. The rest are on the Prince of Wales Hill and the adjacent slope (fondly known as Salamander Hill), with Linnet Lake in between as a shaded lunch spot. Our goal is to rid that area of spotted knapweed, in time for the 2027 centennial of the Prince of Wales Hotel, which is now the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site.With over 1,000 native vascular plants, including rare plants and hundreds of colourful wildflowers, Waterton's diversity is truly special. However, introduced invaders threaten that natural beauty and wildlife, including habitat critical for the endangered half-moon hairstreak butterfly. Your efforts will help to keep Waterton's wildflowers blooming for visitors and the many animals, bugs, and birds that depend on them.
- Complete training to develop competence in plant identification, mechanical weed control and safety procedures
- On your own schedule, be available throughout the summer to visit and work in your adopted patch
- Visit the adopted patch to control weeds
- Fill out weed control forms when you work independently in your patch
- Use safety equipment provided and follow safety procedures
- Sign-out equipment for the season and return it promptly when finished
Busy Beaver clean-up crew
April through September
Contribute to keeping the park – A World Heritage Site - clean and pristine by helping Parks Canada staff remove old materials no longer needed in the outdoors and by picking up litter at trail heads, along roadsides and in the townsite. Sign up for one of the scheduled clean-up events or adopt a location and volunteer on your own schedule. You will be helping to reduce the risk of litter to wildlife and helping Parks Canada present nature at her best to the world. You will also be the extra eyes out there helping staff identify emerging problem areas for litter.
- Complete a short orientation and training session before working independently in the park.
- Adopt one or a couple of the sites listed by Parks Canada staff.
- Commit to at least a couple work sessions during the peak visitor seasons, May long-weekend through September.
- Complete and submit the tracking form when you work independently.
- Use safety equipment and follow safety procedures.
- Sign out equipment when needed and return it promptly when finished for the season.
- Dispose of litter at the appropriate locations, separating recyclables and non-recyclables.
Group volunteer projects
June to mid-October.
Waterton offers a variety of volunteer activities for organized groups and teambuilding outings.
Bring your office colleagues, extended family or Guide or Scout group to help clean a shoreline, host a special event or assist with park restoration by controlling invasive weed species with your coworkers for a morning or afternoon as part of a well-rounded day in the park.
Contact the volunteer coordinator to arrange a time and activity that suits your group.
Peace Park native plant garden
Orientation and first work bee, late May, then ongoing as volunteer's time permits through September.
Our native plant demonstration garden located in the Waterton community is a great introduction to native plants for visitors, the local community and volunteers alike.
The garden is maintained by volunteers. For 2021-22 it is being re-configured. Thus, additional help is needed.
- Attend an orientation session to learn the difference between native and weed species
- Available throughout the summer to work in the garden
- An interest in learning about the identification and care of native species
- Pull, cut and bag weeds. Mulch bare areas
- Remove dead stalks
- Identify and label species
- Assist with other tasks as needed, such seed collection and planting transplants
Salamander habitat hero
March/April - half day (some years, also third Saturday in September)
Approaching Waterton village, visitors pass through the land of the long-toed salamander and into their story. You can be a habitat hero in that ongoing story by helping to maintain the crossing structures first put in place in 2008 to reduce the salamander road kills during their movements to and from Linnet Lake. Long-toed and tiger salamanders, western toads and red-sided garter snakes will all benefit from your help.
The spring date is timed in an attempt to come after the snow has melted and before the spring rains when salamanders move from their wintering areas. Depending on the state of wood-debris cover for them along the lake shore, there may also be a September volunteer opportunity.
- Prepared for full half-day outside, including sturdy footwear and clothing layers suitable for the very changeable weather
- Able to perform repetitive, light physical labour (shovel work and bending over).
- Comfortable working on sloped terrain and along a roadway.
- Clearing obstructions from the byway tunnel entrances and putting accumulated soil and fine gravels into buckets for use to fill gaps.
- Filling any gaps under byway fencing using careful shovel work and between the fencing joins using a caulking gun (supplied).
- Pruning plants growing over or that have fallen over the byway fencing.
- Picking up (litter-picker supplied), bagging and removing any litter along the system.
Do it for the wildlife! Be a habitat hero. The seed of this tall, noticeable plant inspired the invention of Velcro. It sticks to wildlife (and visitors), and spreads to start another patch where wildlife feed and travel. That further impairs their habitat and public enjoyment.
The good news is that it is a biannual plant; only living for two years and producing seed in the second. Thus, this invasive plant can be controlled by removing the seed or flowers. Plus, the seeds are simple to remove. Being tall plants, it is also gentler on the back than controlling spotted knapweed.
- Ability to hike on easy trails or off trail through gentle terrain, up to a kilometre or two, to access the burdock patches
- Prepared for a half-day or full day outside
- Outer clothing that is of tight-woven material so the seeds won’t stick to you
- Interest in doing a repetitive activity to control and stop the spread of non-native plants
- Hike with your daypack and weed bags (provided) to the burdock patch
- Remove and bag burdock seed, while wearing work gloves, and if the conditions warrant, safety glasses and a non-medical face mask (all provided)
- Carry the comparatively light, filled bags out
Tree planting: limber pine
September - October.
Despite their naturally few numbers, this endangered species is an important part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. They are slow-growing and long-lived trees; preferring to grow on lower, windswept, open mountain slopes where sandstone outcrops through the surface or lies just below.
Their exposure and the elements give them a Bonsai look, but they have been no match for the adverse impacts of the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the effects of climate change.
If you are accustomed to hiking up slopes and off-trail, you can help park staff with the restoration of limber pine; by planting seedlings Some lower elevation sites are less demanding of the volunteer.
- Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Planting tools supplied by the park
- Be able to work up to a full 8 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting
- Hike to the planting location on a maintained trail and off trail with planting equipment. This could include crossing a creek with low flowing water
- Travel through the planting area carrying seedlings and planting equipment. This is off-trail and is often steep terrain that could be wet, slippery and/or snow covered
- Repetitive use of a spade to plant seedlings
- You may also help map where seedlings are planted for subsequent monitoring
Tree planting and monitoring: whitebark pine
Monitoring, June - August, planting, September – October
We are also in a race against time to save whitebark pines throughout the Rocky Mountains. These slow-growing, long-lived trees occupy windswept rocky slopes near tree-line, high up on the mountains where forest gives way to alpine. They are in danger of completely disappearing from Waterton Lakes National Park due to a combination of stressors: the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the threat of the native mountain pine beetles.
Interested volunteers can sign up earlier for training and to be on a contact list, as due to various factors, including weather, there often is only a few days’ notice for the actual planting dates.
This volunteer work, be it monitoring seedlings planted in prior years or planting new ones is for those physically fit enough to reach the heights where the whitebark pines grow and work all day in this backcountry splendor.
- Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Planting tools supplied by the park
- Be able to work a full 8 or 9 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting or monitoring
- Hike to the location where planting or monitoring will take place on a maintained trail or off trail. Could include crossing a creek with low flowing water or in some cases being ferried to the trailhead in the Parks boat or helicopter
- Travel through the planting area carrying planting or monitoring equipment. This is off-train and is often steep terrain that could be wet, slippery and/or snow covered
- If planting, repetitive use of a small spade and/or hoe-dads to plant seedlings
- You may also fill buckets with water and water seedlings, or help to map where seedlings are planted for subsequent monitoring
Wildflower and native grasses seed collection
Mornings, once a week, July and August
More than half the species of flowering plants recorded in Alberta can be found in Waterton Lakes National Park, making it an unsurpassed place to see flowering plants and help in the restoration of their habitat.
Waterton and Glacier National Park in Montana form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Staff and volunteers from the Peace Park collect native plant seeds. The seeds are then grown to seedlings at Glacier’s state-of-the-art nursery, after which they are returned to Waterton to help restore their grassland homes and fill our demonstration native plant garden.
- Bring food, water and appropriate footwear and clothing for half a day outside
- Travel to seed collection sites. In some cases, this may be a short hike and in other instances it may involve a few hours of walking. All sites will involve some off-trail hiking
- Learn to accurately identify specified plants and pull or cut and bag seeds