State of the Park Assessment 2018: Executive Summary
Each national park requires a management plan that describes its vision and broad direction. The management planning process takes place every 10 years and involves: assessing the current state of park resources; determining key trends, pressures and opportunities; setting priorities; and seeking input from all Canadians. A standardized approach allows Parks Canada to compare parks and sites across the Parks Canada network.
Because national parks change over time in response to many factors, a state of the park assessment is the first step in the management planning process. It provides a ‘report card’ on the condition of natural and cultural resources and aspects of Parks Canada’s work in a national park and describes whether the condition shows an improving, declining or stable trend. Condition ratings are determined through on-going monitoring, surveys and other forms of feedback, gathered since the previous Yoho National Park Management Plan was approved in 2010.
Key indicators are grouped into six main themes–ecological integrity, cultural resources, external relations, Indigenous relations, visitor experience and built assets. Indicators are rated as:    Good   Fair   Poor
The State of the Park Assessment (SOPA) uses data from a variety of sources, such as ecological monitoring results, visitor surveys, attendance counts, and built asset inspections. Based on a review of key indicators, the following are the results for Yoho National Park:
Ecological IntegrityParks Canada protects natural places. When our places have ecological integrity, we’re succeeding. We evaluated a variety of measures for three important ecosystems in Yoho National Park to rate their overall condition.
Aquatic ecosystem Poor
The Aquatic Ecosystem: Frog, toad and salamander populations and water quality are in good condition. However, the overall rating is poor. This is due to the presence of non-native fish and old culverts in roadways that block fish movement. These problems reflect historic stocking of non-native fish and former road building techniques that failed to keep aquatic habitat connected.
Forest ecosystem FairThe Forest Ecosystem: Monitoring shows forest birds and mammals are doing well. Non-native plants found near disturbed areas like roadways and park facilities are competing with species normally found in the park. Also, after decades of fire suppression in the last century, Yoho’s forests are less diverse than they should be.
Alpine tundra ecosystem GoodThe Alpine Tundra Ecosystem: Birds, small mammals, and native plant populations are all in good condition. Mountain goat populations and the amount of available alpine habitat will be monitored and rated in the next SOPA.
Cultural Resources FairArchaeological sites are in fair condition. Restoration work for built heritage sites is underway at the former Superintendent’s residence in Field and the Takakkaw Falls Patrol Cabin. This will improve the condition rating of these buildings. Other heritage buildings in the park need additional review by experts before they can be rated. The condition of archaeological objects within Parks Canada’s collection is rated as fair because of corrosion or deterioration that occurred before the objects were collected. There is no risk of further deterioration.
External Relations Good Fair
Parks Canada staff brought Yoho’s stories to Canadians at a variety of events and venues in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. The number of contacts at these events has increased by 40% since 2016. For this reason, outreach is rated as good. Support for the park is measured by volunteer hours and is rated as fair. The number of hours volunteers gave to Yoho National Park projects has declined slightly since 2016.
Yoho National Park forms part of the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc peoples. Parks Canada is developing working relationships with the Secwepemc Nation and the Ktunaxa Nation Council which represents the Akisq’nuk, Aq’am, Tobacco Plains and Lower Kootenay community bands. These relationships are in a ormative stage. Indigenous relations indicators are not yet rated.
Visitor Experience Good
The number of park visitors has risen by 30% since 2011. In a 2018 survey, visitors rated all enjoyment and satisfaction measures highly. The ratings for several measures such as availability of services, pre-trip planning information and the value for their entry fees, fell slightly short of the 90% threshold for a good rating.
Built Assets Fair
Built assets are rated as fair for Yoho National Park. However, significant work is underway to improve them. Most of these improvements are not yet completed. When work is finished, the condition ratings for park assets are expected to improve.
Key Issues for Consideration in the Park Management Plan Review
The SOPA identifies key areas that require attention during the park management plan review:
Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
The condition of aquatic ecosystems is poor. The historical stocking of non-native fish in rivers and lakes continues to have a significant effect on aquatic ecosystems. Old culverts in roadways that block fish movement also remain a problem. Improving aquatic ecosystems will require more time and effort as infrastructure work requires a great deal of time and resources to complete.
Forest Ecosystem Restoration
Forests are in fair condition. Wildfire suppression in the 20th century has altered forest ecosystems. Returning fire to the landscape is a long-term effort. In recent years, wet forest conditions have limited prescribed fires. Then, when the forest was dry enough, resources were needed to fight wildfires elsewhere in the region. Protecting whitebark pine and controlling non-native vegetation will also improve forest ecosystem health.
Indigenous people are not involved significantly in the park. Parks Canada is working to advance reconciliation and develop relationships with Indigenous groups with traditional ties to Yoho National Park.
Built Asset Sustainability
The park built assets are in fair condition. Continued investment is required to improve their condition.
Cultural Resource Inventory: There is limited information on the condition of heritage buildings in Yoho National Park. Evaluation of buildings is needed to support the restoration and maintenance of heritage character.