Friday, January 25, 2019

Feds announce $20.9 million for Waterton Lakes National Park post-Kenow Wildfire recovery

Kenow fire in Waterton Lakes National Park, September 2017 (Government of Canada photo)

January 25, 2019 - Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr today announced $20.9 million in funding for Waterton Lakes National Park to support its ongoing recovery from the 2017 Kenow Wildfire. Hehr did so on behalf of Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna.

I am pleased to announce that the Government of Canada is investing $20.9 million in Waterton Lakes National Park to assist with recovery from the significant impacts of the 2017 Kenow Wildfire. We are committed to protecting the park’s natural and cultural heritage and rebuilding important visitor infrastructure to ensure that Canadians can keep connecting with this special place, now and into the future. - Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr.

2017 aftermath of the Kenow Fire (C. Davis photo)

According to a Parks Canada Agency press release, "This investment in Waterton will help protect and monitor the park’s ecosystems as they recover from this natural disturbance, support research on the park’s cultural heritage in collaboration with Indigenous communities in various on-the-ground conservation activities, and help re-establish the park’s visitor offer, so that Canadians can continue to discover and connect with this incredible place."

“Canada’s national parks play a critical role in shaping our national identity, protecting nature and wildlife, and fighting climate change. In 2017, the tireless efforts of Parks Canada and partner agencies ensured public safety and protected property in and around the community of Waterton Lakes, but the Kenow Wildfire had a major impact on other areas of the national park. The funding being announced today will make a significant contribution to the wildfire recovery efforts in Waterton Lakes National Park.” - Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna
Aftermath, 2018, Chris Davis photo
“Since this devastating fire, I have met with residents, business owners and patrons of Waterton Lakes National Park. Throughout the hardship, our community has come together to rebuild and promote," said Foothills MP John Barlow.

According to Parks Canada, "Key projects will include rebuilding damaged or destroyed infrastructure essential for visitor services, including rehabilitation of Red Rock Parkway, reconstruction of the Cameron Falls site and Bear’s Hump trail, advancing Crandell Mountain Campground restoration, as well as an archeological research program to assess and analyze cultural landscapes and sites revealed by the wildfire."

"The funds originally earmarked for the Icefields Trail project in Jasper National Park are being re-directed, including to priorities within Parks Canada such as the funding being announced today to support post-wildfire recovery in Waterton Lakes National Park."
Former fenceline near Waterton Lakes National Park September 2017 (C.Davis photo)

"This funding will go a long way to rebuilding damaged infrastructure and assist in the recovery of the beautiful landscape. It is imperative to repair the fire damage to open trails and roadways within the park and invite the world back to Waterton Lakes National Park."

“I want to once again commend the Parks staff and the firefighters who came from throughout Alberta and BC to help battle the incredibly fast-moving fire. It was only through the dedication and tireless work ethic of the first responders that there was no loss of human life and the iconic Waterton townsite was saved.- Foothills MP John Barlow

Quick facts from Parks Canada:

In September 2017, the Kenow Wildfire burned roughly 20,000 hectares in Waterton Lakes National Park. The wildfire impacted approximately 38 per cent of the park, resulting in loss or significant damage to over 30 visitor experience and operational assets.  Following the wildfire, Parks Canada secured fire-affected sites, reopened the Entrance Road and townsite after addressing immediate hazards, and initiated preliminary hazard, ecological, and damage assessments. Parks Canada has assessed and cleared hazard trees and repaired damage in the areas that are now open to the public.

I commend the long-standing efforts of the local Chamber, business owners and community supporters to revitalize Waterton Lakes National Park as it is today. - Foothills MP John Barlow

Chris Davis photo, 2017

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