Amidst the towering peaks and serene lakes of Canada’s mountain national parks, a concerted effort is underway. These parks, including Banff, Waterton Lakes, and Jasper, have taken the initiative to combat a less visible, but significantly impactful enemy – aquatic invasive species (AIS). To ensure the integrity of these ecosystems, Parks Canada has established AIS inspection stations, providing free watercraft inspections to all visitors.
A Joint Endeavour to Curb AIS Spread
Parks Canada is rallying the troops, calling on every visitor who enjoys recreational activities on the water to aid in the fight against the spread of AIS. Through this collective effort, the aim is to protect these vital ecosystems found within our mountain national parks.
In 2022, a comprehensive data collection initiative took place as part of the Parks Canada Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention program. This program encompassed five parks: Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park, Kootenay National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park. The results were disconcerting – approximately 13,000 non-motorized watercraft, like kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, had ventured into these park’s waters, bypassing the crucial “Clean Drain Dry” protocols. This oversight drastically escalates the risk of AIS invading the pristine waters of the Canadian Rockies.
Upholding the Protocols: Clean, Drain, Dry
The crux of the prevention strategy lies in adhering to a clean, drain, dry self-certification permit for all watercraft and associated gear. This system not only checks the spread of AIS but also fosters a sense of environmental responsibility among visitors.
In essence, the protocol requires that all equipment and gear are devoid of any mud, sand, plant, or animal matter. Additionally, each item, including coolers, buckets, and compartments, must be drained completely to eliminate any remaining water. Once cleaned and drained, gear should be left to dry for a minimum of 48 hours after use in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, or Canadian territories, or at least 30 days if used in the United States or other provinces.
Implementing Legal Measures for Non-compliance
Failing to comply with these regulations carries hefty consequences. Any violation of these regulations may result in charges under the Canada National Parks Act, with penalties reaching up to $25,000 (approximately $19,000 USD). This strict implementation underscores the seriousness of the issue and Canada’s unwavering commitment to preserving its unique ecosystems.
By adhering to these measures, every visitor plays a role in conserving Canada’s mountain parks, setting a remarkable example for other regions facing similar environmental threats. As we enjoy the beauty of these landscapes, we must remember our duty to protect them from the spread of aquatic invasive species.