BANFF, AB, Dec. 4, 2021 /CNW/ - Protecting the ecological integrity of national parks is vital to conserving natural and cultural marine heritage, fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, and providing Canadians with opportunities to learn more about iconic cultural and natural settings.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, announced federal investments of $14.7 million over the next five years for conservation projects to prevent and manage aquatic invasive species in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Yoho national parks.
The mountain national parks are particularly vulnerable to aquatic invasive species due to the high amount of water recreationists who visit each year. Aquatic invasive species alter aquatic ecosystems, cause irreversible damage, impact vulnerable species at risk, and spread downstream beyond park boundaries through the interconnected river systems. Of particular concern for the mountain national parks are invasive mussels, which deplete available nutrients and in turn affects the entire food web by altering water chemistry and quality, as well as the parasite that causes whirling disease, which leads to skeletal deformities for native species. This investment will help address major threats to aquatic ecosystems by funding programs to prevent and educate against the spread of aquatic invasive species.
With the aim of creating a large-scale, cohesive program to keep waters safe, Parks Canada will continue to coordinate with provincial, state and federal agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in Alberta, British Columbia and Montana, and will work collaboratively with Indigenous groups, partners, and stakeholders to protect the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. These efforts will directly support the recovery of species at risk, including westslope cutthroat trout, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout; all native species there were once abundant in most major rivers and connected lakes emanating from the mountains.
The Government of Canada is investing in Parks Canada's Conservation and Restoration Program to support projects that make a difference on the ground in maintaining or restoring ecological integrity and helping the recovery of species at risk. Ensuring ecological integrity of Canada's national parks will help Canada work toward its goals of mitigating the impacts of climate change and protecting biodiversity, while providing Canadians with an opportunity to enjoy nature.
"Healthy rivers, lakes and streams support the health of the environment as a whole. With this investment Parks Canada is taking action to work collaboratively with Indigenous groups, provincial partners and many other stakeholders to support the protection of aquatic ecosystems and recovery of species at risk, while providing Canadians with opportunities to learn about and enjoy these protected places."
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"Our government is taking action to protect waterways in Alberta and British Columbia's beautiful national parks. We are helping to ensure our ecosystems remain protected for generations to come."
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault,
Minister of Tourism, Associate Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre
The Government of Canada's $14.7 million investment will be distributed over five years and the funding breakdown is as follows:
Aquatic invasive species are commonly transported by people. Other than limiting recreation in and on the water, ensuring all watercraft and recreational gear are properly cleaned, drained and dried before moving between water bodies is the highest level of protection against aquatic invasive species. Parks Canada encourages water recreationists to know the regional and local requirements before they arrive.
Clean, Drain, Dry certification is now mandatory in Banff, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Yoho national parks, and is a best practice for water recreationists across Canada:
SOURCE Parks Canada
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