National Parks

Southern Alberta is home to some of the most spectacular national parks in the world. From Banff to Waterton Lakes, our parks and wilderness are the pride of Canada. Join us to help keep them healthy, rich and beautiful for today and tomorrow.

Alberta’s national parks inspire us with nature’s beauty and are places to spend time with family and friends, learn about nature and enjoy heathy outdoor activities.  They are also critical as safe habitat for plant and animal populations away from the threat of human development and provide us with important environmental services, such as water, clean air and adaptation to climate change.

Morning at Peyto by Tom Nevesely


National parks also benefit local and regional economies. For every dollar governments spend on our national, provincial and territorial parks in Canada, more than five dollars are generated for the Canadian economy. In 2009, national parks in Alberta supported almost 14,000 FTE jobs in the province.

Canada's national parks are critically important for the conservation of plants, animals and natural processes and to connect people to nature. Dedicated by law to be used so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations, our national parks carry the legal mandate to be managed primarily for ecological integrity. CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter works to promote and protect our national mountain parks and ensure management reflects this mandate.

The threat

Alberta’s national parks are vital to our way of life, however if they are not properly managed and protected we are at risk of losing the great values they provide.  In the mid 1990’s, the Banff/Bow Valley study recognized the single largest challenge to ecological integrity in Banff National Park and other National Parks has been the growth of human infrastructure, in particular, growth in the river valleys. Federal budget cuts which have gutted scientific research and monitoring programs essential to protecting ecological integrity also threaten to our national parks.

Parks Canada’s own policy says that “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park's purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”(Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policy, section 4.1.3)

In recent years, more and more short-sighted decisions have been made to prioritize commercial interests over the long term ecological, social and economic benefits that come from conserving nature in well-designed, well-protected parks. 

In Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Parks a number of commercial developments have been approved including a theme-park like skywalk, a via ferrata, golf tournaments and large ski races.  This kind of inappropriate tourism and recreational development within our national parks threatens the well-being of ecosystems within their borders, while doing little to foster visitors’ appreciation for nature. There is little evidence that this infrastructure-focused development is what Canadians want for our national parks. These developments also set a dangerous precedent for more commercial development in our mountain national parks.

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS works with Parks Canada, local communities and other conservation organizations to promote the importance of our national parks and encourages people to experience their natural wonders.  The CPAWS Southern Alberta outreach team attends events throughout the province promoting connection to nature and love of parks. 

CPAWS Southern Alberta also has a classroom and outdoor education program called Discover Parks! designed to engage students in hands-on, curriculum-linked activities to discover, experience and become stewards of park ecosystems.

CPAWS Southern Alberta actively engages in providing recommendations on park management to ensure ecological integrity is the first priority, including commenting on the reintroduction of bison into Banff National Park and the seasonal closures of the Bow Valley Parkway.  CPAWS also comments on new proposed developments in our national parks, including overnight accommodation at Maligne Lake, a planned daylodge at Goat’s Eye Mountain in Sunshine Village ski resort, Mount Norquay’s via ferrata, ski guidelines and management plans, and the Discovery Walk in Jasper.

Take Action

Stand Up for Jasper
Stand Up for Jasper
A private company wants to build overnight accommodation at Maligne Lake, contravening Parks Canada’s policy prohibiting new commercial accommodation outside park town sites. Speak up for this iconic place.
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