Care about the future of the Rocky Mountain National Parks? 10-year Draft Management Plans Now Open for Comment

Photo Credit: Rebecca Schortinghuis

Banff National Park Engagement

We have developed a comment guide that highlights the key issues in the 2021 Banff National Park Draft Management plan and provides guidance on how to submit your feedback via email.

May 26, 2021

Rocky Mountain National Park Draft Management Plans Open for Comment  

Every 10 years, Parks Canada reviews and updates management plans for National Parks. Public consultation is an important part of this process since these protected areas belong to all Canadians. The draft plans for Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Revelstoke-Glacier, and Waterton are now open for public consultation until July 7, 2021. The results of this public engagement phase will help to finalize the management plans, after which they will be approved and tabled in Parliament and used to guide the overall direction of park management for the next 10 years.  

The draft management plans build on the success of previous plans. Common themes across the parks include:  

  • Conserving Natural and Cultural Heritage for Future Generations 
  • True to Place Experiences 
  • Strengthening Indigenous Relations 
  • Connecting with Canadians 
  • Managing Development 
  • Regional Connectivity and Landscapes 
  • Climate Change and Adaptive Management 

Management plans are powerful tools for shaping the future of parks 

These management plans are critical documents that carry a great deal of influence for decades within park management and across the entire landscape. For example, two sentences in the last Banff National Park management plan spoke to the potential of reintroducing bison. That reintroduction has now become one of Parks Canada most successful conservation programs in the past decade. The last management plan for all parks also contained an objective to increase visitation by 2%, which arguably has led to some of the challenges that these parks face today with ever increasing impacts associated with high levels of human use.  

The current management plans are a great move forward for Parks Canada. They broadly recognize that high levels of visitation have created substantial challenges to the overall health of park ecosystems. The management plans also more directly recognize and appreciate the need to weave Indigenous Knowledge with western science in conservation and management programs. They also commit Parks Canada to collecting an array of data to address knowledge gaps in management. 

What can be improved in these draft plans? 

The management plans do address climate change and adaptive management, but this is one of the biggest areas where improvements can be made. The climate change and biodiversity crises should frame the entire management plan. There should also be a series of specific objectives that tie climate change research, modeling, and management to all aspects of park management. In the current draft plans, those connections are weak. Parks Canada manages some of the largest extents of roadless habitat with glaciers in North America, which hold great capacity for fighting against climate change. There is potential for Parks Canada to truly be a leader in climate change resiliency research and management initiatives.  

As with most management plans, there is a lack of tangible and measurable outcomes associated with some strategies. This is important because it allows all Canadians to hold Parks Canada accountable for these goals. When you read over the sections of the plan that interest you, think about how it could be more specific and include those details in your comments.  

Parks Canada manages a discrete landscape defined by boundaries on a map, but they are part of a much larger landscape. We would like to see more concrete objectives and targets on how Parks Canada will work with other land managing agencies and Indigenous groups. This is important when thinking about cumulative effects across the landscape, managing far roaming species at risk like grizzly bears and wild bison, as well as engaging Canadians in park management in ways that matter to them.   

Next steps for you 

If you have visited any of these parks in the past or plan to in the future – it’s important to share how you would like these spaces to be protected for the next 10 years. Though they may seem like large, complicated documents, you only need to focus on what YOU value for the future of these parks. Whether that be climate resiliency, wildlife protection, or something else. We encourage you to read these management plans and submit your comments.  

We will be working on a CPAWS Southern Alberta comment guide as well to help you question, comment on, and envision a resilient future for Canada’s Rocky Mountain National Parks. Keep an eye out for this in the upcoming weeks!  

The management plans and all supporting documents can be found at

The deadline to submit comments is July 7 so make sure you take the time to reflect on what you would like to see and submit your comments by then.