With its list of plans for the northern half of Kootenay National Park nearly finalized, Parks Canada staff are getting ready to draft their wish list for the portion of the park closest to Radium Hot Springs.
Parks staffers Todd Keith and Trevor Kinley told Radium village council they hope to begin drafting an upgrade plan for the stretch of the park between the community and the Sinclair Pass this winter.
The mostly complete northern plan identifies various sites through the park that need reconstruction, and moves facilities from some areas to spots with higher traffic or greater need. For instance, the Dolly Varden trail would be upgraded to make it more friendly to mountain bikers, while picnic facilities at Wardle Creek could be moved to the Simpson River trailhead to create a more attractive stopping point.
Though the northern plan was the first developed, Keith told councillors both halves of the park will be prioritized equally when it comes time to dole out funding.
“There’s not a pot of money attached to this plan, but it would become the tool on a yearly basis to say, ‘what are we going to do in Kootenay this year?'” he added.
Meanwhile, plans to minimize wildlife collisions on Highway 93/95 are on hold until at least next year due to lack of federal funding.
Parks staff are planning to install a wildlife underpass and fence on a stretch of highway north of the Dolly Varden area.
“It’s the straightest stretch with the best field of vision in the park,” Kinley said, “and there’s also the most collisions.”
While the project was originally slated to go last year, funding has been held back until at least 2012. During the wait, Kinley says Parks Canada is hoping to talk with backcountry users, to ensure the wildlife fence won’t lock out people headed to the river.
“We want to make sure we’re not impeding anyone’s ability to get to their favourite fishing spot,” he said.
Kinley says he’d eventually like to see wildlife fencing along the highway throughout the southern half of the park, as well as a few spots in the northern half — a project that could take a decade or more to complete.