Multi-species Action Plan for Banff National Park of Canada [Proposed]
Parks Canada Agency. 2017. Multi-species Action Plan for Banff National Park of Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Parks Canada Agency, Ottawa. iv + 30 pp.
For copies of the action plan, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, recovery strategies, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species At Risk Public RegistryFootnote 1.
Cover illustrations: Whitebark Pine – T. Keith / Parks Canada; Olive-sided Flycatcher – Dominic Sherony (learningcommons.org); Woodland Caribou – Parks Canada; Little Brown Myotis - T. McAllister / Parks Canada; Westslope Cutthroat Trout – Bill Hunt / Parks Canada; Common Nighthawk – Larry Halverson; Banff Springs Snail – Amar Athwal / Parks Canada.
Également disponible en français sous le titre :
«Plan d’action visant des espèces multiples dans le parc national du Canada Banff [Proposition] »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, 2017. All rights reserved.
ISBN ISBN to come
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Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
The Parks Canada Agency led the development of this federal action plan, working together with the other competent minister(s) under the Species at Risk Act. The Vice President, Operations, upon recommendation of the Field Unit Superintendent, hereby approves this document indicating that the relevant Species at Risk Act requirements related to action plan development have been fulfilled in accordance with the Act.
A/Field Unit Superintendent, Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay Field Unit, Parks Canada Agency
Field Unit Superintendent, Banff Field Unit, Parks Canada Agency
The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996)Footnote 2 agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of action plans for species listed as Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened for which recovery has been deemed feasible. They are also required to report on progress five years after the publication of the final document on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
Under SARA, one or more action plan(s) provides the detailed recovery planning that supports the strategic direction set out in the recovery strategies for the species. The plan outlines what needs to be done to achieve the population and distribution objectives (previously referred to as recovery goals and objectives) identified in the recovery strategies, including the measures to be taken to address the threats and monitor the recovery of the species, as well as the proposed measures to protect critical habitat that has been identified for the species. The document also includes an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation. The action plan is considered one in a series of documents that are linked and should be taken into consideration together with the COSEWIC status reports, recovery strategies, and other action plans produced for these species.
The Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency (the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change) is the competent minister under SARA for the species found in Banff National Park and has prepared this action plan to implement the recovery strategies as they apply to the park, as per section 47 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with local First Nations, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the province of Alberta as per section 48(1) of SARA.
Implementation of this action plan is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
Thanks are owed to all those who participated in the development of this action plan. The contributions of those who took part in the site-based analysis workshops in March2014 and January2016 are greatly appreciated.
The Multi-species Action Plan for Banff National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the park and within the Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch federal Crown property administered by Parks Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan that regularly occur at these sites.
Park-specific objectives for species at risk are identified in this plan and represent the site’s contribution to objectives presented in federal recovery strategies. Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are protected by existing regulations and management regimes in national parks as well as by SARA. Additional measures that will contribute to the survival and recovery of the species in the park are described in this plan. These measures were identified based on threats and actions outlined in federal and provincial status assessments and recovery documents, as well as knowledge of the status and needs of each species at the park. Population monitoring measures are also identified for the species for which management activities at the sites can contribute to recovery objectives.
No new critical habitat is identified in this action plan. Critical habitat for some species has been identified previously in their respective recovery strategies. Measures used for protection of existing critical habitat are described.
Measures proposed in this action plan will have limited socio-economic impact and place no restrictions on land use outside of Banff National Park. Direct costs of implementing this action plan will be borne by Parks Canada. Indirect costs are expected to be minimal. Benefits include opportunities to engage with and benefit from traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, including the potential to fill knowledge gaps and enhance and strengthen relationships. Additional benefits include positive impacts on park ecological integrity, and greater awareness and appreciation of the value of biodiversity to Canadians.
Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Table of contents
- 1. Context
- 2. Site-based population and distribution objectives
- 3. Conservation and recovery measures
- 4. Critical habitat
- 5. Evaluation of socio-economic costs and benefits
- 6. Measuring progress
- 7. References
Canada’s national parks protect a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. Parks Canada is responsible for managing these special places for the benefit, education and enjoyment of Canadians, while ensuring that they are protected and maintained so that they are left unimpaired for future generations.
With over a century of accomplishments in establishing and protecting national parks, Parks Canada is a recognised world leader in conservation. Canada’s national parks afford a high level of protection to plant and wildlife species that rely upon these lands for their habitat. National parks also provide a unique opportunity to engage Canadians in learning and stewardship activities focused on species at risk. The conservation of species at risk, using both ecological measures and educational programs, is an important part of the day-to-day work of Parks Canada.
This Species at Risk Action Plan describes the work that Parks Canada is doing in Banff National Park as part of the larger national park conservation program to put vulnerable species on the path to recovery. It is one of the tangible ways Parks Canada protects species at risk, while providing ways to connect and educate Canadians about the endangered wildlife and plants found in these special places. Parks Canada will take a leadership role in implementing this action plan, but its full potential will be achieved by working with others, including Indigenous Peoples, park visitors, neighboring landowners, businesses, local residents and other Canadians.
Banff National Park protects 6,641km2 of the Eastern Ranges and Main Ranges of the Rocky Mountains, extending from the peaks and glaciers of the Continental Divide to the mid-elevation montane forests of the Bow River Valley and the east slopes. The park is adjacent to Kootenay and Yoho national parks and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park to the west. These parks, together with Jasper National Park and Mount Robson and Hamber provincial parks, form a 20,069km2 protected area that has been designated the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. There are also several Alberta provincial parks and wilderness areas adjacent to the east boundary of the park.
Banff National Park encompasses the entire upper portion of the Bow River watershed, and the North Saskatchewan River watershed. Park elevations range from approximately 1300m where the Bow River exits the park, to nearly 3500m along the Continental Divide. Precipitation levels decrease from west to east, and snowfall in particular is more abundant near the divide. The main ecosystem disturbance factors are wildfire, forest insects, avalanches, and fluvial erosion and deposition. This complex mountain landscape supports diverse ecosystems that include alpine meadows, moist subalpine forests, open shrub avalanche slopes, rich riparian zones and alluvial flats, and open montane forest and grassland. These ecosystems support a high diversity of species, a number of which are at risk, or are of conservation concern.
“Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks” (Canada National Parks Act s. 8(2)). Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are therefore protected by existing national park regulations and management regimes. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) prohibitions protecting individuals and residences apply automatically when a species is listed, and all critical habitat in national parks and national historic sites must be legally protected within 180days of being identified.
Recovery measures for species at risk will be integrated within the framework of the park management plan and ecological integrity program. National parks maintain comprehensive, scientifically rigorous ecological integrity monitoring and restoration programs that are organized according to the major ecosystems present in the park. The recovery measures described in this action plan are organized in the same manner. Parks Canada’s ecological integrity programs make contributions to the recovery of species at risk by providing inventory and monitoring data, and through the implementation of habitat restoration projects and other conservation measures. The species-specific measures outlined in this plan will in turn contribute to maintaining and improving the ecological integrity of Banff National Park by improving the conservation status of native species and their habitat.
In addition to status assessments, SARA recovery strategies have been completed for Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population), Woodland Caribou (Southern Mountain population), Banff Springs Snail, Common Nighthawk and Olive-sided Flycatcher, while a proposed recovery strategy has been prepared for Little Brown Myotis. A recovery strategy for Whitebark Pine is currently under development. These documents provide guidance for the recovery of individual species, including strategic directions, recovery objectives, identification of critical habitat to the extent possible, and threats. This action plan was developed and will be implemented in a manner that is consistent with these recovery documents, and should be viewed as part of this body of linked strategies and plans.
1.1 Scope of the action plan
The geographic scope of this action plan includes all lands and waters managed by Parks Canada in Banff National Park. It also includes the Ya-Ha-Tinda ranch, a federal Crown property managed by Parks Canada (Figure 1). The following seven national historic sites are also included in this action plan where they are wholly or partly contained within the boundaries of the park:
- Howse Pass National Historic Site (Banff National Park portion)
- Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site (Banff National Park portion)
- Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site
- Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin National Historic Site
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site
- Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site
- Banff Park Museum National Historic Site
This multi-species action plan has been written specifically for Banff National Park because Parks Canada is legally responsible for species at risk on park lands and waters, has the ability to take direct conservation action, and deals with different threats, legislation, and management priorities than areas outside the park. The advantage of a multi-species action plan is that it can minimize redundancies while allowing for coordination of key actions affecting multiple species at risk where these actions overlap in space or time.
Action plans are legally required for all SARA Schedule 1 listed endangered and threatened species once a final recovery strategy has been published on the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry. This action plan is a SARA action plan (as per SARA s.47) for five species: Woodland Caribou, Westslope Cutthroat Trout (AB population), Banff Springs Snail, Common Nighthawk and Olive-sided Flycatcher. This action plan is also consistent with current direction in the proposed recovery strategy for Little Brown Myotis, and the draft recovery strategy for Whitebark Pine.
This action plan addresses SARA-listed species that regularly occur in Banff National Park which (will) require an action plan under SARA (s.47) (Table 1). The plan will be amended as required, or additional plans will be prepared, to meet future SARA requirements for action planning.
|Species||Scientific Name||SARA Schedule 1 Status|
|Banff Springs Snail||Physella johnsoni||Endangered|
|Common Nighthawk||Chordeiles minor||Threatened|
|Little Brown Myotis||Myotis lucifugus||Endangered|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Contopus cooperi||Threatened|
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout (AB population)||Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi||Threatened|
|Whitebark Pine||Pinus albicaulis||Endangered|
|Woodland Caribou (Southern Mountain population)||Rangifer tarandus||Threatened|
Figure 1: Banff National Park
2. Site-based population and distribution objectives
The potential for Parks Canada to undertake management actions at the park that will contribute to the recovery of each species was assessed. Site-specific population and distribution objectives (Appendix A) were developed to identify the contribution that the park can make towards achieving the national objectives presented in federal recovery strategies. Monitoring activities that are directly linked to the site-based population and distribution objectives are also reported in Appendix A. If there is little opportunity for the park to contribute to the recovery of a species, site-specific objectives and conservation measures may be limited to protection measures in place under the Canada National Parks Act and SARA, population monitoring, and habitat maintenance or restoration through the existing management regime at the site. This is the case for Olive-sided Flycatcher, where population and distribution objectives for Banff National Park are not meaningful at the scale of this action plan because threats cannot be controlled in the park or do not exist in the park (e.g., loss of overwintering habitat elsewhere, migratory impacts), and the population within the park is a very small part of the Canadian distribution.
3. Conservation and recovery measures
Banff National Park is situated within a large protected area complex – the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Its western and northern borders are functionally invisible, as similar levels of habitat protection occur within adjacent protected areas. The eastern and southern boundaries of the park, however, are potentially more significant for species conservation as adjacent lands are managed for a variety of different land uses that affect habitat in various ways. Forest harvesting, wildfire suppression, suburban development, motorized recreation, ranching, gravel extraction, mining, and roads are significant contributors to landscape change in the surrounding area. The Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch is separated from the larger protected area and is surrounded by provincial Crown land. Collaboration with adjacent land managers and owners will be important to conserving cross-boundary species at risk.
The main threats to biodiversity within the park and surrounding region include the introduction of non-native and invasive species, habitat loss or degradation (for example through historical fire suppression, or damming/diverting watercourses), increasing development pressures in the region, and wildlife mortality related to highway and railway corridors (Parks Canada 2008, 2010). Climate change is also likely to have a significant influence on the biodiversity of the park over the medium to long-term (Parks Canada 2008). For several species included in this action plan, the known principal threats originate outside the park, and actions taken within the park will have a limited impact on species recovery. For other species there is greater potential to implement measures that can contribute to their recovery. The causes of population decline for Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Banff Springs Snail, Woodland Caribou, Little Brown Myotis and Whitebark Pine are well known, while the causal factors responsible for the decline of Olive-sided Flycatcher and Common Nighthawk are poorly understood. For all these species there are actions that can be taken by Parks Canada to contribute to their protection and where feasible their recovery within Banff National Park.
Banff National Park receives an estimated 3.9million visitors a year, and visitation in 2015-16 rose by 7.9% relative to the previous year. There are approximately 10,000 permanent residents living in the park communities of Banff and Lake Louise. This provides a significant opportunity to engage Canadians in understanding and contributing to species at risk recovery. There are three alpine ski resorts, and numerous outlying commercial accommodations in the park. Popular attractions include the Banff townsite, three commercial ski areas, the Banff hot springs, Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, and the Icefields Parkway scenic drive. Communication efforts that target some of these areas will optimize the potential to engage and connect with Canadians to build awareness of species at risk, and to encourage them to get involved in recovery efforts.
This action plan identifies measures to achieve the site-based population and distribution objectives, along with measures required to protect the species and gather more information about them. The list of measures that will be implemented is presented in Appendix B. These measures were evaluated using a ranking system, and all of the measures received either a medium or high priority. The ranking process considered the ecological effectiveness of measures, along with opportunities to work with partners, engage visitors, and connect with external audiences. Wherever possible, Parks Canada is taking an ecosystem approach, prioritizing actions that benefit more than one species to effectively and efficiently protect and recover species at risk.
Several themes are reflected in these measures: active management; disease management; filling knowledge gaps; and, working together in endangered species recovery. These themes and related conservation measures are discussed briefly below.
Habitat restoration through active management is important to ensuring the viability of Whitebark Pine. The habitat required by this species is vulnerable to forest ingrowth by other tree species, particularly where natural fire cycles have been disrupted through fire suppression. Climate change may also contribute to increased competition with other plant species. Restoring natural fire cycles on the landscape is an important strategy for ensuring the persistence of high quality Whitebark Pine habitat. Reducing forest ingrowth by the restoration of fire may also benefit Common Nighthawk, as this species nests on the ground in open forest and grassland habitat, and Olive-sided Flycatcher, as this species prefers a mix of live and dead trees within a mosaic of forest patches of different age structure particularly near wetlands. Parks Canada is internationally recognized for leadership in restoring fire through prescribed burning and continues to conduct burns and manage wildfire as part of a national restoration program.
Habitat restoration through active management is also key for Westslope Cutthroat Trout. One of Parks Canada’s goals for this species is to restore water flows and connectivity in areas where Westslope Cutthroat Trout habitat has been affected by dams and culverts in ways that negatively affect habitat availability or population viability. Good success has been demonstrated by removing or repairing both culverts and dams (e.g. 40Mile dam removal). The main threats to Westslope Cutthroat Trout are competition with non-native trout (e.g. brook trout), and hybridization with non-native rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. To ensure the survival of pure Westslope Cutthroat Trout (≥ 0.99 pure), these non-native fish species must be removed from the aquatic ecosystem in areas that historically supported naturally occurring Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Effective removal of non-native fish has already been demonstrated successfully at several locations within Banff National Park. These proven active management techniques can now be applied strategically at additional key sites to further advance the recovery of this species at risk.
Active management will also be important for Woodland Caribou, which has been extirpated from Banff National Park. The proximate cause of this extirpation was small population effects and a stochastic event (an avalanche) that killed the last remaining population. The broader cause was population decline related to a change in predator-prey dynamics linked to habitat alteration in the larger landscape external to the park. Restoring caribou to the park may require an active re-introduction effort supported by a multi-partner, multi-jurisdictional captive breeding program. This may be more challenging than augmenting existing populations, such as those in Jasper National Park. Caribou recovery efforts in Banff National Park will be contingent on the availability of captive-bred animals, and the persistence of a sufficient amount of suitable habitat with low predation risk. Old growth forest is a seasonal habitat requirement for this species. Careful management of the fire regime will be essential to ensure a suitable range of forest patches of varying stand ages across the landscape over time. Any future re-introduction of caribou would be coordinated with the work of other mountain parks as part of Parks Canada’s Conservation Strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou (Parks Canada 2011).
Parks Canada’s active management efforts have already restored Banff Springs Snails at two thermal spring sites within the species’ native range (Kidney Springs and Upper Middle Springs). Banff Springs Snails now occupy all viable thermal spring sites within their native distribution. Maintaining these sites may require decisions about repeated active re-introductions if thermal pools dry out temporarily and snail populations are affected. Key active management efforts for the Banff Springs Snail are focused presently on continued human use management (education, compliance and enforcement) to prevent direct impacts to snails and their habitats.
The Common Nighthawk is a ground-nester, and their nests may be susceptible to accidental trampling, or harassment by off-leash dogs. If Common Nighthawk nesting sites are identified, active measures may be required to protect those nests and birds from direct disturbance. This could potentially include human-built structures, such as flat, gravel rooftops, as this species has been observed elsewhere nesting on this type of substrate.
Three exotic invasive diseases threaten three native species covered in this plan. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an introduced fungal disease affecting numerous species of bats, including Little Brown Myotis. It has had a devastating effect on bat colonies in eastern North America, and has recently been discovered in Washington State. Addressing the threat of WNS to Little Brown Myotis in the park will be critical to the persistence of the local population. The Canada National Parks Act General Regulations prohibit anyone without a permit from entering a cave or mine in a national park, and decontamination protocols are in place for anyone granted a permit. Compliance with these measures will reduce the risk of human transmission of the disease into potential hibernacula. White pine blister rust is another introduced fungus that is affecting 5-needle pines in North America, including Whitebark Pine. The identification and propagation of blister rust resistant trees, followed by the planting of these trees in suitable habitat is the key strategy to maintain persistence of Whitebark Pine on the landscape. Efforts to identify resistant trees are underway. Whirling disease, caused by a non-native parasite that affects some freshwater fish species, has recently been discovered in some waters of Banff National Park. This parasite, and other aquatic invasive species, present emerging challenges to the persistence of Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Parks Canada is working with other partners on a strategy to better understand and mitigate the negative effects of this parasite.
Filling knowledge gaps
Inventory and monitoring work is required to fill gaps in the knowledge base necessary to build programs for some species at risk. For example, more data are required to determine occupancy and population estimates, and to identify potential maternity roosting and hibernating sites for Little Brown Myotis. More information is also required on populations and nesting sites of Common Nighthawk and Olive-sided Flycatcher. More precise data are required on the spatial distribution of Whitebark Pine within the park. Increased understanding of the genetic status of Banff Springs Snail will aid potential active management in the event of local extirpations caused by drying events. Caribou re-introduction will require low predation risk. Monitoring of wolf movement and habitat use within caribou range is providing additional knowledge on this critical factor. Identifying which lakes had natural populations of Westslope Cutthroat Trout, and which lakes were stocked with native or non-native fish can be determined by studying environmental DNA in alpine lake sediments. This is important knowledge that can help focus and prioritize recovery efforts. Working with Indigenous communities may allow the incorporation of traditional knowledge to fill knowledge gaps for some species.
Engaging others in recovery of species at risk through involvement of Indigenous communities, partnering efforts, visitor experience opportunities, and outreach activities is an important component of this multi-species action plan. The potential reintroduction of southern mountain caribou to the park can only proceed by working with partners to support recovery efforts throughout the species’ range. Through on-site interpretation efforts, park visitors can learn about endangered species and how personal behavior can contribute to species protection. By gaining awareness and knowledge, visitors can take an active role in recovery actions. Anglers can learn how to identify and safely release a Westslope Cutthroat Trout, while being encouraged to support efforts to remove non-native fish. Observant visitors can contribute occurrence data on birds, bats, and healthy Whitebark Pine, provided they know what to look for. Communication efforts can increase awareness and encourage stewardship and compliance with regulations and conditions for activities such as tree falling, building demolition and cave entry. These will be important recovery measures for Little Brown Myotis, which may be vulnerable to habitat loss or unintentional spread of white nose syndrome due to human actions. Similar efforts will continue for Banff Springs Snails, which are vulnerable to human disturbance of thermal pools. Engaging Indigenous communities may create opportunities to incorporate traditional knowledge and work together on specific recovery actions for species at risk. Education and awareness programs will also target external audiences. This is critical, as most of the species that are included in this action plan are found regionally beyond the park boundaries. External communications may also help to build support for species at risk generally.
4. Critical habitat
Critical habitat is “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species” (SARA s.2(1)). Critical habitat is identified in the recovery strategies for Banff Springs Snail, Woodland Caribou, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout. The proposed federal recovery strategy for Little Brown Myotis provides a partial definition of critical habitat as any hibernacula used by these bats at least once since 1995. Critical habitat for Whitebark Pine is still being defined during the development of the federal recovery strategy. The final recovery strategies for Olive-sided Flycatcher and Common Nighthawk do not identify critical habitat due to data deficiencies at this time. No additional critical habitat has been identified within Banff National Park for any of the species included in this plan (as of January2016). As more knowledge about habitat needs, and more data about habitat use by these species is gathered, additional critical habitat may be identified in an upcoming or revised action plan or revised recovery strategies for the species. Refer to the schedule of studies in relevant recovery strategies for further details.
4.1 Proposed measures to protect critical habitat
Critical habitat identified in other recovery documents within Banff National Park or the Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch property, will be legally protected from destruction as per SARA (Sec. 58 (1)).
5. Evaluation of socio-economic costs and benefits
The Species at Risk Act requires the responsible federal minister to undertake “an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation”.
The total cost to implement the multi-species action plan for Banff National Park will be borne by Parks Canada out of existing salaries and budgets, and national ecosystem restoration project funding. This includes incremental salary costs, materials, equipment, and contracting of professional services for measures outlined in Appendix B. No major socio-economic costs to partners, stakeholders or Indigenous Peoples are expected as a result of this action plan. Specific project implementation will be contingent on funding being allocated through the park’s annual business planning process, or from alternative funding sources such as Parks Canada’s national Conservation and Restoration program (CoRe). Some funding for Westslope Cutthroat Trout actions may come from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Some recovery measures are already being implemented in the park. The other proposed measures will be integrated into the operational management of the park and there will be few new costs. These costs will be covered by prioritization of existing funds and salary dollars at the park and therefore will not result in additional costs to society.
The action plan applies only to lands and waters in Banff National Park and the Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch, and does not include any restrictions to land use outside the boundaries of these areas. This action plan, therefore, will not result in any significant socio-economic impacts to the public. Minor restrictions may be placed on visitor activities on park lands and waters where they are considered necessary to protect and recover species at risk.
Measures presented in this action plan for Banff National Park will contribute to meeting recovery strategy objectives for threatened and endangered species. These measures are expected to have an overall positive impact on ecological integrity and enhance opportunities for appreciation of the park by visitors and the general public. Opportunities to engage with Indigenous communities and incorporate traditional knowledge could yield significant benefits for species at risk. Other measures in the action plan could result in additional benefits to Canadians, such as yielding positive impacts on biodiversity, and contributing to the value individuals derive from preserving native species and ecosystems.
The proposed measures seek a balanced approach to reducing or eliminating threats to species at risk populations and habitats, and include protection of individuals and their habitat (e.g., restrictions to human activities within areas occupied by the species, combined with ongoing research and monitoring), potential species re-establishment (e.g. caribou reintroduction, planting Whitebark Pine, and restoring Westslope Cutthroat Trout), and increasing public awareness and stewardship (e.g., interpretive signage, visitor programs, and highlights in communication media).
Potential economic benefits of recovering species at risk found in the park cannot be easily quantified, as many of the values related to these species are non-market considerations that are difficult to evaluate in monetary terms. Biodiversity has intrinsic worth, and may be valued by Canadians for aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historic, economic, medical, ecological and scientific reasons. The conservation of species at risk is an important component of the Government of Canada’s commitment to conserving biological diversity, and is important to Canada’s current and future economic and natural wealth.
Maintaining healthy ecosystems and a full range of native biodiversity is a key component of visitor experience in Banff National Park. Wildlife viewing is the most common visitor activity in the park and this helps support the economic health of the communities in the Bow Valley. The vast majority of people travelling to Alberta include a visit to the mountain national parks in their trip.
Implementing this action plan is expected to have positive benefits for park visitors, local residents, and Indigenous Peoples. Some activities in the plan may create opportunities for people to become involved in the recovery of species at risk and for cooperation and community partnerships in species at risk recovery. These include opportunities to learn about and take part in the recovery of species at risk, opportunities for visitors, stakeholders and local communities to be involved in conservation issues, opportunities for integration of Indigenous traditional knowledge into biodiversity conservation, and greater awareness of Indigenous values and culture among local residents and visitors to the parks. In doing so the plan supports the goals under the Species at Risk Act which states: “the traditional knowledge of the aboriginal peoples of Canada should be considered in the assessment of which species may be at risk and in developing and implementing recovery measures”.
6. Measuring progress
Reporting on implementation of the action plan, as required by the Species at Risk Act (s. 55), will be done by assessing progress towards carrying out the specific measures outlined in the appendices. Reporting on the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the action plan will be done by assessing progress towards meeting the site-based population and distribution objectives.
Environment Canada. 2016. Recovery strategy for Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa, vii + 49p.
Environment Canada. 2016. Recovery strategy for Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa, vii + 52p.
Environment Canada. 2015. Recovery strategy for Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), and Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) in Canada (Proposed). Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. 110 pp.
Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery strategy for Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) in Canada (Draft). Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2014. Recovery strategy for the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), Alberta populations in Canada [Final]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, 28p.
Lepitzki, D.A.W. and C. Pacas. 2010. Recovery Strategy and Action Plan for the Banff
Springs Snail (Physella johnsoni), in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy
Series. Parks Canada Agency, Ottawa. 63p.
Parks Canada Agency. 2011. Conservation strategy for southern mountain caribou in Canada’s national parks. Parks Canada Agency. 30p.
Parks Canada Agency. 2010. Banff National Park management plan. Parks Canada Agency. Ottawa. 175 p.
Parks Canada Agency. 2008. Banff National Park of Canada – state of the park report. May2008, 55p.
Appendix A: Species information, objectives and monitoring plans for species at risk in Banff National Park.
|Species||National objectives||Site-based population & distribution objectives||Population trend in BNP (2010-2015)||Population monitoringFootnote3||General information and broad park approach|
|Banff Springs Snail||To maintain self-sustaining populations of the Banff Springs Snail within the species historic range.||Maintain self-sustaining populations and habitats by mitigating human-related threats.||Fluctuates annually but populations are persisting at all viable sites.||Protection of individuals and critical habitat through area closures of some thermal pools, education, surveillance and enforcement.|
Populations have been successfully restored to all viable sites within the species historic range (e.g. Kidney Spring & Upper Middle Spring).
|Common Nighthawk||In the short-term, halt the national decline by 2025, while ensuring the population does not decrease more than 10% over this time. In the long-term (i.e., after 2025) ensure a positive 10-year population trend. Maintain the current extent of occurrence in Canada.||Maintain occupancy of Common Nighthawk at confirmed sites in appropriate habitat in the park.||Unknown. Breeding confirmed.||Report presence through incidental observations, including those found on external databases such as eBird.||Opportunistically identify nest sites and bird activity. Focus efforts in areas where nest protection measures may improve nest success.|
Outreach, education and potential seasonal activity restrictions may help prevent accidental nest destruction from off-trail recreation and may limit disturbance in confirmed breeding areas.
Fire and invasive plant management programs may contribute to enhancing nesting habitat.
|Little Brown Myotis||The distribution objective is to maintain the pre-WNS extent of occurrence. Within areas not yet affected by WNS, the population objective is to maintain (and where feasible increase) the current level of the population.Footnote 4||Data deficientFootnote 5, but thought to be stable.||WNS has not yet spread to Banff. Primary conservation approach is to identify important habitat, in particular hibernacula and maternity roosts, and prevent the human transmission of WNS to these sites.|
Protection of individuals and residences.
Continue to actively manage cave access (permit required) and use decontamination protocol to deter the spread of WNS through human vectors.
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Short term: To halt the national decline by 2025 while ensuring that the population does not decrease more than 10% over this time.|
Long term (after 2025): To ensure a positive 10-year population trend. Distribution objective is to maintain the current extent of occurrence in Canada.
|No objectives established: Nests and birds are protected by the Canada National Parks Act and the Migratory Birds Act. Fire management practices may provide more nesting habitat. Banff is of limited importance to the species national recovery.||Declining, based on breeding bird surveys.||Protection of individuals and residences.|
Fire management program may be used to enhance habitat.
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||Protect and maintain the existing ≥ 0.99 pure populations at self-sustaining levels, and re-establish additional pure populations to self-sustaining levels, within the species’ original distribution in Alberta.||Unknown, but likely declining. Westslope Cutthroat Trout have disappeared from at least 30% of the historic range in the park.||Work collaboratively with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Alberta provincial government to restore genetically pure, self-sustaining populations within the historic range by removing non-native fish species that compete and/or hybridize with Westslope Cutthroat Trout.|
Prioritize populations based on threats, recovery potential of waterbodies (based on evaluation of thermal suitability (cold) and existence of barriers that prevent invasion of non-native fish), and determination of occupancy through the use of models and identification of genetically-pure source populations.
|Whitebark Pine||To establish a self-sustaining, rust-resistant population of Whitebark Pine throughout the species' range that demonstrates natural seed dispersal, connectivity, genetic diversity and adaptability to changing climate (DRAFT).||To establish a self-sustaining, rust-resistant population of Whitebark Pine throughout the species' range in the park that demonstrates natural seed dispersal, connectivity, genetic diversity and adaptability to changing climate.||Infection and mortality rates have increased from 2003 to 2014. White pine blister rust is distributed throughout the park.||Assess stands to identify trees that are potentially resistant to white pine blister rust.|
Collect and conserve seeds from potential blister rust resistant trees; test for resistance; plant resistant trees.
Forest management practices such as prescribed burning, thinning and wildfire impact mitigation can be used to protect and restore habitat.
|Woodland Caribou, southern mountain population|
To achieve self-sustaining populations in all local population units (LPU) within their current distribution, and to the extent possible:
|For the Jasper/Banff National Park LPU, achieve stable to increasing numbers to a minimum of 100 animals (as defined in the Southern Mountain Caribou Recovery Strategy) as a step towards achieving self-sustaining local herds in which natural processes (dispersal, migration) can occur. Where caribou have been extirpated, examine opportunities for restoration.||Extirpated.|
The last five known caribou in the park were killed by an avalanche in 2009.
|Conduct research and monitoring on predator-prey dynamics in and adjacent to caribou habitat;|
With partners, investigate potential for re-introduction of caribou to the park. Reintroduction would be considered in the context of the broader Conservation Strategy for Southern Mountain Caribou.
Appendix B: Conservation and recovery measures that will be implemented in Banff National Park.
|Species||Measure #||Measure||Desired outcome||Threat or recovery measure addressed||Timeline|
|Common Nighthawk||1||Implement measures (e.g. best management practices, seasonal closures if required) to protect known nest sites and known nesting habitat from destruction or disturbance.||Individuals and their nests are protected from direct disturbance during the breeding season.||Habitat disturbance and destruction.||Ongoing.|
|Common Nighthawk||2||Identify breeding and nesting sites opportunistically, targeting high probability sites, and encourage the public to share observations.||Knowledge of species distribution, and in particular, nesting areas, informs park management.||Direct disturbance or harm; habitat destruction.||Ongoing|
|Little Brown Myotis||3||Determine the distribution and relative abundance of Little Brown Myotis, with emphasis on identifying hibernacula and maternity roosting sites.||Habitat loss.|
Exotic invasive species (WNS).
|Little Brown Myotis||4||Limit spread of white-nose syndrome by sharing protocols (such as the Canadian National White-Nose Syndrome Decontamination Protocol) for cave researchers, and maintaining access restrictions, to protect bats and their residences.||Disturbance or harm.|
Exotic invasive species (WNS).
|Little Brown Myotis||5||Disturbance or harm; destruction of hibernacula or maternity roosts.||Ongoing.|
|Little Brown Myotis||6||Enhance current communications aimed at raising awareness, and develop targeted communications in support of actions to prevent disturbance, disease transmission, and potential human-caused mortality.||Habitat loss or degradation; Disturbance or harm (recreational or scientific); Invasive species (WNS).||First 5 years.|
|Whitebark Pine||7||Invasive non-native / alien species (white pine blister rust); Problematic native species (mountain pine beetle).||Ongoing. Identify rust-resistant stands in high risk areas by 2019.|
|Whitebark Pine||8||Invasive non-native / alien species (white pine blister rust); Problematic native species (mountain pine beetle); Fire and fire suppression||Predictive map completed by 2017.|
|Whitebark Pine||9||Invasive non-native / alien species (white pine blister rust); Fire and fire suppression||Ongoing.|
|Whitebark Pine||10||Protect and, where feasible, increase the number and extent of existing stands and of blister rust resistant individuals through habitat management and restoration.||Fire and fire suppression;|
Problematic native species (mountain pine beetle)
Beyond 2019 if additional funding is available.
|Whitebark Pine||11||Continue communication activities aimed at increasing awareness of, and reducing human-caused impacts on, Whitebark Pine as outlined in the CoReFootnote 6 Whitebark Pine conservation project.||Human intrusions and disturbance; recreational activities; commercial development – tourism and recreation areas.||Ongoing.|
|Woodland Caribou||13||Work with partners to determine next steps for augmentation of the Jasper/Banff Local Population Unit in Jasper National Park, and investigate the feasibility of re-introduction within the historic range in Banff National Park. Prioritize actions based on assessment of conditions including predator-prey dynamics, predation risk, and translocation recovery priority of other caribou populations (e.g., British Columbia).||Increasing population trend for one herd in short-term (3-5 years post beginning of herd augmentation) and other herds to follow. Herds are self-sustaining in the long-term.||Small population effects.||2016-2021.|
|Woodland Caribou||14||Monitor and manage predator-prey populations and distribution.||Predator-prey processes and densities within and adjacent to caribou range are understood, and are at levels conducive to caribou recovery, as identified in critical habitat requirements.||Altered predator-prey dynamics.||Ongoing|
|Woodland Caribou||15||Habitat loss; altered predator-prey dynamics.||Ongoing|
|Woodland Caribou||16||Reduce threat of predator access to high quality caribou habitat by managing extent and timing of human activities.||Maintain safe and secure high quality habitat, without human-facilitated predator access.||Direct disturbance; facilitated predator access.||Dependent on re-introduction of caribou.|
|Woodland Caribou||17||Continue communications activities delivered as part of ongoing efforts to communicate and raise general awareness about Woodland Caribou.||Facilitated predator access, direct disturbance, habitat loss, small population effects.||Ongoing.|
|Banff Springs Snail||18||Increase understanding of snail genetics to better inform both emergency response options and considerations for repeated reintroduction in response to extirpation of current populations as a result of thermal water failure (natural drying events).||Knowledge of genetic structure and distribution of snail populations.||Thermal water flow – stoppages, reductions or fluctuations.||Next 5 years|
|Banff Springs Snail||19||Ensure continued protection of snails through current measures which include a combination of area closures, surveillance, public education and enforcement.||Maintain healthy populations of snails throughout historic range with minimal human disturbance.||Human disturbance.||Ongoing.|
|Banff Springs Snail||20||Monitor current distribution. Through active management (two reintroductions) and natural dispersal, the Banff Springs Snail now occupies all viable habitats within its known native range. Continued baseline monitoring will track changes over time at an annual scale.||Adequate knowledge to assess health of populations and to determine if active management efforts are required.||Thermal water flow changes; stochastic events.||Annually.|
|Banff Springs Snail||21||Human disturbance.||Ongoing.|
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||22||Conduct research on the ecology and genetics of Westslope Cutthroat Trout to help identify critical habitat, understand threats and develop restoration techniques.||Learn more about the life history and habitat needs of Westslope Cutthroat Trout to inform management and conservation. (e.g. paleolimnological investigations on populations where uncertainty exists concerning origin of fish in a waterbody).||Hybridization & competition with non-native species, habitat loss and/or loss of habitat connectivity.||Ongoing.|
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||23||Hybridization and competition with non-native species.||Short-term: 5 years.|
Long-term: every 10 years.
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||24||Remove non-native fish populations, if logistically feasible, when and where they threaten Westslope Cutthroat Trout via hybridization (e.g. rainbow trout) or direct competition (e.g. brook trout).||Competition and hybridization, habitat degradation.||Short-term: 5 yrs.|
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||25||Re-introduce pure Westslope Cutthroat Trout as habitat is made available (through removal of non-natives or physical habitat restoration) within the historic range.||Competition and hybridization, habitat degradation (barriers & flow reduction/diversion)||Short-term: 5 yrs.|
|Westslope Cutthroat Trout||26||Enhance current communication products aimed at increasing awareness and reducing human-caused impacts on Westslope Cutthroat Trout.||Human-caused mortality.||First 5 years.|
|All Ecological Communities|
|All species in plan||27||Increase general awareness about species at risk that are found in the park, through interpretive programming, targeted communications, and outreach.||Promotes general awareness of species at risk, recovery efforts, and steps that can be taken to contribute to recovery.||Ongoing.|
|All species in plan.||28||Provide timely and effective species-specific communications to target audiences to disseminate knowledge, enhance understanding, and ensure compliance with SARA requirements.||Visitor activities are successfully managed to prevent habitat destruction or harm to individuals of a species.||Human disturbance; habitat loss or degradation; accidental mortality.||First 5 years.|
|All species in plan||29||Acquire data on species distribution and habitat use to fill knowledge gaps in order to increase efficacy of conservation and recovery actions. Data will be acquired through research and monitoring, and by promoting the reporting of observations by park staff, stakeholders, and visitors.||All.||On-going.|
SOPR – 2019
PMP - 2020
|All species in plan||30||Strengthen species at risk recovery by working with Indigenous communities to incorporate traditional knowledge into SAR understanding.||Indigenous traditional knowledge is incorporated to fill species knowledge gaps.||This will be specific to the particular knowledge gap.||As opportunities arise.|
|All species in plan||31||Increased Indigenous community involvement in the delivery of SAR outreach, education, and visitor experience actions.||This will be specific to the species and type of action.||As opportunities arise.|
|All species in plan||32||Work with adjacent land management agencies, conservation scientists, and others to improve understanding and knowledge of populations of species at risk, and to increase the level of recovery of species occurring across park boundaries within multiple jurisdictions throughout the species’ range.||All.||Ongoing|
|All species in plan||33||Maintain or increase law enforcement patrols to prevent disturbance, destruction or removal of species at risk and their habitats.||Law enforcement capability is maintained or improved to prevent disturbance to SAR and associated habitat.||Disturbance or harm; habitat loss.||Ongoing.|
Appendix C: Effects on the environment and other species
A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of an SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or achievement of any of the Federal Sustainable Development StrategyFootnote 7 goals and targets.
Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that recovery actions may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process, which is based on national guidelines, directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the plan itself, and are summarized below.
Overall, it is anticipated that implementation of this action plan will have a beneficial impact on non-target species, ecological processes, and the environment in Banff National Park. This plan puts into practice recovery goals presented in draft recovery strategies, which were subject to SEAs during the development of those documents. Further, this action plan was developed to benefit species at risk that regularly occur in the park; all of these species were considered in the planning process. Where appropriate, measures were designed to benefit multiple species. The planning process was also guided by priorities identified in the park’s ecological integrity monitoring program and the park management plan (Parks Canada, 2010). Consequently activities outlined in this plan address key management priorities aimed at improving the broader ecological health of the park. Finally, this plan outlines stewardship actions, educational programs, and awareness initiatives that will involve visitors, local residents, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, and the general public. This will lead to greater appreciation, understanding, and action towards the conservation and recovery of species at risk in general.
- Footnote 1
- Footnote 2
- Footnote 3
Where population and distribution objectives have been established for BNP, monitoring is designed to directly measure success in achieving those goals.
- Footnote 4
Objectives are from the Proposed Recovery Strategy. The reader should consult the final version once completed for the official objectives.
- Footnote 5
Population has not been monitored historically, as threats were not present. Data collection on bat occupancy has begun due to the westward advance of white-nose syndrome, the principal threat to this species.
- Footnote 6
Refers to Parks Canada’s Conservation and Restoration program.
- Footnote 7
- Date Modified: