Alberta Parks Assess Damage from Heavy Rains
Park officials in Alberta are wading into damage assessments, cleanup and initial repairs after an especially soggy spring destroyed some popular infrastructure.
Omar McDadi with Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks said the mountain regions west of Calgary saw about three times the regular rainfall in June, including 80-100 mm (3 to 4 inches) in just a 48-hour period, the Calgary Sun reported.
Coupled with record snowfall this past winter, the parks — the northern part of Kootenay, in particular — have suffered damage to pathways, campgrounds, access roads and bridges.
“We’re terming it as a once-in-a-generation year,” said McDadi.
“Some of these places are still melting out now so we’re assessing damages and we’re making every reasonable effort to salvage materials and bridges if we can and do in-house repairs, but we will have to contract out some of the bigger projects,” he said.
Since the extent of the damage is still being determined, a cost estimate is not yet known, said McDadi.
At least eight bridges were damaged, including the access point to the Paint Pots off Hwy. 93 South and the Tumbling Creek suspension bridge, said McDadi.
Visitors can still get to the Paint Pots, but have a nearly four-mile hike round trip to do rather than the quick access that was available prior.
Marble Canyon campground in Kootenay National Park was closed after a vehicle bridge was washed out, but has since reopened.
However the 62-site Chancellor Peak Campground on the west side of Yoho National Park was heavily affected by overflow from the nearby Kicking Horse River and will remain closed for the rest of the season.
“There was fairly significant damages that were sustained in that campground,” said McDadi.
“Quite a bit of it was underwater — the river extended its arm into the campground.
“It will not open in 2012.”
Crook’s Meadow Campground, which is only available for group bookings in Kootenay National Park, is also closed.
Provincially, Rock Lake campground west of Hinton was shut down earlier this week as the result of heavy rain and continued snow melt, said Erin Larson with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
“Hopefully it’ll be shorter rather than longer,” she said, adding Alberta Transportation is assessing what needs to be repaired on an access road before the 95-site campground can reopen.
Both Parks Canada and Alberta Parks are encouraging recreational users to check their websites for status reports on their destinations.