FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 19, 2017
Public recreation should be allowed on Waterton Lake
Southern Alberta, CANADA – In late 2016, Glacier National Park in the United States issued boating closures within park waters due to the possibility of invasive mussel populations, and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada followed suit. The closure effects all motorized watercraft from using the lakes, except park employees and select agencies. Non-motorized hand-propelled watercraft are allowed in both parks, pending a self and/or staff inspection with a permit that must remain on hand while in the park.
Public Land Alliance (PLA) wrote to Ifan Thomas, Superintendent of Waterton Lakes National Park and Jeff Mow, Superintendent of Glacier National Park on April 17, 2017. After a follow-up letter with both parks that stated a deadline to reply before a press release was sent to regional media, a reply was finally written on May 24, 2017. Dennis Madsen, Resource Conservation Manager at Waterton Lakes National Park replied with snippets from formerly published material and a suggestion to contact a Waterton based group of other concerned individuals, called the Clean Lake Initiative. This letter did not include any mention of the solutions put forward that are already being utilized elsewhere, including a program in Montana.
The Whitefish Lake Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program is a mandatory inspection of all motorized and non-motorized watercraft prior to launching in Whitefish Lake, Montana. The inspection stations are open daily for more than 12 hours, include staff inspections each time a boat enters the water, and a $40 decontamination fee. The park officials on either side of the border have not responded to this suggestion. For more information on the program being used in Whitefish Lake, please visit www.whitefishlake.org/AIS_Mgmt_Pgm.php.
This program would allow motorized and non-motorized watercraft in both parks safely. If money is the problem, PLA is willing to help raise the funds required to put a decontamination program into place this season, including additional staff requirements if necessary. This offer for financial support has yet to be answered or acknowledged by either park.
Parks Canada has also failed to adequately address boats owned by people living in Waterton. Most leaseholders and residents of Waterton and Glacier never leave the parks with their watercraft. As such, there is no risk to the waters, and programs already in place allow for proper verification of this. There is also no evidence of mussels ever being found in Alberta or north of the Continental Divide in Montana, thus boats travelling only within this area are also completely safe. The boat dock rental business in Waterton will also suffer or be forced to shut its doors forever if an alternative solution is not put into action. Decontamination is a solution and PLA is willing to work with the national parks to set up inspection stations.
This refusal to acknowledge the solutions put forth exhibits a lack of respect for public input. PLA is requesting Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park to not only respond to the proposed decontamination option, but to work with PLA to reopen the lakes to safe recreational use by the public. As our representatives, elected officials should also be helping regain recreational access for motorized watercraft to these lakes.
At the time of this news release, Glacier National Park has still not replied to any correspondence.
Public Land Alliance (PLA) is a southern Alberta based organization seeking to “keep public lands in public hands”. We have supporters throughout Alberta and into the United States. There are many instances where public lands are being denied access for recreational use in Alberta, throughout Canada, and shared border areas in the United States. These areas are labelled as public lands. These lands should be open for responsible recreational use including hiking, camping, boating, horse-back riding, off-road vehicles, and other activities. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for campaign updates.