By Kalinowski, Tim on January 9, 2020.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada has acquired 80 per cent of the land it needs to make the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor a reality, and expects to close the deal on the remaining 20 per cent in 2020.
“We when announced it (in late 2018), we were doing a couple of things,” explains Bob Demulder, Alberta regional vice-president with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “One was to raise a little bit of capital that will allow us to acquire some of the outstanding lands that would be needed to ensure the land in the corridor would stay open and undeveloped. That part was underway…and through some of the money raised we have acquired most of the lands we were looking for. We are actually in discussion with the last couple of land holdings we need to finish this work.”
“And then, at the same time,” he adds, “that would transition us to the next phase, which is then working with the Province of Alberta to finish up the planning around where a wildlife crossing structure of some kind as well as the appropriate fencing that would vector wildlife to use it and keep them away from the highway.”
The wildlife corridor, as the name suggests, is in honour of Alberta’s late Premier Jim Prentice, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2016 at the age of 60. That legacy idea, confirms Demulder, has brought many people on board and accelerated the completion of the land acquisition phase of the new wildlife corridor.
“The municipality has come onside. The province has come onside. And a lot of the corporations who were friends of Jim, his partners of various sorts and his colleagues, have all gotten behind this – and they are helping us get it done,” Demulder states.
One example of this is Prentice was a former board member with Canadian Pacific Railway, which is also a significant property owner in the proposed corridor. For this reason, and others, CP Rail has been a significant supporter of the corridor and has agreed to fund a wildlife study which will identify all the types of animals crossing the highway, explains Demulder. This will help give the Province of Alberta the best information possible as it mulls its decision to build a wildlife crossing point through the area, he says.
“We all know through some of the current data that we have large ungulates, grizzly bear, etc. But we don’t really have any documented evidence of some of other critters like wolverines or other animals that might move at night. We are just trying to get a better feel for when things are moving, and what times they are moving.”
Demulder hopes the province will eventually come to the same conclusion as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and local municipalities already have: a wildlife crossing would enhance the safety of the highway for all involved.
“It does two things,” he says. “In addition to creating a corridor for wildlife to safely move, it also improves the safety of the human public that moves through that highway. We know that collisions with wildlife is actually a problem in the area.”
The Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is located in the Crowsnest Pass between Crowsnest Lake and the community of Coleman.
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