Canadian Pacific (CP) is providing $500,000 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in support of the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor in the Crowsnest Pass, which aims to protect various species along Highway 3.
In October 2018, the NCC announced the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor between Crowsnest Lake and Coleman, which will connect Crown forest reserve lands from Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park in the north to Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park in the south, spanning just over 8 kilometres.
“What the Nature Conservancy of Canada is trying to do is trying to create a network of conservation lands on either side of Highway 3,” Carys Richards told MyEastKootenayNow.com, Alberta Region Manager of Communications with the NCC. “Our hopes are that once the land is secured, the Provincial Government might be interested in putting a wildlife crossing structure because this is also an area that there is also a lot of wildlife and vehicle collisions.”
The $500,000 donation from Canadian Pacific on Tuesday will be used for research and land acquisition, as the NCC has conserved more than 80% of the required land within the corridor area.
“This money is going to go towards the securement and stewardship of key lands along the corridor and also it’s going to be investing some research that we’re going to be doing to monitor which animals are crossing at the timing of the crossing, which is going to help guide us in moving forward how we want to work best to steward this area,” added Richards.
“CP is proud to be a contributor to this important initiative in memory of Jim Prentice, an active supporter of conservation and a former member of our Board of Directors. CP has a long history operating through the Crowsnest Pass and recognizes the potential impacts our operations can have on wildlife and ecosystems along our right of way,” said Glen Wilson, CP’s Managing Director of Environmental Risk.
“The Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor is the accumulation of many years of work in the Crowsnest Pass and is a major conservation achievement. This natural link between protected spaces has been a priority for conservation organizations for decades,” added Bob Demulder, Regional Vice-President of the NCC.
Richards told MyEastKootenayNow.com that they hope to secure the remaining lands for the entire corridor by the end of 2020, as they continuing to have discussions with the remaining landowners. Richards noted that the funding will also go towards research, utilizing cameras to capture wildlife movements through the corridor to better understand which species are using the corridor and when then they are crossing Highway 3.
“The animals are already moving across this corridor and so by protecting the landscape it’s going to make sure that they continue to have safe passage across the highway,” said Richards. “Highway 3 is a really busy highway, it’s kind of the gateway to the Rockies between southern Alberta and southern B.C., there’s a lot of road traffic, there’s a lot of collisions that happen between wildlife and vehicles so we’re really hoping that the Province of Alberta is interested in installing a wildlife crossing structure to help make this area safe for everybody that lives and recreates and the animals that migrate through here.”
The NCC said that almost all wildlife species living in the foothills and mountain regions will use the corridor, whether it be ungulate populations like elk, deer, moose, and bighorn sheep, or carnivores such as bears, wolverines, and cougars.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the country’s leading private land conservation organization and non-profit, protecting 14 million hectares (35 million acres) of land across Canada since 1962.