How the Kananaskis Park Pass Reminds Campers to Conserve Nature
Alberta Parks was the inspiration of much discussion over the last year. First, the “Defend the Parks” movement took the province by storm. Displeased Albertans sported green and yellow signs on their yards and wrote to MLAs to prevent the private sale of crownland and campgrounds. They stopped the sale, but it led to the creation of a Kananaskis Park Pass.
The Kananaskis Conservation Pass is also raising eyebrows because Albertans have never paid to access this area. Last year, Kananaskis saw a record number of visitors: 5.4 million! Compared to previous year averages of 4 million, this was a huge increase.
It’s phenomenal to see the increased interest in camping and outdoor pastimes. On the other hand, it’s disappointing that this resulted in record amounts of waste in the area. (source)
Funds raised through the Kananaskis Park Pass go towards
Conservation – Kananaskis needs funding to continue to protect the wildlife and their natural habitat
Search and Rescue – Helicopter rescue is a “free service” for people in distress in the mountains. Though free to the user, Alberta Parks incur the fees
Visitor Services – The Kananaskis Park Pass finances amenities like garbage disposal, trail maintenance and visitor information centers
Sadly, enjoying the wilderness impacts its ecosystem; therefore, it is a camper’s responsibility to uphold a set of ethics. New Age Travel and Services (and the van life experience) encourages travellers to enjoy their campervans underneath the stars, gain an appreciation of nature, and connect with themselves.
We are grateful for Calgary's proximity to nature and our opportunity to share this with others. With this in mind, we are sharing easy ways for campers to aid in conservation efforts. Appreciating nature is great—preserving it for the future is even better.
Pack Out Your Garbage
The last thing anyone wants to see in a beautiful blue lake is trash. Hikers live by the golden rule to do unto others what they'd like done unto themselves. When “glamping” in a campervan, try not to leave garbage for others to find. Complete a final check of the area before leaving to ensure you have everything you brought.
It can be helpful to bring empty bags with you for storing your trash. New Age Travel and Services provides compostable bags with every campervan rental. Another way to prevent littering in the mountains is to dedicate a zip-able pocket for your discards. Stuff your bar wrappers, Ziplock bags or other items in this pocket. One final trick is preventative. Try to bring as little garbage with you into nature as possible.
The main point: remember to take anything you brought into the wild out of the wild.
Use Biodegradable Products
Ecosystems are complex. They are the interdependent relationships between groups of organisms in a physical environment. An ecosystem exists in balance, impacting all parts of itself. Human interaction with ecosystems throws off this balance. It introduces potentially harmful substances to the mix.
Using biodegradable soaps is the best way to shorten this impact because such products break down naturally and leave no hazardous or toxic remnants. Non-biodegradable products have synthetic molecules that do not compose. These molecules are like plastic bags stuck in your backyard. Once introduced, they will never breakdown, and do not go away on their own. Check if your shampoos, body wash or other cleaning products are biodegradable before using them in nature (it should say on the label). To limit your impact, even more, use as little biodegradable soap as possible.
You can learn about New Age Travel and Services' commitment to eco-friendly travel and our partnership with Calgary's newest zero waste store in this article.
It is best practice is to wash yourself and dishes at least 50m from the water source. Doing so limits the introduction of foreign bacteria and contaminants from you, your soaps and your food. Campgrounds provide washing stations. Backcountry campgrounds always have a greywater station for dumping.
The key is basically awareness: awareness of what you are introducing into the wild and where you are introducing it.
Stay On The Trail
At the side of popular hikes is a sign that says "Respect the Mountain". It has a big-footed cartoon person stepping on a tiny flower. This sign is a light-hearted approach to ask that hikers stay on the designated trail. Footsteps from hiking create erosion. Staying on the path reduces the erosion elsewhere on the mountain. It ensures the mountain will remain for future hikers and that the trail will not braid.
“Braiding” is the term to describe how one good path splits into multiple little ones. Hiking creates erosion and moves the soil. Walking different paths creates additional routes. Hikers can inadvertently create multiple routes to the same endpoint like a weaving hair braid. Avoid braiding the trails by staying on designated paths.
Not following the correct path also leads to lost hikers and trickier route-finding conditions. The wrong trail becomes twice as apparent because hikers wear down the soil twice as fast. It wears once in the wrong direction and a second time on the way back.
Limiting Our Environmental Footprint Can Be Simple
Alberta Parks and Canadian National Parks are gems to behold. Let’s keep them that way! Conservation is a straightforward process. It’s the intentional behaviour to limit your impact and preserve the pristineness of nature.
When experiencing the van life, simply keep a couple of points in mind:
Be responsible with your trash – limit what you bring in and always take out what you brought
Use biodegradable soaps – only introduce cleaning products that break down naturally over time
Walk in the designated areas – keep the mountains and paths beautiful by walking on the designated routes
New Age Travel and Services values environmentally conscious travelling. If you have any questions regarding how to limit your footprint while in your camper van, please contact us any time.