Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Parks Canada must respond to climate change

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The road that allowed motorists to get to the Mary Ann Falls is now permanently closed.

  • Rebecca Martel (View profile)Rebecca Martel

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Parks Canada must rethink certain places of its park in Cape Breton to make it more resilient to the consequences of climate change.

The road to the popular Mary Ann Falls north of Ingonish, Nova Scotia, will be closed to make way for an 8 km trail that will be wide enough to provide access for hikers and cyclists.

It's a decision that was difficult to make, admits Julie Cossette, visitor experience manager at Parc national des Cape Breton Highlands.

But climate change is definitely present and increasingly visible. We face extreme weather events much more frequently. Then we expect that we will have others in the future. Then comes a time when we have to consider what we can do with all this.

She is referring to the rainstorm of 2021 which caused enormous damage to the road and the storms that followed.

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The storms left the road leading to Mary Ann Falls impassable except for ATVs.

Hurricane Fiona in September 2022 undid everything we had tried to do to repair this road, notes Julie Cosette. So we had to face the reality that climate change is here.

Mary Ann Falls Road was part of the original route of the Cabot Trail designed in the 1920s and it was used as a main route through the highlands until the 1950s.

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Access to the falls is something very important for visitors to the park and for people from the local community who have had access to these falls for years, recognizes the manager.

We expect that when even some people who are generally less okay with it, especially because of accessibility.

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Mary Ann Falls, in the Highlands National Park Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

She believes these frustrations will manifest on social media, but points out that other falls in the park are still accessible by car, such as Beulach Ban.< /p>

It also indicates that the decision to transform the road is part of Parks Canada's priority to put forward more options for active transportation.

The round trip to the falls will be a 10 mile trip and the stairs that go to the bottom of the falls will be reconstructed for those who want to add to their excursion. However, the Branch Pond trail that started near the falls, often used for backcountry expeditions, will be returned to its wild state.

People planning to camp in the wilderness will be able to access the heart of the park via other trails and must register before doing so.

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Julie Cossette is Visitor Experience Manager at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Julie Cossette explains that the National Park of Cape Breton Highlands' mandate is to offer the best possible experience to as many people as possible with the available budget.

The climate change visor is not something that has always been among the decision points in the past, she admits. But it is now part of all our decisions.

The road to Mary Ann Falls is not the only one to have been sacrificed by global warming. the planet.

The coastal path, also very damaged by the storms of recent years, will not be repaired and will be transformed into several small paths along the coast.

Same thing for the toilet building at Ingonish beach, which will be rebuilt a little further away and on more land high so that it will not be flooded during future storms.

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