Science-Based Approach to Adaptive Management of the TCH Corridor: Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

In November 1996, a long-term research project in Banff National Park (BNP), Alberta, Canada was begun. The primary study area is situated in the Bow River Valley along the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) corridor in BNP, located approximately 100 km west of Calgary. The first 45 km of the TCH from the eastern park boundary (phase 1, 2, and 3A) is currently four lanes and is bordered on both sides by a 2.4-m-high wildlife-exclusion fence. The remaining 30 km to the western park boundary (phase 3B) is two lanes and unfenced. Between 2005 and 2007, approximately 12 km of phase 3B will be widened to four lanes with additional fencing and wildlife crossings. Twenty-two wildlife underpasses and two wildlife overpasses were constructed on the first 45 km between 1980 and 1998 to permit wildlife movement across the four-lane section of TCH. The research carried out to date has provided science-based information for mountain park transportation planners and resource managers. The results have been uniquely used in development of Golder Associates’ environmental screening report (environmental-impact assessment) for Parks Canada’s TCH phase 3B twinning project. Research of wildlife-crossing performance demonstrated that a longtime series of data is required to assess the function and performance of these critical cross-highway corridors accurately. Recommendations from the Golder Associates’ report for phase 3B strongly underscored the importance of continued, long-term monitoring of TCH mitigation measures in the Bow Valley. After 8 years of study, there still remain noteworthy areas of uncertainty regarding the effects or performance of the current mitigation on regional-landscape connectivity (demographic and genetic). The long-term cumulative effects (beyond 2020) of the phase 3B project and earlier twinning projects will hinge on the degree to which connectivity can be restored across the TCH. Healthy functioning ecosystems require viable wildlife populations. Thus, it is critical to know the performance of crossing structures at the population level. Although intuitively these measures should enhance population viability, to date there have been no specific studies that actually address their population-level effects. Obtaining data on individuals in a population can be problematic because wide-ranging, fragmentation-sensitive species like bears typically occur in relatively low densities and have low reproductive rates. However, modern molecular techniques now make it possible to identify individual animals, their sex, and genetic relatedness with only a few hairs. These innovations could provide a powerful, relatively inexpensive, and noninvasive way to acquire critical information regarding genetic interchange facilitated by crossings without ever having to capture or see the animal. This paper highlights: 1) Key research findings from the 8-year study; 2) Mitigation myths that have been dispelled; 3) Important lessons learned; 4) Future research needs in the short and long term; and 5) Newly formed international, public-private partnership to meet many of the critical research questions needed for future management decisions. Upcoming Banff research will begin empirically assessing the conservation value of wildlife crossings in restoring landscape connectivity using population-level approaches and nonintrusive DNA-based methodologies.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract used with permission from the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, organized by the Center for Transportation and the Environment, Institute for Transportation Research and Education, North Carolina State University. Alternate title: Science-Based Approach to Adaptive Management of the TCH Corridor: Canadian Rockey Mountain Parks.
  • Corporate Authors:

    North Carolina State University, Raleigh

    Center for Transportation and the Environment
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27695-8601
  • Authors:
    • Clevenger, Anthony P
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 2005


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 94-99
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of the 2005 International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET 2005)

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01565477
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0977809412
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 30 2015 2:52PM