Alberta and British Columbia are looking to add more international sparkle to Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks.
Seven parks in the Rockies are already collectively designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site because of their spectacular peaks, glaciers, pristine lakes, wildlife and geology.
Now the two provinces and Parks Canada are talking about asking the UN to add nearby provincial parks and other protected lands to the heritage site. If approved, the expanded area could cover up to 3.5-million hectares of wilderness.
“There is political and bureaucratic support for pursuing the idea, so we have been working on it,” said Mike Murtha, a Parks Canada planner.
“It is really a stamp of exceptional recognition. This is on that list of places you must see before you die.”
Parks Canada would make the application to the UN, but only after Alberta and B.C. decide which areas to nominate. The United Nations has been encouraging Canada to make the application for three years.
Alberta is considering including some or all provincial parks and wild lands along the eastern slopes of the Rockies from the Kananaskis area southwest of Calgary all the way up to the Kakwa area northwest of Jasper.
The areas include Peter Lougheed, Elbow-Sheep, Spray Valley, Bow Valley and Wilmore Wilderness provincial parks, as well as the Ghost, Siffleur, and White Goat wilderness areas.
Camille Weleschuk, a spokeswoman for Alberta Tourism and Parks, cautioned the process will take time.
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