2020 was lucrative year for Special Areas parks, looking for more in 2021

·2 min read

Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Special Areas Board Park Supervisor John Armstrong said that they received a decent amount of applications for summer work in the parks.

“Camping seems to be one of the few things that has remained relatively untouched. The Government has lots of regulations about certain things, but left a little space for camping, and people are taking advantage of that,” said Armstrong.

Last year generated the most revenue of any year in his 35 years as park supervisor, said Armstrong, and this year appears to be heading towards similar numbers.

“I think people just want to get out of their backyard. Our parks in the special areas have lots of room,” said Armstrong.

Part of this record success is an influx of new campers from along the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor, who may have chosen to camp in the mountain parks in previous years.

“The Corridor and the mountains are so busy, people have migrated East, where there’s less people. We have lots of new people finding our campgrounds that never knew this existed. I heard that a lot, especially last year, that they never knew this existed,” said Armstrong, who wondered if these new campers will return after COVID-19 has ended.

This popularity continues to show through the newly available gift certificates, which Armstrong said is a testament to the quality of the parks themselves.

“They’ve been really great. If people didn’t like our parks, nobody would be interested in giving or getting a gift certificate, so this speaks to our campgrounds,” said Armstrong.

2020’s struggle with invasive Prussian Carp in the parks is still an ongoing issue, however, though Armstrong is still waiting to see the results of Alberta Environment and Parks removing around 350,000 carp last July.

Armstrong expressed disappointment in the presence of prussian carp in the reservoir.

“Since its inception, Blood Indian reservoir has been a rainbow trout fishery. And finally, we had come to an agreement with Alberta Environment and Parks to try some other fish species in here at the same time, and at the same time as that happens, the carp were here. They’re really thrown a wrinkle in everything,” said Armstrong.

The results of last year’s netting attempt will be seen when the same areas are netted next month to monitor the Prussian Carp population.

“It will be in the same area, the same way, and we’ll see if taking that many carp out will actually reduce the numbers. If we end up with 350,000 carp again, it might indicate they’re a bigger problem than we know they are. But if we’re down to 100,000 at the same time this year, same netting areas, then maybe there is a way to get rid of them through some eradication program.”

Anna Smith, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prairie Post East

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