Summer 2022

Newsletter Archive


How does one effectively communicate the Stoney Nakoda Exshaw Wildlife Arch?

article image

A few weeks ago, Tracy attended the Connectivity Visualization CoLab hosted by the Ecological Design Lab, Toronto Metropolitan University, ARC Solutions and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. The lab brought together an interdisciplinary group of practitioners including planners, scientists, landscape designers and communicators to discuss how to visualize landscape connectivity. Discussions focused on Highways that bisects the Rocky Mountains, Highway 1 (Banff), 3 (Crowsnest) and 2 (Glacier). These highways all run along low elevation valleys from east to west through predominately north south Rocky Mountains. All these Highways are known to fragment habitat for iconic large mammal species such as grizzly bear, elk, bighorn sheep and moose. This is a really big deal - preventing animals from moving around the landscape to access resources and mates plays a significant role in biodiversity loss.

However, there is a relatively simple solution - we can build crossing structures over or under the road with fencing to help direct animals safely across the road while also reducing wildlife vehicle collisions. Alberta Transportation has committed to building an overpass and wildlife fencing along the TransCanada highway near Stoney Nakoda Nation between Elbow River near Highway 1A turn off and Exshaw to facilitate the safe movement of elk and grizzly bears. Construction has started and will be completed in the fall of 2023. As motorists start to see the structure take form how can we communicate the significance of these structures to wildlife conservation?

The Connectivity Visualization CoLab will be sharing many great ideas generated during the two-day workshop. But for Tracy - a simple take home - ask people to think about personal experiences when they could not visit family or access resources due to something beyond their control - say isolation during a global pandemic, or a road washout due to flooding restricting your movement or global supply chain impacts when the Evergreen was lodged in the Suez Canal. Or simply imagine the sounds/visual impact when walking in nature as you approach a heavy volume highway... would you cross with-out a bridge?