This is a list of the backcountry trails that have been decommissioned since I moved here in 1976, but most of them only in the last few years.
Merlin Pass=32 kms
The complete South Boundary can no longer be done from Medicine Lake. If you want to do the South boundary in one direction you have to either start or finish at Rocky Pass, which is in the middle of nowhere.
Castleguard River, which starts in northern Banff and finishes in Jasper=50 kms
And another in Northern Banff, but close to Jasper is Howse Pass=24kms
Because these trails are decommissioned and not closed you can still use them, but crawling under and over and around deadfall with packs is no fun at all. Crossing raging rivers sucks too.
I fear that Athabasca Pass will be axed next. It already was semi decommissioned with crews only clearing it every two or three years.
In 1994, when the backcountry passes came into being, Parks spent over one million dollars to pave part of the skyline trail at Miette Hotsprings. Yes, they did put in a few tent pads and picnic tables and bear poles in the backcountry, but haven't touched one since.
There is one trail crew worker left and I think they will hire one more in the summer, but their main task will be removing dangerous dead standing trees from around front country campgrounds, and there are thousands of those.
So, who is keeping the trails clear? The outfitters are keeping the longer trails open and a few guys around town are keeping some of the shorter ones open. But we do not build bridges. The outfitters will continue be able to ride the back country because their horses will get them through, but too bad for the backpackers.
What really sticks in my craw about all this is that the Harper cutbacks isn't the main driving force behind all this. It's pressure from the Sierra Club that is causing most of this. While they still allow snowmobiling in the Yellowstone, they come up here and tell us that we're not doing enough to preserve our parks.
I think that the woodland caribou are destined for extinction no matter what parks do. They have a very low birth rate and let's face it, they are not very bright. If you walk slow enough, you can walk right up to a caribou. Try that with a moose or elk(backcountry elk, not a roadside one} or a deer. They are surrounded by wolves and grizzlies and the biggest killer of caribou calves is the wolverine.. They have culled the wolves and have sterilized them, but yet there are many around. It is true that snowmobile and ski tracks make it easier for the wolves to get to these places, but they still go there and still get the caribou. They just leave later in the spring.