Outsource trail maintenance, preserve heritage: proposal
Rob Klettl wants to help preserve Jasper's heritage where Parks Canada backcountry budgets fall short
A Jasper boy has come home again, and he wants to help restore the park’s infrastructure to its former glory.
Rob Klettl has spent the last three decades working in the resource industry, but he’s always visited his childhood home to hike and reconnect with nature.
“I’ll always consider Jasper my home,” he said.
In recent years, Klettl has noticed an important part of his home has undergone a slow, steady decay. In Jasper’s backcountry, willows have grown over once-pristine trails. Bridges have been washed out. Operational cabins are slowly deteriorating.
“It’s evident the agency is no longer able to maintain these assets with the same resource strategy it had in the past,” Klettl said.
As a result, an important piece of Jasper National Park’s heritage is at risk of being forgotten, Klettl said.
“I recognize Parks is restrained with budgets,” he said. [But] the bush is winning.”
To help get a handle on the brambles, the fallen trees and the rotting infrastructure, Klettl has proposed that Parks Canada consider contracting out the maintenance of trails, backcountry campgrounds and cabin facilities. Even basic brushing and tree removal is difficult for trail crew to look after on a daily basis.
“Trail crew can only get to so many projects,” Klettl said. “Those crews could meet the bigger scale things Parks Canada needs and the smaller fire fights could be dealt with on a contract basis.”
His company, Alte Ziege Trail Services, is in a position to lead the work, he said.
“By contracting out work that Parks Canada staff is unable to complete, our heritage trails and cabins can be maintained as assets for all Canadians.”
Klettl is the son of former Jasper warden, the late Toni Klettl. The Klettls spent much of their early Jasper years living in the backcountry districts Toni was assigned to. Moreover, as a young man, Rob helped construct several warden cabins, including the “Caribou Inn” on the park’s north boundary trail. A recent visit to that cabin was the catalyst for his proposal.
“After 30 years it needs some love,” Klettl said.
Klettl is a certified carpenter and millwright. He also holds a degree in geology.
If the proposal moves forward, Klettl hopes to enlist the skills of local tradespeople, wranglers and trail professionals.
“We have an amazing network of people who are connected to the backcountry right here,” he said.
Klettl said so far his proposal has been received favourably by local Jasper officials.
“This could be a new step for Parks Canada,” he said.