Parks Canada … listens?

I was very pleased to get a personal email from Frank Grigel, Social Science Specialist, Monitoring, with Parks Canada.

He was responding to my complaints about the Parks Canada Listens program.

Seems Parks Canada really is listening.

Here’s the gist of my email reply to Frank:

… I understand much better your Parks Listens surveys — after your explanation. Thank-you.

Next time be sure to explain it from the start. For example, I did not know how many surveys would be happening. How LONG they would take.

The questions seemed well constructed but certainly the process could be improved.

I would suggest an on-going feedback online instead. As you know, government organizations are infamous for spending money on a one shot research project. Then shelving the report. Sometimes this is “theatre”. Politicians stalling to avoid actually making painful improvement.

I would suggest a more open, transparent, interactive process. It is better for Parks Canada to have a place where people can vent. (Every major corporation at this very moment is adding bloggers as they learn this lesson the hard way.)

The alternative is for Parks Canada to get the same feedback from independent sites.

I subscribe to these two blogs in the USA, for example:

  • National Parks Traveler
  • Park Remark
  • Certainly I would subscribe and contribute to a Parks Canada watchdog site. Even start one myself.

    The internet, I believe, will force Parks Canada to be more responsive to taxpayers.

    Regarding the surveys, people were frustrated not having more information. They wanted to be involved but could not easily find out how.

    Look at your website:

    No “about” link. No “contact” link. All I can do is download a .pdf file.

    All in all, it looks pretty intimidating. A “secret” contest of some kind.

    I dislike everything about your site … except the name: Parks Listens

    That is perfect.

    Good luck with the project, though.

    I really hope it results in positive change for Parks Canada.

    If I believed things were getting better for our National Parks, I would encourage people to pay for an annual pass — rather than go to the States instead, as I do now.

    I encourage Frank and anyone else to leave a comment below. This rant of mine then becomes a conversation: open, transparent, interactive, on-line.

    great website for hiking Paine, Chile – Vertice Patagonia

    From our last post on Paine:

    But organizing an independent hiking adventure in that far off part of the world can be frustrating. Management of the Park is convoluted & confusing. Two private companies (Andescape & Fantastico Sur) share responsibilities with the federal government & run the mountain huts (refugios). A third company Vertice Patagonia runs one large Lodge and campground. Pathagone has some role, as well.

    Some of these companies have websites, but none are particularly helpful — unless you want to sign on for a guided trek.

    planning for The Towers of Paine

    Alex von Bischhoffshausen took the time to write and point out that their site — Vertice Patagonia — is never down.

    When I went to take another look, I was impressed. So impressed that we are now going to recommend Vertice Patagonia as the first site hikers check when booking on-line.

    Published in German and English, it could not be more clear on how hikers can book accommodation. Rates are clearly posted and very competitive.

    I’m personally embarrassed because in 2004 I actually toured their immaculate Paine Grande Mountain Lodge and had lunch in their terrific campground facilities. Everything was first class.

    Vertice Patagonia rents all the gear you could possibly need to hike Paine. In fact, Vertice Patagonia is all you need to get organized.

    My apologies Alex for slighting your fine organization. I have Canadian friends looking to come down for the 2007 season and I will recommend they contact you first.

    details on how to get to Paine –


    “the most shameful act in the history of mountaineering”

    It was the most shameful act in the history of mountaineering: 40 climbers, including a large number of guides and clients from a team offering climbs for profit, stepped over a dying independent mountaineer en route to summit. On their way down from the top, they stopped and video filmed a chat with the fading climber, for an upcoming documentary.

    Everest – Mount Everest by climbers, news

    Antelope Canyon, Arizona – polluted

    I love the Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. It’s arguably the best hiking region in the world.

    The Navajo Generating Station is a coal-fired powerplant on the doorstep of Page, Arizona. The three 236m chimneys loom over the “most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest” — Antelope Canyon.


    What a shame!

    Disclosure — I live in Alberta which is a heavy coal-burning part of the world. But we hide our plants away from tourist sites.

    the changing role of the Park Ranger


    an end-of-the-season post from a park ranger, who has some interesting insights into the changing role of the Park Ranger.

    They’ve gone from being naturalists to cops, and they’re more likely to be responding to a domestic dispute at a campground than caring for the park or its inhabitants.

    A pet peeve? The people that can’t get away from it all without bringing it with them. Leave the big-screen TV at home, it’s the outdoors…

    Trout Underground » Ranger Gord’s Ranger Rant…