Bill Greylland, Canadian Press
Posted on Friday, November 30, 2018 4:32 PM EST
CALGARY – The judge will condemn the world-renowned ski resort Alberta today to reduce the threatened trees five years ago.
The Lake Louise Lake Resort in the Banff National Park has pleaded guilty last December to seize the tree stand, including a white pine, following the 2013 ski slope.
The resort should be convicted in a courtroom in Calgary for two charges – one under the Law on Species at Risk, and the other under Canada's National Parks Act.
A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of endangered pine trees was contested. The crown initially said 39 were removed, but the defense said the number was much lower.
The maximum fine under the Law on species at risk for each destroyed tree is $ 300,000, while the maximum per tree is $ 250,000 under the National Parks Act.
"We will be released when it's finally over," said Dan Markham, communications director for Lake Louise Ski Center.
"Lake Louise is ready to move forward and initiate the remediation plan, in which we work in partnership with Parks Canada."
The long-standing, five-inch whitebark pine was born at high altitudes and is endangered by invasive diseases, fire and climate change. It is considered crucial because it provides food and shelter for animals and helps stabilize steep subalpine slopes.
The tree exists at high altitudes in western North America on or near the third line. It grows on the continent for 100,000 years and can grow to be between 500 and 1,000 years.
An agreed statement on the facts says that the crew on the track, which consisted of six employees, including the supervisor, began holding the Ptarmigan Ridge at the ski center in the summer of 2013. Work included cleaning, fixing and raising fences, and castrating and removing some trees.
The document says that at the end of September of the same year, workers cut several trees, including the endangered white pine, without permission.
The statement of facts says it is not until August 2014 that Parks Canada and resort personnel who were evaluating the site for a new hiking trail revealed threatened trees have been scaled down.
The DNA analysis confirmed that the trees were white pine. The case was handed over to Parks Canada for an investigation and charges were brought.
The court document says Lake Louise is a co-operative during the investigation and has taken steps to prevent similar occurrences. She says the resort also spent money on white copper-related initiatives, including extensive mapping of that tree in the area.