If your hopes were up to check out the view from the Devona Lookout or visit the historic Moberly Homestead, then you had better be patient.

Celestine Road is still closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future, according to Parks Canada in a prepared statement to The Fitzhugh.

Parks officials closed it off last fall because of the Chetamon Wildfire, and the risk is still too high for anyone’s safe passage on the road.

“Parks Canada will not reopen the area for regular visitation until this elevated risk has abated,” the statement read.  

A remote camera image dated March 20 shows that the Chetamon Wildfire still remains active with small areas of smouldering fire visible after these last winter months. This activity is isolated within the perimeter, however, and has very little risk of spreading, Parks indicated.

“Safety is always the top priority for Parks Canada. Parks Canada cannot reopen the Celestine area until the elevated risk due to the Chetamon wildfire has been assessed and mitigated,” the statement continued. 

“Risk is associated with trees weakened by the wildfire and slope stability. Some basic visitor facilities burned by the wildfire will also need to be replaced before public access can be safely restored.”

The area normally accessible via Celestine Road includes the historic Moberly Homestead and the Devona Lookout. The statement said that Parks recognizes that the Celestine Road area is an important destination for Indigenous partners, visitors and Jasper residents. It also notes that Parks Canada recognizes that interest in the area has grown because of the Chetamon Wildfire.

Entering the area, however, is a violation of the Canada National Parks Act and comes with a maximum penalty of $25,000.

Parks Canada said that it will continue to monitor the wildfire and will focus work on priority hotspots as soon as surface water is available. These areas include popular visitation areas like trailheads, parking lots, picnic sites and benches. The work is expected to involve an extensive hazard tree assessment.

Parks will also conduct an infrared scan of the entire area in mid-April. Afterward, it will issue a new wildfire update. A separate update regarding the condition of visitor facilities should be issued in mid-May. That update will include the anticipated opening dates of the Celestine Road area.

For further updates on the area closure, people are advised to check the Important Bulletins page of the Jasper National Park website.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

2023-03-31T16:02:53Z dg43tfdfdgfd