Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wildfire Smoke from B.C. Gets in the Way of Mountain Scenery for Tourists

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wildfire Smoke from B.C. Gets in the Way of Mountain Scenery for Tourists

Article excerpt

Smoke obscures scenery for parks shutterbugs

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JASPER, Alta. - Smoke from wildfires that's blanketing parts of Alberta does more than just irritate the eyes and throats of visitors to the province's mountain parks -- it obscures the spectacular scenery that many have travelled thousands of kilometres to see.

"I did have a couple the other day that were quite disappointed. They were looking at the photographs on the wall and kind of complained, 'We can't see any of this stuff,'" said Jeremy Salisbury at Tekarra Color Lab, which sells cameras supplies, photos and art in Jasper.

His co-worker Matt Quiring, who also works part time at the Jasper Planetarium, said the smoke has made photographing the night sky particularly challenging.

Jasper is designated a dark sky preserve due to its limited light pollution and the planetarium typically has telescopes set up on summer nights. But the universe is obscured by thick haze these days.

"Even those stars that are visible, the smoke lowers the contrast so you don't get black, black skies," Quiring lamented.

The thick smoke from hundreds of wildfires that continue to burn through British Columbia's forests and brush is also creating air-quality problems for much of Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba as winds drive it eastward from B.C.

In Calgary and Edmonton, the tops of downtown highrises get fuzzier the higher up you look.

Quiring said mountains in Jasper that are usually beautifully detailed with trees on the ridgelines have turned into silhouettes.

Further south in Banff, a live webcam from the summit of Sulphur Mountain -- accessible by gondola -- shows mostly grey.

Tanya Otis, a spokeswoman for the company that operates the gondola, said people are still going up but visibility varies depending on wind direction.

"It really depends on the time of day for what they can see," Otis said. …

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