North Saskatchewan Regional Plan

The North Saskatchewan Region contains a diverse landscape encompassing Rocky Mountain, rolling foothill and prairie parkland ecosystems. The North Saskatchewan Region includes headwaters forests that provide clean water to downstream communities, mountains foothills and parkland that support a diversity of habitats that provide homes for species at risk and serves as a major source of recreation and tourism.

The process for developing the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan (NSRP) is currently underway! CPAWS views the NSRP as an opportunity for the Government of Alberta protect key natural areas and manage the landscape to conserve the important natural ecosystem functions.

Why a Regional Plan?

The Land Use Framework and associated North Saskatchewan Regional Plan (NSRP) is a Government of Alberta initiative intended to balance environmental, economic, and cultural well-being across a landscape that encompasses a diversity of land-uses. Albertans have seen too many beautiful and productive natural areas lost to poorly planned development and sprawl. We must plan ahead to maintain our natural values, as we grow our economy. This requires community and science-based solutions and effective land-use planning.

Applying land use planning best practices to limit cumulative effects and conserve environmentally significant areas and corridors protects Alberta's landscapes and ecosystems. If done right, regional planning can also set a clear path forward, protecting Alberta’s outdoor way of life, strengthening our economy and building a healthier environment as we grow and manage our resources.

A few areas we recommend for protection are:

  • The Bighorn Backcountry including the Upper Foothills -- a large and intact wilderness along the region's eastern slopes, the Bighorn is considered an Environmentally Significant Area of "National" significance and deserves protection.   This area is home to woodland caribou, grizzly bears, and peregrine falcons, among other sensitive wildlife.
  • Beaver Hills/Cooking Lake Moraine -- located immediately east of the City of Edmonton, this area of wetlands and aspen forest has been nominated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by the Beaver Hills Initiative.  The "knob and kettle" terrain of this area functions as a groundwater recharge area for the North Saskatchewan River, and is already recognized as a critical waterfowl habitat. 
  • Parkland Dunes -- almost 70% of Alberta’s Central Parkland falls within the NSRP.  Parkland sustains a rich diversity of plant and animal life within its mosaic of aspen forest, fescue grasses, and wetlands. Unfortunately, much of the native parkland has already been converted to farmland due to its productive soils, moisture levels, and climatic conditions conducive to agriculture.  One of the only surviving patches of original parkland today stretches from the Wainwright Dunes south to the Sounding Lake sand plain.
  • North Saskatchewan River Corridor, from Bighorn to Edmonton -- the corridor along the North Saskatchewan River from the Bighorn to the City of Edmonton contains important riparian habitat for numerous species of wildfowl and fish, and supports clean drinking water for the entire region.  The creation of habitat corridors that not only physically connect larger protected areas but that also span Alberta’s natural regions would allow for wildlife to disperse and provide habitat to support and maintain biological diversity. 
  • Bodo Hills -- located at the transition between Central Parkland and Grassland Natural regions, the Bodo Hills make up one of two large blocks of aspen parkland/northern fescue grassland in the world, and support more than 200 species of native plants and over 50 species of birds, including the ferruginous hawk and the western burrowing owl.

CPAWS also recommends:

  • Protection of headwaters forests on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Clear limits on linear development densities to protect clean water and species at risk such as grizzly bear and bull trout.
  • Protection of wetlands.
  • Encourage recreation within the ecological limits of the region, including common-sense regulations and enforcement on inappropriate off-highway vehicle use.

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS Southern Alberta is working with other NGOs to call for protection for certain areas of the North Saskatchewan region and public lands are managed to maintain ecological function.  We have attended Stakeholder engagement sessions and will continue encourage public participation in the process.

While the public consultation on the Terms of Reference of the NSRP is closed, we will continue to provide updates on how to get involved.

Take Action

Write a letter or email to the Commissioner of the Government of Alberta’s Land Use Secretariat, at:

Commissioner, Land Use Secretariat
9th Floor, 10035-108 St. NW
Edmonton, AB  T5J 3E1

Write to Chad Willms, Land Use Framework Planning Lead for North Saskatchewan Region at

Write a letter or email to your local Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) telling them you want nature’s voice to be heard when the NSRP is drafted.
Who is your MLA?

Visit to find out who your MLA is.

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