For Immediate Release: Conservationists and recreationists celebrate land-use plans in Southern Alberta.
May 17th, 2018
Albertan conservation and recreation groups are celebrating the announcement of a Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) in the Livingstone Range and Porcupine Hills, southwest of Calgary between Kananaskis and the Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks. The accompanying Land Footprint Plan and Recreation Management Plan will manage roads, trails, motorized recreation and motorized random camping that have so far been unregulated in these critical headwater regions.
“The creation of these plans involved a collaborative stakeholder engagement process and we are pleased to see Minister Phillips implement them,” says Connie Simmons of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and local resident.
Alistair Des Moulins of the Alberta Hiking Association is optimistic about the future of the area. “Many hikers have in the past stayed away from much of this area due to extensive use by motorized recreation enthusiasts. This plan will strike a better balance in the area. The hiking community looks forward to returning to recreate in southern Alberta. We support the idea that recreation will be sited so that minimum impact occurs to watershed integrity and biodiversity, and that damaged areas will be restored to a more natural state.”
Simmons adds, “These plans set a new high bar for land use planning in Alberta. We look forward to working with the government and other stakeholders to determine appropriate levels of use by commercial forestry and to protect source water and critical fish and wildlife habitat. These issues remain a challenge that still must be addressed.”
“The Great Divide Trail Association was proud to participate in the Government of Alberta’s extensive stakeholder consultations on the Land Footprint Plans and the Recreation Management Plans. These plans which put limits on the impacts of all activities, including motorized use, will ensure that these areas are better protected for all Albertans now and in the future. We applaud the decision our Government has taken and look forward to the implementation of the plans,” says President Dave Hockey.
“This is an important day for our public lands in southwest Alberta. The limits on roads and motorized trails is a necessary step in the preservation of critical species and habitat and creating welcoming places for Albertans to connect with nature,” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with the southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). “The removal of trails from critical habitats for native trout is a key part of the successful implementation of these plans. We still have some concerns about the location of specific motorized trails in relation to critical trout habitat. We hope to continue to work with the government and stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of these plans leads to real protection of threatened species.”
Overall, the groups are applauding the government in its efforts to secure ecologically important areas while responsibly managing the heritage of outdoor recreation in Alberta. “These plans are a model for the future of collaborative land management. They also highlight overlapping priorities of conservation and recreation and opportunities for co-operation across our province.” says Morrison.