|Porcupine Hills - Johnson Creek Watershed|
Dear Minister Phillips,
Re: Support for Land Use Planning in the Southern Eastern Slopes
Your government has been taking steps towards solving the serious issue of damage to our public lands through the extensive and unmanaged creation of trails and other disturbances. We know unequivocally that the amount of damage in our public lands has significantly compromised our watersheds, wildlife, plant communities, and the very sustainability of these landscapes.
There is a broad segment of the local rural community, conservation organizations and others who have been impressed with your personal commitment to implement science based planning in the Porcupine Hills and Livingstone. This diverse group has come together in agreement that the current management of our public lands must be improved and that the damage must be addressed.
Your stated goal in this process has been to protect our headwaters and biodiversity on public lands. This is a first for Alberta. For decades, previous governments have promised, but none have had the will to seriously tackle this important issue.
Many in our coalition live adjacent to public lands. Many of us support our livelihoods from these lands, help to steward the land, and depend directly on the fresh water from these lands. The damage being done to public lands by a few undermines this landscape that we and many other Albertans value.
|The Livingstone Range as seen from the Porcupine Hills|
Accordingly, we strongly encourage you and will do our best to support you to:
- stay the course with setting firm limits on linear disturbance - if firm limits are done away with there is no foundation for the protection of headwaters and biodiversity;
- move forward on the approval of the land footprint plan which will establish what is needed to adequately protect watersheds and biodiversity;
- follow the approval of the land footprint plan with recreation planning that takes into consideration the interests of all who value our public lands including but not limited to ranchers, motorized recreationists, non-motorized recreationists, local communities, municipal governments, fisheries and wildlife biologists, forestry and tourism; and,
- put in place adequate and effective information and enforcement measures that will ensure responsible use and compliance in the future.
We thank you for your commitment to a land use planning process that is meaningful and will achieve the goals of protecting headwaters and biodiversity. We also thank you for your respectful approach to working with the diverse users and neighbours of public lands.
We hope that our voices and the interests of the majority of Albertans will result in good decisions being made for the future management of our public lands.
The Porcupine Hills Coalition
The Porcupine Hills Coalition is a broad network of organizations and individuals, from the local rural community as well as provincial conservation interests, working together since the spring of 2015 on land footprint and recreation plans for the Porcupine Hills and Livingstone areas as directed by the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Our shared goal is to protect headwaters and biodiversity through improved management of uses on public land and addressing past damage.