“Traditional hunters and anglers who consider themselves as stewards of the land understand that the outdoors are to be treated as a renewable natural resource, in order to be enjoyed by future generations” says co-chair Cody Spencer. “In recent years, increased pressures from motorized equipment have had a detrimental effect on the wildlife, their habitat, and the watershed, which in turn has an impact on those users that depend on the watershed.”
OHVs cause vegetation damage, soil compaction, erosion, stream habitat degradation, noise disturbance and displacement of both wildlife and other recreational land users.
Neil Keown who chairs the Alberta chapter with Spencer says “The decision to phase out the recreational use of OHVs will increase habitat security for our native species, such as bears, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, all of which are impacted by these motorized activities. Critical fish habitat, in particular for the threatened westslope cutthroat trout, will be protected by removing illegal OHV crossings, which will reduce siltation and storm runoff spikes. This will improve the quality of experience for the many conservation-oriented anglers and hunters who prefer traditional methods such as foot access, woods skills and fair chase.”
The group notes that private conservation organizations in Alberta such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, and Ducks Unlimited Canada already prohibit the use of motorized OHVs on their private land holdings, specifically to prevent landscape damage and protect fish and wildlife habitats. Prohibiting their use in the new parks is consistent with this established practice.
Don Meredith is an outdoor writer, long-time hunter, and angler. He is concerned about leaving a legacy for the next generation. “As I get older and less able to hunt deep into the backcountry, I am still committed to using my own power to hunt and fish. I just go no farther than I can pack an animal out. In doing so, I help ensure wildlands stay wild not just for my enjoyment, but more importantly for the enjoyment and health of generations to come. If we insist on damaging our wild public lands in our own interests now, there will not be healthy landscapes, clean streams and abundant wildlife for our children and grandchildren.”
While the group will continue to work with the government to ensure that the parks are protected while ensuring and promoting continued responsible backcountry hunting and angling opportunities, they say that eliminating recreational OHV use in the Castle is a solid first step toward getting our public lands right again for hunting, angling and conservation.