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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Alberta government asks for public feedback about Livingstone-Porcupine Hills management plans

The Porcupine Hills (Alberta Wilderness Association photo)

Chris Davis - Today (March 27) the Alberta Government released draft plans for managing the impacts of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on public land in the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills region of southwestern Alberta, which is part of Alberta’s eastern slopes and includes the Porcupine Hills, Crowsnest Pass, the Whaleback, and the Upper Oldman River. The area is identified in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) as a priority for Land Footprint and Recreation Management planning. Public input is invited.

According to Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips, “The Livingstone-Porcupine Hills area is a tremendous public resource, and engaging Albertans in the planning process is essential to getting the best plans possible. We need plans that protect the region’s headwaters, biodiversity, aesthetic beauty, and cultural and historic values, while accommodating an appropriate mix of uses, including enhanced recreation activities.”

According to the government's press release, "The area provides much of the region’s drinking water, includes extensive portions of an ecologically diverse landscape, and is identified in the SSRP as a priority for Land Footprint and Recreation Management planning. The SSRP came into effect in September of 2014.

"The draft Land Footprint Management Plan manages the impacts of competing land-use demands from expanding human development, while providing continued opportunities for economic development and recreation. The draft Recreation Management Plan provides recommendations on how various recreation activities can be accommodated in the region."

The government says it wants to hear from First Nations, stakeholders and the public as the third part of an input process that has been underway for approximately three years. "Stakeholder and public engagement runs until 4 p.m. on April 26, 2018." Stage 1 of the input process occurred between March 2015 and March 2016, and included meeting with First Nations and stakeholders to present the scope and intent of the planning processes. Stage 2 occurred between April 2016 and April 2017 and involved meeting with First Nations and stakeholders to present modelling results and management alternatives.

The Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) has responded to the announcement with both approval and concerns. "While the plans provide the opportunity for significantly reducing human footprint on this landscape, AWA is concerned the plans may not meaningfully protect watersheds and biodiversity." Established in 1965, AWA advocates for the conservation of wilderness and the completion of a protected areas network in Alberta. AWA Conservation Specialist Joanna Skrajny said “Over the past few decades, our failure to control industrial and motorized footprint on our public lands has resulted in widespread damage. Use of our public lands is a privilege, not a right.”

"These plans currently propose to exceed acceptable limits of roads and trails for grizzly bear recovery by a factor of two, and will continue to place more sensitive species such as our native trout in jeopardy. Proposed motorized use within an internationally significant wildlife corridor is another concern that must be addressed."

AWA's position "is supportive of safe and responsible use of motorized recreational vehicles on designated trails in appropriate areas that do not impact other recreational users, vegetation, water or wildlife. AWA believes comprehensive recreation planning must take into account the proportionality of use for the needs of all Albertans including non-motorized recreationists, landowners, and downstream users."

AWA says the area is key "for connectivity of grizzly bears and elk, contains fescue grasslands important for ranching and conserving species at risk, and was once abundant in large, native fish. It’s one of the most iconic and diverse landscapes in Alberta."

Related link: Draft plans and feedback

3 comments:

  1. Only allow electric ATV's.. they are out there

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  2. This is a struggle for many of us that respect the land. We absolutely love to be able to go down there, and ride in nature. We don’t wreck anything, we definitely see it as a privilege and don’t take advantage of that. For us it’s an amazing getaway to take the atvs and bikes and go as a family and large group and enjoy the peace of wilderness and nature with no cell service or interruptions. We take care of our bikes, we take care of the land. Not all are like this - but for us that work hard to do so, stripping us of that privilege is extremely harsh.

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  3. So my parent's ranch that they've been on for over 40 years boarders the east side of the forestry reserve in the southern Porcupine Hills. I've seen the changes over the last couple decades. It's horrendous the amount of damage and proliferation of new trails that has happened. Places we camped in the campground with friends as teens are now cut through with literally two foot deep ruts where it used to be nice grass just 15 years ago. There are trails spiderwebing everywhere as people just drive wherever they can and call it a trail once it's rutted up. There are tons of these that cross creeks and cut up the banks horribly.

    Literally, it's a pandemic of people claiming it's someone else who is the problem. Unless you're on a trail large enough for a truck, you're the problem. Because those little ATV ones never used to exist. They were literally cattle trails or deer trails 20 years ago. Let that sink in.

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