More Than 21,000 Albertans Show Support for New Wildland Provincial Park
— Press Release September, 6, 2018
EDMONTON – To date, 21,781 letters and petition signatures have been delivered to the office of the Honourable Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, asking her to designate the Bighorn Backcountry as a Wildland Provincial Park.
The messages of support have been collected by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Northern Alberta through the Love Your Headwaters Campaign, ongoing since early 2017.
Albertans from all sectors and generations across the province have backed the creation of a Wildland Provincial Park in the Bighorn. Y2Y and CPAWS now await a response from the government.
The Bighorn is about 90 kilometres west of Rocky Mountain House, between Jasper National Park and Banff National Park on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. It is home to the same amazing wildlife, landscapes and resources to the north and south, but has none of the same official protections.
For Mark Lund, vice-president of Paddle Alberta, observing 50 years of changes to land and water in this area sparked his support.
“As a fourth generation central Albertan, and long-time paddler and hiker, I have explored a good dealof the proposed Bighorn Wildland Park by canoe, kayak and foot. I’ve observed increases in oil and gas development, logging and motorized off-road recreation here. I have also observed the far too limited protection provided to these landscapes. It is very clear to me that the upper North Saskatchewan River Basin requires enhanced protection to protect the whole ecosystem, and especially to protect our — my— long-term water supply.”
“Parks are vital because they embody both the recreation and environmental values of our members.Parks also provide maintained infrastructure such as huts, trails and campgrounds that inherently remove barriers and enable activity for all, regardless of skill level or experience. For these reasons, MEC is pleased to support the Government of Alberta and the proposed creation of the Bighorn WildlandPark,” says Brad Clute from Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Edmonton-based outdoor educator Gord Thorpe brings his students to the Bighorn each year, and hunts and fishes there too.
“Connecting our youth with the outdoors is the first step towards students developing an awareness, followed by empowering young people to be stewards of our environment. My goal as an educator is to immerse students in the beauty and ruggedness, so they understand why such a unique area deserves protection. They will be the ones to shape our actions and policies for wilderness in the future.”
Robert Wilde of the Edmonton chapter of Council of Canadians says, “The protection of the commons —especially the shared water supply — is one of the founding mandates of the Council of Canadians. The Edmonton chapter stands in support of the Love Your Headwaters campaign. We endorse this call to the Alberta government to grant protected area status to this area just east of the Rocky Mountains.”
“As a fly fisherman, I feel incredibly lucky to have the Bighorn right out my back door. There are riversand creeks out here that people fly from around the world to visit,” says Perry Hallgren, angler and supporter. “It seems crazy to me that an area that offers world renowned opportunities for backcountry experiences should have a major coal mine built within it. This is why I support the protection of theBighorn.”
Following this spring’s announcement of four new parks and one park expansion in Alberta’s north creating the world’s largest protected boreal forest, environmental organizations including Y2Y and CPAWS Northern Alberta state there is no better time to grant more significant protection to other areas of the province.
“It’s clear Albertans care about our shared future. And as our province grows busier, there is a need to have more places to recreate sustainably. The province has a great opportunity to keep up the momentum and set an example for the rest of Canada as we meet our conservation goal of 17 per cent protected lands and water by 2020 under Canada Target 1,” says Hilary Young, program manager forY2Y.
If designated, wildland provincial park protection will provide better protection of sensitive, so far undisturbed, habitat for vulnerable species such as grizzlies, bighorn sheep and bull trout and prevent extractive industry, including mining and forestry.
Designation would also open the door to co-management with Indigenous nations that would support sustainable economic opportunities and reconciliation.
A framework would also be created to better manage recreation opportunities Albertans treasure here, including hunting, camping, fishing and more. This is especially important as the Bighorn is slightly larger than Banff National Park at 6,717 square kilometres.
Read more about the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
Link to the rdnews NOW Article: Y2Y rallies for Bighorn Wildife Provincial Park.
Link to the rdnews NOW Article: Packed House for Bighorn Backcountry Town Hall.
Link to the rdnews NOW Article: Leaked Memo on Bighorn Backcountry Raises Concerns.
Listen to the CBC AM Interview with Mark Connolly.
Read the CBC News Article: Park Designation Proposal Triggers Turf War in Bighorn Backcountry.
For more information:
Kecia Kerr, Executive Director, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter
Phone: 780-328-3780 ext. 1 | Email: [email protected]
Perry Hallgren, Angler
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the biodiversity within them. Over the last 50+ years, CPAWS has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory. Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.
CPAWS has chapters in almost every province and territory across Canada, and two chapters here in Alberta – a Southern Alberta chapter located in Calgary and a Northern Alberta chapter located in Edmonton. As a collaborative organization, CPAWS works closely with government of all levels, industry representatives, and communities to manage our impact on a shared landscape. We also advocate for the creation of parks and protected areas for the benefit of both current and future generations of Canadians.