This picture of Abraham Lake from Hood Doo Creek was taken by reader Craig Saunders. AEP announced Friday proposed changes to Bighorn Country, including a $40 million investment over five years to the area, plus three new provincial parks. Photo by Craig Saunders

This picture of Abraham Lake from Hood Doo Creek was taken by reader Craig Saunders. AEP announced Friday proposed changes to Bighorn Country, including a $40 million investment over five years to the area, plus three new provincial parks. Photo by Craig Saunders

Alberta proposes $40 million investment into Bighorn Country over five years

Province seeks feedback on the proposal which brings 3 new provincial parks to the area

Alberta proposes a $40 million investment into Bighorn Country over the next five years.

The announcement came Friday afternoon with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) proposing a mix of parks and public lands, “…that would preserve natural landscapes while supporting a wide range of world-class tourism and recreation opportunities,” states the release.

For AEP it appears improvements and changes could bring tourism potential. The ministry wants to hear from Albertans on the proposal through a website and survey (see links below).

Part of the $40 million would also go to: “The refurbishment of 240 existing campsites and the construction of more than 150 new campsites. This would also include investment in parking lots, trails and staging areas,” states the release.

The province also proposes what it calls direct consultation on extending tourism leases beyond 25-years, “…to bolster private investment in tourism infrastructure…”

“Bighorn Country contains some of the greatest unrealized potential in Alberta for its unique ecosystems and stunning landscapes,” states the four-page proposal. “It is a source of clean drinking water and home to a large variety of plants and animals including rare and at-risk species.”

The goal is to conserve that area by designating it a new “Wildland Provincial Park”. Among the proposed changes to the land-use zones, the province says it would protect headwaters and the biodiversity while also bringing in outdoor recreation, plus support the “unrealized tourism potential.”

Read More: AEP’s Bighorn Country Proposal

Read More: Take the Bighorn Country Survey

Three new provincial parks are proposed: The David Thompson Provincial Park, The North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park, and the Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park. These parks would see infrastructure investment.

The proposal discusses 11 key areas and the allowed uses for them. For instance, the “Bighorn Wildlife Provincial Park” would bring low-impact backcountry recreation while allowing “high-quality hunting and fishing.”

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr said that he hasn’t had a full review of the proposal, however, his worry with the whole process is that central Albertans will not be considered.

“Good for them if they actually do (listen) but their track record isn’t good,” said Orr.

He also worries that the province may have already made its mind on the area.

That being said, Orr feels there is a need to review policy in Bighorn Country due to aging policies and increased traffic and usage. He agrees that some review needs to be made and that the UCP would also include a review.

“I think it needs to involve reasonable, actual engagement,” stated Orr.

Read More: MLA Ron Orr speaks to provincial changes to the Bighorn area

Shortly after the announcement the Alberta hiking Association, which represents 21 hiking clubs in the province, sent out a press release speaking in favour of the proposal. Murray Fierheller, AHA chairperson, said their member enjoy the area and its hiking potential and tourist potential. “This is like a new ‘Kananaskis’ for central Alberta and a great day for all Albertans who hike, camp, hunt, fish and trail ride.”

Included in the proposal are three provincial recreation areas: Snow Creek, Bighorn Dam and Hummingbird. These would allow for staging areas of ATVs and snowmobiles.

Within each area the AEP outlines uses of visitor experiences, which allow for hunting use of recreation off-highway vehicles as well as other permitted uses. The list includes items such as what types of commercial uses are allowed. There is quite a bit that would be allowed, according to the proposal.

The proposal adds 400,000 hectares of protected land and increases overall protection in Alberta to 15.2 per cent, up from 14.6 per cent.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read