A letter to the Honorable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, from the Alberta Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
Dear Minister Phillips,
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is an organization dedicated to conservation of wild spaces throughout North America for the benefit of ecosystems, wildlife, and enjoyment of hunters, anglers and others. To this end, the Alberta Chapter of BHA has been active in a number of conservation initiatives throughout the province including our public support for the creation of the Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks.
Due to our focus on the conservation of wildlife habitat and public lands, the Bighorn Backcountry has been identified as an area of particular importance to our membership. Because the Bighorn Backcountry is one of the few remaining places in our Province that is predominantly wilderness, it maintains unique value for hunters and anglers in addition to being important habitat for threatened fish and wildlife species such as westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and grizzly bears. However, the current status of the Bighorn leaves it open to threats from industrial development, linear feature habitat fragmentation, and wildlife displacement and habitat loss by motorized access.
We are very pleased to hear that your government is evaluating the possibility of redesignating the Bighorn Backcountry as a Wildland Provincial Park. This designation would protect the ecological integrity of the Bighorn for the benefit of wildlife and Albertans. Designating the Bighorn as a Wildland Provincial Park would permit hunting, fishing, backcountry camping, and equestrian use among other low impact recreation activities in an area that preserves a true wilderness experience. Moreover, maintaining the attraction of this area to low-impact users would economically benefit a range of businesses in the nearby communities of Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House through hunting and angling tourism - an identified goal of both Clearwater County and the community of Nordegg. Alberta BHA is strongly in support of the creation of a Wildland Provincial Park in the Bighorn Backcountry starting west of the Forestry Trunk Road [Highway 734) and extending to Banff and Jasper National Parks, and we would be pleased to be considered a stakeholder for this consulting process.
Given our membership's strong interest and direct connections to the Alberta wilderness, we would like the opportunity to provide feedback into linear disturbance standards, trail locations, habitat protection measures and potential designations you may be considering for the Bighorn Backcountry and the North Saskatchewan Region as a whole.
Thank you for considering the views of BHA. We wish to see the wilderness and conservation values of the Bighorn Backcountry protected, and fish and wildlife habitat properly stewarded throughout the planning area. We look forward to hearing from you soon, learning more about the options, and continuing to provide input into this critically important decision about the future of one of the great, but currently under-protected, wilderness places in Alberta.
Aliah Adams Knopff
Public Lands Coordinator, Alberta Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
cc. Deputy Minister Andre Corbould
Neil Keown Chair Alberta Backcountry Hunters & Anglers