Outdoor enthusiasts who love and know Bighorn Country are excited about the government’s plans to further protect this magnificent and pristine wilderness.
I am sure those who have expressed some opposition to the government’s plans are not against protecting the Bighorn, but rather, feel it will infringe on their wilderness experience.
The reality, however, is when sharing the great outdoors with ever more people pursuing a variety of outdoor activities, some rules have to be set for the benefit of all.
Some people claim not enough consultation has taken place.
On the contrary, the history of consultations for protecting the Bighorn goes back 50 years.
In 1971, the government called for protection of the Eastern Slopes in light of new industrial and motorized activity in pristine areas at the time.
In 1973, by way of provincewide hearings, 65 per cent of Albertans polled supported full conservation of the Eastern Slopes, including Bighorn.
In 1975, the government made a policy statement that 70 per cent of the Eastern Slopes region would remain undisturbed.
In 1986 and 1993, the province recommended the Bighorn wildland be protected, and in 2001, new recreational measures were proposed for Bighorn Country, all after extensive public input.
In short, the present Bighorn initiative by the government is the result of 50 years of public consultation by various governments. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers have spent countless days in the Bighorn area restoring badly damaged stream banks, fixing trails, removing garbage and monitoring its precious flora and fauna.
As far as I can gather from the government’s plan, present recreational activities will remain as is; it just wants to reduce damage to land, streams and lakes, while increasing the trail system and facilities.
Conservation of fauna, flora and the all-important headwaters will be paramount.
After 50 years of public consultation, the time for full protection of the magnificent and pristine Bighorn is now.
T. Barratt, Red Deer County