West Country guardian program should be preserved: county

Clearwater County is lobbying the province to spare a program that sent guardians into the West Country to crack down on illegal quadding and other problems.

Clearwater County is lobbying the province to spare a program that sent guardians into the West Country to crack down on illegal quadding and other problems.

County manager Ron Leaf said there have been rumours that the province is looking at cutting back the number of back-country guardians assigned to the province’s popular natural areas.

Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton was pressed to outline the government’s plans at a meeting last month of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

“The minister didn’t speak directly to the question. He talked about some new legislation that was in place to allow them to address the concerns that we were raising in terms of trespassing, littering and some other issues.”

But the view of Clearwater council is that if there aren’t enough people dedicated to the job of finding troublemakers, fining them and pursuing cases through the courts, the legislation will be toothless.

Council voted recently to send a letter to the minister seeking clarification on whether cuts are coming, and if so, how deep. The county also reiterated its support for the program that assigns five Sustainable Resource Development guardians to patrol provincial Forest Land Use Areas on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in the summer. Two cover the territory in the winter.

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development spokeswoman Kathy Kiel said no decision had been made yet on the guardian program. The program that was started in 2005 employs 23 guardians across Alberta to monitor public lands, provide education and enforce legislation. Leaf said the guardian issue is only part of a bigger issue about how to manage and police a back-country area that has become increasingly popular for visitors, many of them arriving with quads.

“This area, and in particular to the Crown land to the west, is a huge playground,” he said.

A five-year-old study identified that one out of three Albertans visit Clearwater County annually and about a third have quads. “That tells us that we have roughly a million visitors out there.”

County council doesn’t want to see a diminishing role for Sustainable Resource Development, which has authority over the Crown lands.

“If they’re stepping back, in council’s view that is going in the wrong direction in terms of addressing the issues that are occurring within the public lands.”

Leaf is hoping to hear back from the province on its intentions by the end of January.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

TORONTO — Christine Sinclair continues to have an impact on and off… Continue reading

In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine.… Continue reading

Happy birthday Boler: 100s of cute campers in Winnipeg for anniversary gathering

WINNIPEG — Angela Durand sits outside her camper which is decorated to… Continue reading

Merkel, Putin share a headache: Donald Trump

FRANKFURT — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will… Continue reading

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

TORONTO — The president of Tim Hortons says a plan to conquer… Continue reading

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been… Continue reading

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault while on the job

TORONTO — A Toronto newspaper photographer said he opted to file a… Continue reading

Annual inflation rate jumped to 3.0% in July, highest reading since 2011

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says higher gasoline prices helped push the country’s… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month