A group of off-highway vehicle users gather on a pipline and utilities corridor in the West Country. (Advocate file photo)

Campaign renews push to make Bighorn Backcountry a wildland provincial park, ATV groups unhappy

A push to provide provincial protection for the Bighorn Backcountry area has been renewed as a conservation group is taking aim at the Alberta government.

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation initiative has a Love Your Headwaters campaign, which wants to protect the area, starting with the headwaters of both the Red Deer and North Saskatchewan Rivers. Both rivers supply a significant amount of drinking water for Edmonton and Red Deer.

“If we don’t take care of where our water comes from, then we’ll have less water for municipalities,” said Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation program director. “The cost of maintaining that water will rise exponentially.”

Some area off-highway vehicle users, however, are “not impressed,” saying they put a lot of work into environmental protection while enjoying the area.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to address the land and water issues that have been put forward and we’ve worked in compliance and in support of the Bighorn Backcountry Access Management plan of 2002,” said Calvin Rakach, member of the Bighorn Heritage ATV Society.

He estimates volunteers have spent at least $1.3 million in time, equipment, energy and materials building bridges, trails and toilets in the area over the last 15 years.

“We do that on weekends, we take our holidays,” said Rakach. “We do that for all Albertans, with the goal of environmental protection. We want to protect the water, we want to protect the land.”

Bighorn Backcountry, located near Nordegg, is one of three areas the Love Your Headwaters campaign is pushing to get protected. The Castle wildland provincial park, which was announced in 2015, and the Kananaskis Country and Ghost watershed, which has a portion of the Bow River’s headwaters.

Love Your Headwaters has both a petition on its website and a letter writing tool, aiding their campaign to make Bighorn Back Country a wildland provincial park.

“What we’ve found is the area where the mountains and the foothills sit along the eastern slope is incredibly important,” said Legault.

Legault said these debates often become polarized because off-highway vehicle users feel like they are being targeted.

“We’ve proposed to work collaboratively with the off-highway groups and the government to identify places OHV use is possible,” he said. “In the Bighorn region, probably an emphasis on the areas to the east of the Trunk Road (Hwy 40).”



mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Trudeau fields questions at town hall meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que.

SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. — Ottawa’s decision to sign the UN compact for migration… Continue reading

Americans face deadline to file paperwork for Huawei executive’s extradition

OTTAWA — American authorities are facing a key deadline at the end… Continue reading

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read