Lacombe County land dispute to be resolved

Landowners next to new Kuhnen Natural Area feared trespassing and liability issues

A dispute over the boundary of a new natural area in Lacombe County appears to have been resolved.

Penny and Hunter Warford had complained to the county earlier this year that the boundary of the Kuhnen Natural Area on the north side of Red Deer River near Alix encroaches on their property.

The Warfords say in a letter to the county the head of a trail is actually on their land, which means people are trespassing on their property, creating potential liability concerns.

The couple is also concerned about litter, dogs spooking cattle, trespassing, illegal hunting and the potential for fence damage.

The Warfords say in their letter they asked the county to post a no-trespassing sign in the area, but nothing has happened.

Lacombe County had proposed leasing some of their land for $1, but the couple were not impressed.

“We were understandably insulted by this,” they wrote.

County staff looking into the situation agreed trespassing could prove a problem.

“This situation does pose a liability risk for the affected landowner,” says a report to council from operations manager Bill Cade.

A couple of options were presented to council, including moving the trail off the Warfords’ land. However, because the trail is located on a bluff on the old river’s edge, a lot of dirt would need to be moved and trees and vegetation cleared to allow heavy equipment in.

Relocating a portion of the trail would take more than two days and cost about $18,500, Cade estimated.

The second option — which council agreed to — would see the county purchase about 2.5 acres at $4,200 per acre. Adding in $2,500 for legal survey and land registration, and a $500 subdivision fee, the total bill will be $16,850.

“Although both options are relatively close in costs, the option to acquire the land and consolidate it with the Kuhnen Natural Area would be less intrusive on the existing conditions at this site,” says Cade.

Penny Warford said last Friday she preferred not to comment, because the couple had not yet been officially informed of council’s decision or seen an agreement.

The Kuhnen Natural Area was created from 65 acres of untouched land donated by Frank and Rosalie Kuhnen.

It was the second land donation from the farming couple. In 2015, they donated 140 acres near Lacombe Lake that became Kuhnen Park, a more formal setting with picnic and washroom facilities.

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