Though rumours abound about the future of Bighorn Backcountry, a town hall meeting was held to talk about what is happening with the protected area.
Cal Rakach, a member of the Bighorn Heritage ATV Society, was one of the presenters at the meeting put on by Jason Nixon, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Wednesday at Dovercourt Hall, located halfway between Rocky Mountain House and Caroline.
Nixon said the NDP needs to meet with Albertans and “communicate with people impacted by their decisions to hide from them. Very disappointed no one from the government participated.”
The meeting, held at Dovercourt Hall, was to talk about the future of the Bighorn Backcountry and Alberta’s Eastern Slopes.
Groups such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society have lobbied the government to increase environmental protections for the area, located west of Rocky Mountain House.
For ATV and other motor vehicle users, that could reduce where they can use their vehicles.
ATV users, like Rakach, have put in about $1.3 million worth of time, equipment, energy and materials into building bridges, trails and toilets over the past 15 years.
“This has only just begun,” said Rakach. “We held the open house to bring people up to speed as to what has been going on in the Bighorn. There’s a great big unknown, that we don’t know what the government is going to do.”
Rakach said they are waiting for the release of the Regional Advisory Council’s report for the area. It is part of the North Saskatchewan Region’s planning process.
“That unknown is driving a lot of the frustration,” said Rakach, who said he’s been involved with the area since it became a public land use zone in 2002. “In our view it is protected as a public land use zone. It has all the protections in place. Some people just don’t want motors.”
The Bighorn Backcountry is one of four areas part of the Love Your Headwaters petition and letter-writing campaign, a push to protect western areas of the province by the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative.