A message of environmental respect for the West Country is being promoted by a group of landowners, oil and gas industry players and regulators.
West Central Stakeholders took out large newspaper advertisements in Red Deer Life and Central Alberta Life before the July long weekend and have printed 2,500 brochures promoting the message, “Using the West Country is a Privilege Not a Right.”
The brochures have been passed on to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development staff to be handed out and will also be distributed to various stores where people are likely to stop before heading out to enjoy the scenery.
The promotion includes photos of a Shell site left littered on the May long weekend by a huge amount of debris, including sleeping bags and tents and other junk left by irresponsible campers.
Another photo shows RVs gathered far too close to a piece of oil and gas equipment at a different lease site.
Krista Waters, facilitator for the Stakeholders, said the idea for the campaign was planted after the May long weekend last year when industry representatives with the group raised concerns about the lack of respect shown by some people for natural areas. The idea was raised again at an open house in March that drew about 200 people, including representatives from many different groups that use the back country.
It was clear from the discussion that many were concerned about the way some visitors to the West Country were treating the area.
“If there was one category that was consistently mentioned it was education and just communicating some messages on what you should do — and a little bit on what not to do.”
The ads remind visitors to take out what they bring, manage fires, stay on trails, stay at least 100 metres from oil and gas production equipment and not cross exposed pipelines as well as other advice.
Waters said there are regulations in place to protect people. “But if you’re camping too close it really affects their ability to keep you safe.”
A list of emergency contact numbers are also provided for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Clearwater Mutual Aid Group, Sunchild/O’Chiese Area Producers and the Energy Resources Conservation Board.
For more information go to www.westcentral.synergyalberta.ca.