URGENT CALL TO COUNCIL OF CANADIANS SUPPORTERS – THE BIGHORN COUNTRY

The Edmonton Chapter of the Council of Canadians urges all Albertans to show their support for proposed new and upgraded protection for the Bighorn Country, the primary source of the North Saskatchewan River.  This new parks system, adjacent to Jasper and Banff, will help to complete the Yellowstone-to-Yukon initiative, assuring protected travel corridors for wildlife. Measures are needed to protect this source of drinking water for Edmonton and the hundreds of thousands of prairie Canadians who depend on the North Saskatchewan River for daily sustenance.   Of course, a number of threatened animal and fish species also depend on the critical wild life habitat to be given additional ecological protection under this plan.

Several Alberta Council of Canadians Chapters have shown their support for this proposal. We are asking Edmonton Chapter supporters to get behind the AB Government proposal, at least in principle, by filling in the survey linked below as soon as possible before January 31, 2019. The AB Government will then decide if it will proceed with some $40 M of investment in this major initiative.

Background Information:

AB Gov Proposal :  https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country
AB Gov Site Maps : 
https://www.albertaparks.ca/media/6495885/site-profiles-consolidated.pdf
CPAWS Headwaters Campaign : 
https://cpawsnab.org/loveyourheadwaters/

ACT TO PROTECT THE BIGHORN NOW!

Please review the documents above and then participate as follows.  Your timely support for this proposal will be greatly valued.

  • Complete the surveys using the links below and submit to the AB Government (Environment and Parks)

AB Gov Survey – http://talkaep.alberta.ca/
CPAWS Survey Comment Guide – 
https://cpawsnab.org/bighorn-country-survey-comment-guide/

  • Attend one or more of the public information sessions in Alberta (January 15, 2019 in Edmonton – Radisson Edmonton South, 4440 Gateway Boulevard, 4:00 to 9:00 pm)
  • Present for your own organization at one or more Stakeholder Events (January 11, 2019 in Edmonton – 9:00 am to 4:00 pm)
  • Write and submit your own letters to the Minister of Environment and Parks.

The Bighorn Proposal has been in the consultation and development stage since 2014.   Predictably, a very vocal lobby of ATV users has lobbied to maintain unfettered use of these public lands.  However, through extensive negotiations, a compromise was agreed upon, whereby existing ATV user trails would remain open, but ATV users are restricted to use only the existing trails.   Further scientific data will be gathered to determine if any of the existing trails need to be closed for ecological reasons. We need to remind the ATV lobby and the Government of Alberta that the Bighorn Country is for the benefit of all Alberta citizens.   Significantly increased park staffing would  applyand enforce needed controls on ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) users.  As well, it is critical to strengthen legislated protection for this critical region in advance of any political changes that may occur in the future

THE VALUES OF ENHANCED PROTECTION FOR THE BIGHORN

  • The Bighorn watershed supplies the headwaters of the Saskatchewan and other prairie rivers, providing drinking water to over one million Albertans, as well as in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  • Climate change is real, forest cover is being destroyed by wildfire and Firesmart thinning, and invaluable moisture-retaining soils are being washed off slopes. Meanwhile, poorly regulated ATV use adds to soil erosion and the ability of this watershed to replenish streamflows that provide our drinking water.

·       The Bighorn is critical habitat for threatened and endangered species such as grizzly bear, bull trout, wolverine, harlequin duck, and Athabasca rainbow trout. 

·       These lands also have extensive cultural and historical significance for Indigenous Peoples. Since 2013, there have been more than 185 meetings and 16 workshops with Indigenous Peoples to recognize these values. 

  • 14.6 percent of Alberta is protected towards a target of 17% by 2020. However, 8.2 percent consists of National Parks, leaving only 6.4 percent as provincial protected areas. These parks would add more than 384,325 hectares of legislatively protected lands (369,395 ha within the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park and 14,931 hectares within the three other Provincial Parks), covering only 0.6% of Alberta.
  • This region has significant long-term economic potential – not as another guaranteed source of corporate exploitation, but primarily for the irreplaceable recreational and other needs of all Albertans. The proposed mix of parks and public lands provides for different types of tourism development, which would also directly benefit businesses and communities currently underemployed and also somewhat dependent on tourism.
  • The proposal takes care to have minimal impact on existing activities (including industry and ATV use) while offering protection needed for recreational, wildlife, watershed protection and other values.

MAPS OF BIGHORN AREA