You can help create a Provincial Wildland Park in the Bighorn

Now is the time to protect the Bighorn! We need your help!

A Wildland Park in the Bighorn region provides an opportunity to protect a large, relatively intact landscape, promote sustainable tourism opportunities, and fulfill international commitments. The Bighorn region is a prime opportunity to combine wilderness protection, from industrial development and high-impact motorized recreation, with sustainable backcountry recreation. As demonstrated in Kananaskis Country and other protected areas, people seek out backcountry opportunities for the authentic wilderness experiences and lack of development.

Parks and protected areas offer many ecological, social, and economic benefits and should be expanded across the province. The Bighorn Backcountry, which covers over 6,700 square kilometers of mountains, rolling forested foothills, and grassland plains, is an outdoor recreationist’s paradise and the source of water for more than 1.2 million Albertans who depend on the North Saskatchewan Watershed.

This integral area, which is home to several at-risk species, is the missing piece linking Banff and Jasper National Parks. If protected, it would provide large-scale wildlife connectivity along Alberta’s Eastern Slopes, while providing important habitat protection in the underrepresented foothills region of Alberta.

Nearly a century ago, much of the Bighorn Wildland was federally protected, as part of the adjacent National Park, but the protection was rescinded during the First World War. In 1986, the provincial government promised to reinstate its protection but failed to follow through. Just over 5,000 km2 of the Bighorn are currently designated as a series of six Public Lands Use Zones (PLUZs), which are designed to enable industrial activity in a region but allow the province some ability to regulate recreational activity on public lands. While this allows some increased management on the landscape, it does not offer the necessary long-term protection of wildlife, fish, water, and quiet recreation found in a Wildland Park.

Now is the time to reinstate this protection. Help achieve protection of the Bighorn Backcountry as a Wildland Park by pledging your name in support of the campaign at www.albertapreserves.ca

Chris Smith
Parks Coordinator, CPAWS Northern Alberta

Katie Morrison
Conservation Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta