New Vision Needed For Public Lands

News Release: August 13, 2004

After coming through a year of controversy over public
access to grazing leases for recreation, the government
has opened up the issue of public land sales again.
While the new Farm Holdings Consolidation Program
simply makes buying leased land a little more attractive
to leaseholders, it has brought the public lands issue
to the fore. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA)
believes that these contentious issues are all symptoms
of the same problem - the lack of an overarching
policy for public lands in Alberta.

"The Alberta Government has no policy for public lands,"
says Cliff Wallis, AWA Past-President, "which means that
basically anything goes. Despite what the public has said
over the last few decades, that public lands are important
for wildlife, recreation and wilderness values, that really
has never has been reflected in legislation or in policy.
We have a public land law, but it doesn't state what the
prime purpose and intent of public lands is, which leads
to mismanagement and allocation and sales."

"Albertans need a vision for their public lands," says
Jason Unger, AWA Conservation Specialist. "What
values do we place on public land? What principles
should govern public land management, today and
into the future? As stewards of public land it is
everyone's responsibility to answer these questions."

This fall AWA will be holding the first of its Public Lands
Roundtables to open a discussion of these issues. The
intent will be to develop a vision and fundamental principles
to guide decision-making for our public lands.

AWA has always been a staunch defender of our public
lands. Public lands are valued for their natural resources
such oil and gas, timber, water and rangeland, but they
also provide ecological goods and services, social and
spiritual benefits and opportunities for recreation. If
these values are to be retained into the future the
current land use framework in Alberta must be reformed.

For further information contact:
Jason Unger, AWA Conservation Specialist: 403.283.2025
Cliff Wallis: 403.271.1408