Wilderness No Place for Motorized Recreation

Alberta Wilderness Association

News Release: August 9, 2004

Community Development Minister, Gene Zwozdesky, is prohibiting motorized recreation in Willmore Wilderness Park; however, he is still supporting off-highway vehicle use in other public wilderness areas in the province. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) applauds the strong stand taken by Hon. Gene Zwozdesky to protect Willmore Wilderness Park from motorized recreation (OHV) traffic.

"Mr. Zwozdesky is wise to nip in the bud, new proposals to open or develop the Willmore" says Vivian Pharis, AWA Director. "As the largest protected and one of the oldest wilderness areas in Alberta, Willmore Wilderness Park is the shining beacon of the province's land conservation program."

Only the Willmore and three small, designated wilderness areas are truly protected in the province. While AWA appreciates Mr. Zwozdesky's refreshing approach to land protection, the Association remains fully opposed to any use of OHVs within designated protected areas.

"The present laissez-faire situation makes a mockery of land protection in Alberta" says Pharis. "The public expects lands designated as protected areas to be fully protected from industrial development and motorized recreation."

AWA disagrees with Mr. Zwozdesky's stated support for creating additional OHV opportunities on other public lands. OHV use has skyrocketed in the province especially in the past 10 years, encouraged by a general lack of regulations to protect important watershed, wildlife habitat and aesthetic values on most public lands. As a result there is an increasing degradation of land and water quality where OHVs are used.

"In order to protect valuable public resources, particularly Eastern Slopes watersheds and to promote vegetation regeneration in the boreal forest, the Alberta Government must begin to aggressively address the OHV
situation" says Lara Smandych, AWA Conservation Biologist. "Programs must include a combination of public education, regulations to protect watersheds, forests and wildlife habitats and full protection of much more of the land base from destructive uses."

AWA is supportive of increasing on-site Conservation and Fish and Wildlife Officers who are charged with protecting public lands and resources.

For further information and comment:

Vivian Pharis, AWA Director 403.932.2124
Lara Smandych, AWA Conservation Biologist 403.283.2025
or visit www.AlbertaWilderness.ca