Out­door en­thu­si­asts urged to re­spect public land

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Spe­cial to the Post

More than 300 pro­vin­cial en­force­ment of­fi­cers will pa­trol public land, parks and pro­tected ar­eas this spring and sum­mer.

Over the up­com­ing long week­end and through­out the rest of the sea­son, pro­vin­cial govern­ment staff once again worked to­gether to en­sure ev­ery­one un­der­stands and fol­lows the rules and reg­u­la­tions that pro­tect public lands.

Last year, pro­vin­cial en­force­ment of­fi­cers is­sued 6,595 charges and warn­ings for var­i­ous of­fences on public land. Of those, 644 were for of­fences un­der the Public Lands Act and Public Lands Ad­min­is­tra­tion Reg­u­la­tion.

“As Al­ber­tans, we are truly for­tu­nate to have so many out­door re­cre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties. It is our mis­sion to con­serve and pro­tect our public land so that it is al­ways there for peo­ple to en­joy.”

Shan­non Phillips, Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment and Parks

“We want Al­ber­tans to en­joy the great out­doors safely this long week­end. Our govern­ment is com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing our nat­u­ral sur­round­ings while keep­ing peo­ple safe.”

Kath­leen Gan­ley, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral

On top of the core fund­ing for public land en­force­ment and man­age­ment, govern­ment will pro­vide an ad­di­tional $1.5 mil­lion for:

• hir­ing about 20 sea­sonal park rangers

• hir­ing five sea­sonal re­cre­ation en­gage­ment of­fi­cers

• hir­ing eight sea­sonal prob­lem wildlife po­si­tions to al­low fish and wildlife of­fi­cers more op­por­tu­nity to en­force public lands leg­is­la­tion

• ed­u­ca­tion ma­te­ri­als and tar­geted out­reach

Fish and wildlife of­fi­cers, con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers, park rangers and RCMP work to­gether to en­force leg­is­la­tion on public land.

En­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers, lands of­fi­cers and for­est of­fi­cers also play an im­por­tant part in mon­i­tor­ing for is­sues and ed­u­cat­ing land users about re­spon­si­ble prac­tices.

This year, en­force­ment per­son­nel will be able to write on-the-spot tick­ets for an ad­di­tional 38 new and in­creased spec­i­fied penal­ties for ex­ist­ing public land and water bod­ies of­fences.

These changes mean en­force­ment per­son­nel can spend less time in court and more time on the land­scape.

“These new pro­ce­dures will al­low our of­fi­cers to op­er­ate more ef­fec­tively when it comes to pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of Al­berta’s beau­ti­ful lands and wa­ter­ways. Any process that in­creases ef­fi­ciency in our day-to-day du­ties frees of­fi­cers to bet­ter serve their com­mu­ni­ties in other ca­pac­i­ties.”

John Fer­gu­son, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner, Al­berta RCMP Crim­i­nal Op­er­a­tions Of­fi­cer, Core Polic­ing

En­ter­ing a re­stricted/pro­hib­ited area in a Public Land Use Zone will net vi­o­la­tors a $402 fine and fail­ing to re­port to a manda­tory wa­ter­craft in­spec­tion sta­tion will cost $310. Fines for ran­dom camp­ing on public land for more than 14 con­sec­u­tive days will in­crease from $172 to $287. The changes will come into force on May 31.

“The Al­berta Fish & Game As­so­ci­a­tion ap­plauds the govern­ment’s work to clean up public land. De­struc­tive, ir­re­spon­si­ble use of public land gives us all a black eye. We have al­ways been in favour of in­creased en­force­ment along­side a com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion, in­for­ma­tion and aware­ness pro­gram about stew­ard­ship of our public land and wa­ters. We con­tinue to be in favour of ac­cess to all public land in a re­spon­si­ble and non-de­struc­tive man­ner.”

Doug But­ler, pres­i­dent, Al­berta Fish & Game As­so­ci­a­tion

“Coun­cil for the Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict of Bon­nyville fully sup­ports Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment and Parks changes to the man­age­ment of our public land. M.D. coun­cil be­lieves the new en­force­ment reg­u­la­tions will re­sult in a bet­ter uti­liza­tion of the fish and wildlife of­fi­cers’ time, as well as pro­vid­ing a more en­joy­able out­door ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors to our public land.”

Greg Sawchuk, reeve, Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict of Bon­nyville

While most peo­ple take care not to dam­age public lands, the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples of se­ri­ous public land abuse con­tinue to oc­cur:

• Driv­ing a car, truck, OHV, etc., through a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring water body.

• Dump­ing large amounts of garbage.

• Cut­ting down trees and cre­at­ing new trails in­stead of us­ing ex­ist­ing ones.

• Build­ing unau­tho­rized struc­tures on public land.

• Ran­dom camp­ing in the same lo­ca­tion for more than 14 days.

• En­ter­ing closed ar­eas.

• Sta­tis­tics on en­force­ment ac­tions will be pub­lished on­line ev­ery 14 days.

• Spe­cial com­pli­ance re­ports will be pub­lished af­ter ev­ery long week­end.

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