Friday, 05 August 2016 08:00

Alta. enforcement officers given back the right to issue fines for public land abuses

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Oldman Watershed Council Outreach Assistant Rob Taylor removes a tire from the backcountry. As of Aug. 6 enforcement officers will be able to fine people for offences committed on public lands such as littering or failing to keep areas in satisfactory condition. Oldman Watershed Council Outreach Assistant Rob Taylor removes a tire from the backcountry. As of Aug. 6 enforcement officers will be able to fine people for offences committed on public lands such as littering or failing to keep areas in satisfactory condition. Photo contributed

As of Aug. 6, officers enforcing the rules around the use of public lands in Alberta, will have the ability to ticket on the spot.


According to a July 13 news release, when the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR) consolidated four regulations in 2011 the violations were amended, but the specific ticket amounts were omitted. Without specified ticket amounts, officers would issue a summons to appear in court and proceed to trial.
Starting next month, penalty amounts for public lands offences will range from $100 up to as high as $500 depending on the nature of the violation. Offences can be in relation to off-highway vehicle use, damage and destruction to resources, and inappropriate waste disposal.
“We need to protect and respect our public lands and those who don’t care can now be ticketed on the spot,” says Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks. “This approach will ensure enforcement personnel can be out on the land helping Albertans instead of spending their time in court.”
Enforcement officers can also choose to issue written warnings, require individuals to repair any damage they caused or compel people to appear in court. Not all violations under the Forest Recreation Regulation are ticket offences.
Organizations that deal with the land and do work in public areas are supportive of the government’s decision to reinstate financial penalties.
“It’s always good to have more resources put to management of our natural resources,” says Norine Ambrose, executive director of Cows and Fish. “In the past, generally there has been not enough resources on some of our public lands. If we’re highlighting the importance of these areas, that is one way this happens.”
Officials with the Oldman Watershed Council are also supportive of more tools for use by enforcement personnel. The organization has four summer personnel on the ground working in southwest Alberta and they are seeing a lot of damage, as well as items left behind by recreationists and campers.
“With the degree of devastation we’re seeing, it’s shocking the amounts of abuse in the back country,” says Anna Garleff, communications spokesperson for Oldman Watershed Council. “We can only educate so many people.”
She says people will need to be educated about the fact fines will be back in place. Government officials are planning to initiate a public education and awareness campaign, according to the news release.
Garleff says some people need to be educated about what is proper behaviour on public lands, raising the general awareness of all users.
“Part of our job is to make sure this knowledge is circulated,” she adds about the role that OWC officials can play.
“Most people want to do the right thing once they realize the importance of stream crossings and effects on the drinking water downstream.”
Garleff is also appreciative that reinstating fines is giving enforcement officers another tool to use to help protect public lands.
“(It’s) giving (them the) back-up they need to deal with people who think the rules don’t apply to them.”
Anyone who witnesses serious public lands abuse can phone the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.
Some examples of offences and their fine amounts:
• Fail to comply with signs and notices when within Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ)/Public Land Recreation Area (PLRA)/Public Land Recreation Trail (PLRT) — $250;
• Fail to keep PLUZ and improvements in satisfactory condition — $150;
• Fail to restore PLUZ to clean/tidy condition when vacating — $150;
• Operate on highway vehicle except on highway in PLUZ — $250;
• Operate off-highway/snow vehicle in PLUZ — $250;
• Graze/tether horse within 100 metres of lakeshore — $150;
• Start/maintain open fire within one kilometre of a PLRA or in a provincial recreation area within PLUZ — $500;
• Unauthorized set trap, use explosive, discharge firearm in PLRA/PLRT — $250;
• Discharge firearm that endangers people/resources in PLRA/PLRT — $500;
• Failure to operate motor vehicle in PLRA in prescribed manner  — $250;
• Camping accommodation unit in PLRA exceeding 14 consecutive days without authorization — $150;
• Fail to properly leash/constrain pet — $100;
• Damage/deface/destroy/remove any resource/firewood without authorization — $250;
• Fail to keep land and resources within PLRA in satisfactory condition — $150;
• Interfere with others quiet enjoyment of PLRA — $250;
• Fail to restore campsite to clean/tidy condition when vacating — $150;
• Fail to properly dispose of waste — $150;
• Operate Motor Vehicle on PLRT — $250;
• Exceed posted speed limit on highway/trail in PLUZ in McLean Creek — $100;
• Fail to comply with instruction/ order of officer Castle Special Management. Area — $350;
• Fail to comply with signs and notices in/about Castle Special Management Area zone — $250;
• Operate on-highway vehicle except on highway within Castle Special Management Area zone without access permit — $250;
• Operate off-highway vehicle/
snow vehicle within Castle Special Management Area zone without access permit — $250.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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