Friday, 15 September 2017 06:46

Landowners raise their voices for the Government to acknowledge better public land use management

Written by  Demi Knight
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The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative released a short video project Aug. 24 displaying landowners’ thoughts throughout the Porcupine Hills to Livingstone region across the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains about having better public land restrictions for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs).

The ‘Voices from the Land’ video project was brought to light to present the government with landowners’ thoughts from long-standing personal experience on the matter of public land-use throughout the region.
Connie Simmons, program co-ordinator at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, says
it’s important for the government to hear these voices when considering new land management systems.
“Right now, the Government of Alberta is working
on land-use recreation and planning processes, and during this time, it’s important to hear from the people who live adjacent to those lands with their land wisdom and long-standing knowledge of this region.”
This video series was an idea Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative officials came up with to best represent voices of those who not only live on the land, but have spent generations caring for it and watching as slowly over the years problems of
over-use, pollution, noise and disruption became more prominent.
“The pace and scale of use within these areas has caused noise and disruption,
it’s above and beyond what the land can handle,” says Simmons. “There’s even impacts with displacement of wildlife and these landowners, well they’ve seen it more and more, they’ve experienced it, so, listening
to their local knowledge and wisdom is important.”
Throughout the video series, 10 land stewards tell their stories of why public
land is so important to preserve and their experiences with increasing traffic.
Simmons says it was easy to get participants to be a part of this series.
It’s an issue many local landowners feel passionate about.
“We sent out an invitation, and it was open ended, people only had to respond if they wanted too. And we asked simple questions such as, ‘What have you seen? What do you think would be a good solution? What is your land ethic?’”
Simmons adds people were fast to reply with their own views on the land that has surrounded them for as long as they could remember.
“People definitely responded. These people have been here for multiple generations and they want to keep the land safe, see wildlife, and have good water. It’s that simple.”
Provincial government officials are currently working on developing a recreation plan for the Porcupine Hills and Livingstone region under the South Saskatchewan Regional Land Use Plan, meaning now was the perfect time to ask the government to listen to the voices of those who
have seen damage occur from unmanaged use of public lands escalate throughout the years.
Although it can be noted, it is not the intention
of the landowners as well as Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative to get rid of OHV use on public lands, but to just better manage them. Through the video series officials also hope to encourage the government to ensure more space is available for other quiet recreation activities such as hiking trails, hunting and fishing within their new management plan, says Simmons.
“In southern Alberta, about two per cent of the population use OHVs, so it’s important to address how many other Albertans need places on these lands to engage in activities such as hiking and fishing, as well as a plan on how to actually manage all these kinds of recreation.”
With scientific analysis showing over OHV use can cause detrimental impacts on forestry and water resources, it is important for the government to acknowledge the need of updated managements for these activities to best preserve wildlife, water resources and the beauty of southern Alberta lands.

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