Wednesday, 05 October 2011 11:32

Writing-on-stone to nearly double in size

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By Jamie Woodford
Milk River
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is expanding its property to protect even more of the hoodoo-laden parkland that contains ancient Blackfoot rock art.
The historic attraction will add 1,000 hectares to the current 1,700 hectares that have been protected since 1977.

The exact location of the new land has not been released, but Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation Cindy Ady said it is located near the Milk River.

“What we’re protecting is a big piece of history,” she said. “Those carvings in rock tell an early history of hundreds of years ago, and so that’s why we think it’s important to protect it and to have it a part of our park system because once that’s gone — it’s gone.”

The property was offered by an area landowner, said Ady, adding the ministry often gets offers for various plots of land, “but this one scaled up to that level.”

“It’s fairly significant when you think about the land and it preserves forever,” she said. “(It’s) our opportunity to make sure that those kinds of things are taken care of into the future.”

The minister recalled her first visit to the site, describing the view as a “gasper.”

“The first time I stood above it and looked down I went ‘Wow! Who knew we had this?’” she said. “It’s very different than other regions in the province. It’s very unique ... It’s a very special place in the world.”

A team of archaeologists led by Jack Brink of the Royal Alberta Museum will assess the rock carvings on the new land.

Meantime, Writing-On-Stone has been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for its ancient sandstone petroglyphs and pictographs, but it is not known when it might be bestowed — if at all.

It’s an ongoing process, said Ady, noting the ministry is working with the local Blackfoot nation and federal government.

“The people in the area have to be a part of that decision-making process, as well, and it’s a fairly involved process.”

If granted the designation, the park would join other world heritage sites in southern Alberta including Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Dinosaur Provincial Park and Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

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