Enforcement Ramps Up to Protect Public Land

By Gateway Gazette

May 19

Alberta is protecting parks and public land by increasing enforcement on violations like mud-bogging, littering, and unattended campfires.

Minister Shannon Phillips, Conservation Officer Eric Brownrigg and Minister Kathleen Ganley with law enforcement officials.

 

More than 300 fish and wildlife officers, conservation officers and seasonal park rangers will patrol public land, parks and protected areas this summer to keep Albertans safe, enforce rules and raise awareness about the regulations that protect the land.

“Albertans love their wild spaces. By increasing enforcement and improving signage and education, we’re taking steps to ensure that Alberta’s amazing public land is protected now and for future generations.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Between May and December 2016, provincial officers issued more than 6,800 charges and warnings for offences such as operating off-highway vehicles (OHVs) without insurance or registration, entering closed areas, fishing without a licence and cutting down trees.

“The May long weekend is a great time for Albertans to enjoy the outdoors, but it is also one of the busiest for our law enforcement. We want families to be able to enjoy our parks and public land safely.”

Kathleen Ganley, Justice and Solicitor General

Riding OHVs off designated trails erodes river banks and destroys natural vegetation, while “mud-bogging” – spinning wheels in muddy areas – can irrevocably damage the landscape. Use of OHVs can also harm sensitive fish-spawning grounds and contaminate rivers and streams. Camping on public land for more than 14 days straight creates pressure on natural ecosystems that can lead to lasting damage.

Alberta has introduced a new fine of $287 for leaving a campfire unattended. Beginning this week, OHV users riding without CSA-approved helmets can be fined up to $155.

This year, in addition to using existing provincial enforcement officers, the province is:

  • Hiring eight new seasonal problem wildlife positions to allow fish and wildlife officers more opportunity to enforce public lands legislation.
  • Hiring five new seasonal recreation engagement officers.
  • Re-hiring approximately 20 seasonal park rangers dedicated to public land.

Government staff also play an important role informing Albertans about rules and regulations. In 2016, more than 49,000 brochures and maps were handed out. Nearly 1,500 signs were ordered to increase awareness of provincial rules and regulations in key locations.

A report outlining last year’s education, prevention and enforcement efforts is now available online. Every two weeks this summer, Alberta will post statistics on public land warnings, violations, contacts with the public and calls to the Report A Poacher hotline.

Quick facts

  • Fish and wildlife officers, conservation officers, park rangers and RCMP work together to protect and preserve Alberta’s public lands.
  • Anyone who starts a wildfire can be fined up to $100,000, and corporations can be fined up to $1 million. To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (3473).
  • Anyone who witnesses a serious public land abuse can phone the Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

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