Alberta’s new trails law has met with mixed reviews

LETHBRIDGE, Alberta. –

Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon on Tuesday announced a new Trails Act, or Bill 79, which he says aims to better protect and conserve the trail system. of our province.

“The Trails Act will help maintain the rich history of trails in our province,” Nixon said in Tuesday’s announcement.

“If passed, the act and changes to the Public Lands Act will improve Alberta’s trail system so that our trails are sustainable, better managed and enjoyed by all.

Nixon said the new legislation will improve Alberta’s trails by designating them for specific uses, such as hiking, biking or off-roading, and strengthen enforcement along the way.

The law will also mean better signage and mapping as well as better crossing of watercourses.

This is good news for bands like the Corbeau Pass Quad Squad, which has been proposing regulations to the Government of Alberta since 2003.

“It’s just a win-win situation for everyone,” said Quad Squad President Gary Clark.

“Not just for our groups but for ATV clubs, hiking association, snowmobile groups. Anyone can enjoy it.”

MODIFIED TRAIL USE

According to Nixon, trail laws have not been updated in the province since 1979 and trail use has changed dramatically since then.

These proposed changes will allow groups of volunteers, such as the Quad Squad, to request that trails be designated and protected under law while protecting surrounding ecosystems.

“This is going to allow us to fix badly eroded trails, keep the water off the trails and in doing so we also make it safer for everyone,” Clark said.

However, not everyone is happy with the new proposal.

NDP environment critic and Edmonton-Gold Bar MP Marlin Schmidt believes that does not establish a strong enough plan as to which trails to designate and who will take care of them.

“The legislation will not set any sort of regulatory requirements on who can be a manager or what a trail management plan should involve,” Schmidt told CTV News.

“It’s all going to be left to politics. “

Schmidt also believes this puts too much decision-making power in Minister Nixon’s hands.

“I think, at the very least, that there should be stricter limits in place to restrict the minister’s authority to act on this issue.”

“BASED ON SCIENCE”

The Alberta Nature Association (AWA) is also concerned about the protection of the surroundings and the qualification of those who designate the trails.

“Trail planning needs to be science-based and we need to have these sub-regional regional plans in place that deal with the cumulative effects of industry and recreation on the landscape and that will tell us where it is appropriate to have them. trails, ”said AWA conservation specialist Devon Earl.

Trail Act announced on November 3, 2021

Earl added that they want to see a more environmentally focused method when deciding where to designate new trails.

“What we really want to see is that the trails are developed where it is appropriate, both environmentally and socially,” she said.

“It should be based on valued ecosystem components like water quality, fish and wildlife habitats. These are things Albertans enjoy having on the landscape and these things need to be taken into account. consideration.”

If passed, the Trails Act will come into effect immediately, with the exception of the requirement for a trail management plan, which would be tabled next spring.


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