We have been networking and following-up with members regarding questions and concerns related to the Bighorn Proposals, and have been searching for answers about how the proposed changes would impact equestrians. We have been liaising one-on-one with the Minister’s Office to ensure we are obtaining definitive clarifications.
Here is what we have learned to date:
Q. What are the changes for equestrians in the proposed Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park?
A. Trail use and riding will see no change. Designated trails will remain available to equestrians, and off trail use will be available, unless an area is closed for a specific reason, such as emergency, environmental concern or similar. A number of backcountry camping areas are expected to become designated campgrounds and remain available for equestrian use. At this time, it is not clear if random camping, such as for hunters using horses, will still be available or not: the proposal references that random camping is only available to foot hikers. As in all Wildland Provincial Parks, dogs must be on-leash at all times. This change may be significant for some users.
Q. What are the changes for equestrians in the proposed David Thompson Provincial Park?
A. Currently, there are no opportunities for horse riding on the Siffleur side, and some limited opportunities on the north side, particularly for outfitters. We do not believe it is likely to result in increased opportunities, but we plan to ask for access across the south side of the new park into Whiterabbit Creek and northern Banff National Park.
Q. What will change in the Kiska/Wilson Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ)?
A. We do not believe that there will be any significant changes, although designated trails are mentioned, similar to Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park, and off-trail riding is expected to still be available.
Q. What will change at Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area?
A. There are a number of options being considered and proposed. They include improved trailhead facilities, camping facilities, but also the option for more front country type accommodations. We believe that the details of these will be discussed and debated in ongoing Advisory Group Sessions through 2019 and perhaps beyond.
Q. What changes are proposed to the areas that will be Snow Creek and Shunda Provincial Recreation Areas (PRAs)?
A. These very small areas are now part of Kiska/Wilson PLUZ, where horse use is permitted. Once carved out and they become PRAs, horses will not be permitted there.
Q. What is planned for the new Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park?
A. The focus of this area, currently Kiska/Willson PLUZ, is equestrian use. Existing front country camping will remain but there are likely upgrades planned and there is consideration of a backcountry camping area at Eagle Lake. We will advocate for rustic front country camping facilities, in keeping with the feel that exists there now.
Q. What is the West Country PLUZ and how will that impact equestrian use?
A. This large region is currently Forestry lands with a variety of designated and random roadside camping, as well as backcountry camping. The change to a PLUZ is unlikely to have any impact on horse use, and on/off trail use for equestrians is specifically mentioned.
We will continue to advocate for equestrian use and liaising with the government on behalf of our community and will share updates as they are provided.
If you would like to take further action, an online survey and more information on the Bighorn Country proposal is available at talkaep.alberta.ca. The deadline for feedback is January 31st, 2019. Additional written input, comments or concerns may also be sent to [email protected], or you can attend an engagement session.