LETTER: MLA Ron Orr misleads readers on Bighorn area

Past Conservative government recommended establishment of recreation and conservation areas

Dear Editor,

In response to Mr. Orr’s op-ed in the Ponoka News (Sept. 12), the Alberta Hiking Association (AHA) would like to indicate its strong support for establishment of a wildland park in the Bighorn.

The AHA has more than 20 member clubs across Alberta, including in Nordegg. Hiking is the most common recreational use of public lands in Alberta and more than 1.3 million Albertans walk and hike for pleasure. AHA members have volunteered on the Bighorn Backcountry Standing Committee for many years.

Read More: Reader speaks against MLA Ron Orr’s Bighorn claims

Public consultations via the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan have been underway for more than five years, and public questionnaires and 20 meetings have been held to gather input.

The Regional Advisory Council, made up of local stakeholders by the previous Conservative government recommended establishment of recreation and conservation areas in the Bighorn.

AHA, like other stakeholders eagerly awaits release of the draft plan. It makes no sense that one of the crown jewels of Alberta is not properly managed or resourced as a park and recreation area, and this neglect is starting to show in the lack of basic infrastructure to support increasing recreational use.

A large majority of Albertans support establishment of more parks for recreation and conservation. Parks support public use and recreation. Wildland parks allow virtually all recreational uses including hiking, horseback riding, hunting and ATV use on designated trails.

They prevent industrial uses, like coal mining, of which leases exist in the Bighorn. Unfortunately, Mr Orr’s op-ed includes substantial misleading information that seeks to polarize rather than advance recreation and conservation management in the Bighorn.

Murray Fierheller

Chairperson Alberta Hiking Association

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