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Poor Parks in Rich Alberta

Report finds Alberta’s Parks are struggling

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Northern Alberta

Edmonton - A report released today at a news conference in Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park by CPAWS-Northern Alberta chapter finds that Alberta is failing to adequately support its provincial parks network. The report, entitled, The State of the Alberta Parks and Protected Areas: an analysis of the challenges and opportunities for ecological integrity is being released just six days before the official 75th anniversary of Alberta Parks.

The report found that despite some recent reinvestment initiatives, the Alberta Parks Division continues to struggle to meet its primary mandate of preserving Alberta’s diverse natural regions. Financial cutbacks, government re-organization and a lack of priority for the environment, have resulted in nearly 20 years of neglect for the Alberta parks network. Reduced funding for the Alberta Parks Division has resulted in limited capacity for scientific monitoring, a backlog of management plans, a significant lack of enforcement officers, and the elimination of numerous heritage programs.

"Although Premier Stelmach has recently begun to re-invest in the province's parks network, the problems our parks have been facing for decades is a lack of political support and leadership," says Rebecca Reeves, CPAWS ParksWatch Coordinator and author of the report.

The report finds that the failure of the government to effectively recognize and protect the province's ecological values has resulted in an incomplete network of small, isolated "islands" of parks and protected areas. In addition, Alberta is now ranked as having the weakest parks legislation in Canada. This legislation has allowed for some industrial and motorized recreation within park boundaries and along nearly all park boundaries and allows the Alberta government to cancel protected areas without public notice. All of these challenges are compromising the ecological health of the parks and protected areas.

"A healthy, well funded and representative parks and protected areas network would ensure that our environment is protected within our increasingly busy landscape. By investing in and protecting our ecological riches now, Albertans can enjoy the many social, cultural and health benefits that parks can offer for generations to come," says Rebecca Reeves, CPAWS ParksWatch Program Coordinator and author of the report.

The report outlines recommendations to improve the parks system including, increasing funding, strengthening legislation and expanding the parks network to better represent the full range of diversity of Alberta’s natural regions. "We are calling on the government to take the necessary steps to strengthen and enhance the parks network to make it one that genuinely celebrates and protects Alberta's rich natural heritage" says Reeves.

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For more information, please contact:
Rebecca Reeves, 780-913-9375 or email rreeves [at] cpaws [dot] org

To view the Full Report, or report summary, please visit www.cpawsnab.org

Posted June 18, 2007 by Anonymous

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