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Fifteen Years Of The Ghost-Waiparous Access Plan - Another ABSRD Failure

Alberta Wilderness Association

News Release: May 4, 2005

Fifteen years of public demand for a Ghost-Waiparous Access Management process have finally produced a draft Access Management Plan which offers little more than a free-for-all for motorized recreationists. Opponents of the proposals, including local residents, watershed organizations, tourism operators and environmental groups, are fed up that, once again interests of motorized recreationists have been allowed to steamroller all other concerns.

"It appears that the motorized recreation groups have had the ear of the government throughout the whole process," says Nigel Douglas, Alberta Wilderness Association Conservation Specialist.

At a closed meeting of invited stakeholders on April 9, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) unveiled a map laying out the proposed network of extensive ATV, motorbike, 4x4 and snowmobile trails. Although it was made clear initially that this was an internal document, not for public use, within four days, motorized recreationists groups were presenting it to their members (it was later mailed out to all other stakeholders).

"This is a plan for motorized users and nobody else," says Heinz Unger, Chair of the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society. "Other stakeholders such as hikers have been ignored. The natural values have been ignored. Wildlife has been ignored, and our vital water resources have been ignored."

Some trails lead right up to protected area boundaries, producing a network of designated trails which is huge and virtually unenforceable, particularly with current levels of enforcement staff. "They are even proposing access to new areas which have never been accessed before," points out one local resident and user of the area. "Some of these are areas of cultural and heritage value, where we were specifically promised that there would be no new access."

An Access Management Plan which gives priority to motorized access over all other considerations does nothing to serve the interests of the majority of Albertans who do not use these machines. The 2004 Alberta Recreation Survey found that 9.4% of Albertans use OHVs. This plan seems to serve the interests of this 9.4%, while ignoring the other 90.6%.

A random telephone survey carried out by SRD in 2003 in the Calgary region found that over 70% of the respondents thought that 'certain recreational activities had a negative impact on the recreational experience of other users of the area.' Motorbikes, quads, jeeps & trucks and large parties were named as causing the greatest impacts on others. Of the respondents, 28% used the Ghost Waiparous for hiking, compared with 24% for OHV activity.

For more information, contact:

Nigel Douglas, AWA Conservation Specialist: (403) 283 2025
Heinz Unger, Ghost Watershed Alliance Society: (403) 851 7632

Posted May 4, 2005 by russ

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