Busenius, UNSRB, Alberta (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Busenius, UNSRB, Alberta (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

NCC thanks the Government of Alberta for investing in nature

Busenius Property, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Busenius Property, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is celebrating the Government of Alberta’s plan to conserve 4,000 km2 along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

On November 23, Shannon Phillips, Minister of the Environment and Parks, and Premier Rachel Notley officially proposed creating the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park. This area includes new and expanded provincial parks and protected areas.

The proposal includes a $40-million investment over five years and would create Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park, David Thompson Provincial Park, North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park and Ya-Ha-Tinda Provincial Park.

Canada’s Rocky Mountains represent the southernmost extent of true wilderness remaining in North America. Yet even this is a wilderness divided. The division comes as a result of ever-increasing residential and industrial development that slices through this mountainous landscape. As a result, wildlife corridors are severed and crucial habitat for many species is fragmented, including wide-ranging carnivores such as grizzly bear and gray wolf.

Located between Banff and Jasper national parks, Bighorn Country forms the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan and Red Deer rivers. The new land designations in this area would better protect these headwaters and the life they sustain, support continued traditional land-use by Indigenous Peoples, and provide outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism opportunities, such as camping, hiking, fishing and mountain biking.

Premier Notley compared the idea of establishing the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park to the creation of Kananaskis County.

“Forty years ago, Premier Peter Lougheed created Kananaskis Country due to increased pressures on the eastern slopes,” said Premier Notley. “Now, Kananaskis provides amazing experiences and opportunities, showing that investments in Alberta today mean our children and grandchildren will have wild spaces to enjoy in the future. We are asking all Albertans to help us create a place for everyone.”

This investment will protect some of the province’s most important natural spaces while providing Canadians with safe, responsible ways of connecting to the outdoors.

The creation of these new parks will increase the overall protected area in Alberta from 14.6 per cent to 15.2 per cent, which will contribute to Canada’s Target 1 objective to conserve at least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas and inland waters by 2020.

Learn more in the official news release here.

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