Nature Canada
Bighorn Sheep by Tim Hopwood

Five reasons to protect Bighorn Country!

The Alberta provincial government is currently asking Canadians for their comments on protecting Bighorn Country. The area is the missing piece of parkland that would connect Jasper and Banff National Park and a critical piece of habitat in the eastern Rocky Mountains.

The provincial government has just begun it’s Bighorn Public Consultation. Permanently protecting the area is a really important step, but Canadians need to tell the government that conservation is important – otherwise, it may not happen. Read on to learn why we need to protect the Bighorn.

1. Protection for iconic Canadian wildlife

It goes without saying – Bighorn Country is big country for Bighorn Sheep. Who else lives there? Important and at-risk species including Grizzly Bears, Wolverines, Mountain Goats, Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout.

These animals need large ranges of mountain territory to survive amidst increasing development and human pressure. The protected areas in Bighorn are adjacent to Jasper and Banff National Parks, securing more uninterrupted habitat for these iconic species.

 

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2. Protect our drinking water

Wildlife isn’t the only group relying on natural resources in the Bighorn. The area is the source to both the North Saskatchewan and Red Deer rivers, which provide drinking water to more than 1.5 million Canadians across the western provinces, including the city of Edmonton.

 

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3. Protection for outdoor adventure

Bighorn is a treasure for people who love to get outside – whether it’s hiking, skiing, paddling, fishing, horseback riding, hunting or rock and ice climbing. Many groups and organizations that care about getting out into nature have supported the park proposal, including the Alberta Hiking Association and the Alpine Club of Canada.

The plan includes protecting access to the backcountry, investing in front-country facilities to manage camping and day hiking and preserving Public Land Use Zones east of the Bighorn for quads and snowmobiles.

 

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4. Encourage sustainable tourism

The plan for Bighorn includes establishing eight new Alberta parks and recreation areas – ensuring that the protected area has something for everyone. New frontcountry facilities will help manage increasing tourism and keep the backcountry pristine.

The provincial government has committed funding to refurbish 240 existing campsites and the creation of more than 150 new campsites. That will include money for parking lots, trails and extended tourism leases to help manage visitors to the Alberta camping area.

 

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5. Helps Canada meet 2020 promises to protect nature

Under the UN Aichi biodiversity targets, Canada has committed to protecting 17 per cent of land and freshwater by 2020. The good news is, protecting Bighorn Country (approximately 4000 square kilometres of new park) will count towards that goal.

 

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So what can you do to help?

What can you do? Send a Bighorn letter of support to Premier Notley and the Bighorn Consultation Group in support of the plan to protect Bighorn Country.

The government is also looking for responses to a detailed survey, which will take 15-20 minutes to complete. CPAWS Alberta has provided a “quick comment” survey guide.

Thanks for using your voice to protect nature!

Nature Canada would like to give special thanks to CPAWS Alberta, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and Alberta Wilderness Association for their work on this campaign.

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