Outdoor Recreation Council of Alberta Statement about Land Use in the Highwood-Cataract area

On October 11, ORCA sent a statement to The Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and  The Honourable Oniel Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry regarding the land use in the Highwood-Cataract area. The full statement is below.

October 11, 2017

The Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta

The Honourable Oniel Carlier,  Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Government of Alberta

Dear Ministers:

Re: Outdoor Recreation Council of Alberta Statement about Land Use in the Highwood-Cataract area

Logging in the Highwood-Cataract area of Kananaskis Country is not new. The area has seen forest harvesting for over 100 years. Nevertheless, annual plans to harvest new areas are met with opposition from the public who use the area for recreation, and from environmentalists.
This opposition is likely to intensify with each harvest cycle.

While opposition to individual annual harvest plans may focus on visual impacts, or potential impact on wildlife or fish habitat, the real problem in our view is the lack of an integratedmanagement plan for the area that gives full consideration to interests of other users including
the “quiet recreation” community.

There is no outdoor recreation plan for the area. The Etherington-Cataract area contains a network of designated snowmobile trails. A portion of the Great Divide Trail traverses a corner of the area. Gillean Daffern’s “Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, 4th edition, Volume 5” documents 200 individual trails in the area. Yet, only a few of the non-motorized trails is designated as official. Establishing a more inclusive plan in our view would allow for a muchbroader engagement of the quiet recreation community, which constitutes a significant constituency in Alberta, and enhance the tourism potential of this sub-region of Kananaskis Country.

In the absence of a recreation plan for the Highwood-Cataract area, the resource and extractive interests will understandably pursue their endeavours without due consideration of the impact on outdoor recreation, aesthetics or value for tourism. And decisions made without thoughtful
public consultation will be met with vocal opposition by those people who cherish the recreational value of this part of Kananaskis Country.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of Alberta thus recommends that the Government of Alberta take the following actions to address this gap:

  1. Provide public outdoor recreation with the same legal and regulatory status as for-profit industries such as forestry, oil and gas, and grazing on public land.
  2. Develop a comprehensive recreation and tourism plan for the Highwood-Cataract subregion of Kananaskis Country.

We thank you for your consideration, and can be available for discussions with your officials or yourselves.

With best regards

Douglas Edward Allen
Interim Chair
Outdoor Recreation Council of Alberta

c.c. Andre Corbould, Deputy Minister, Environment and Parks
Bev Yee, Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Forestry
Bruce Mayer, Assistant Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Forestry

Link to PDF document

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