Bighorn Country Proposal

The Government of Alberta consulted with Albertans on the Bighorn Country proposal from November 23, 2018 to February 15, 2019. The proposal was to create a mix of parks and public lands that would conserve important natural landscapes while encouraging economic, recreation and tourism opportunities.

Bighorn Country includes public lands from the boundary of Banff National Park eastward towards Drayton Valley. It includes Clearwater County, most of Brazeau County and the current Bighorn Backcountry management area.

Population growth, economic growth and increased recreational use have put pressure on habitat, landscape connectivity, sensitive headwaters, critical wetlands and rare plant community types. The Bighorn Country proposal is an opportunity to manage the land in a better way so all Albertans can continue to enjoy all it has to offer.

Further consultation on recreation and land management planning will be initiated if the proposal proceeds.

Bighorn Country Proposal - Frequently Asked Questions

About the Proposal

The Bighorn Country proposal would expand, amend or create four parks, four recreation areas and two public land use zones to better support:

  • recreation activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing
  • industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry including agriculture, coal, forestry, oil and gas

For most users, the proposal means little or no change to the activities currently allowed in the area. Trails will not be closed, random camping will still be allowed, industrial development will continue and Indigenous traditional practices will be supported.

The proposal does offer certainty and the ability to plan long-term to provide more opportunity and better protection. Review the maps and site profiles for more information on the management intent for these areas.

Provincial and wildland parks would focus on conservation while also offering a range of recreation options from remote backcountry to highway accessible visitor services and facilities:

  • Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park
  • David Thompson Provincial Park
  • Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park
  • North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park

Provincial recreation areas would enhance the ability to develop recreation and tourism opportunities and allocate resources for supporting public and private facilities in a natural landscape:

  • Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area
  • Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area
  • Snow Creek Provincial Recreation Area
  • Shunda Provincial Recreation Area

Public Land Use Zones would be designed to accommodate and manage outdoor recreation and tourism experiences, while also supporting long-term environmental protection and sustainable resource development. The proposal includes:

  • small adjustments to the boundaries of the existing Kiska/Willson Public Land Use Zone
  • a new West Country Public Land Use Zone, east of the current Bighorn Backcountry management area



Public Engagement

Thank you for participating in this phase of engagement on the Bighorn Country Proposal. Your responses will help inform the future of the Bighorn Country proposal.

Online Survey

An online survey was conducted to gather input about the proposal from all interested parties.

CLOSED: The survey has concluded.

Telephone Town Halls

Four telephone town halls were held to provide information, answer questions and gather feedback on the Bighorn Country proposal.

CLOSED: Telephone town halls have concluded.

Information Sessions

Six public information sessions were held in Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Red Deer and Sundre. Participants had the opportunity to talk to program staff, view maps of the region and submit feedback at 30 information stations.

CLOSED: Information sessions have concluded.

Next Steps

Alberta Environment and Parks will review public input to inform the future of the Bighorn Country proposal. Further consultation on recreation and land management planning, such as trail use and location, will be completed if we proceed.

About Bighorn Country

Bighorn Country is recognized for its scenic beauty and natural diversity. The area includes mountains, foothills, rare plant communities and sensitive wildlife.

The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and Red Deer River provide drinking water to over one million Albertans in downstream communities, as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while also providing natural mitigation for flood and drought conditions.

These lands also have cultural and historic significance for Indigenous Peoples.

The area is also key habitat for numerous rare or at-risk species, including grizzly bear, wolverine, harlequin duck, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.

Industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry include agriculture, coal, forestry, oil and gas.

Recreation and tourism activities include hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.

Many of these industrial and recreational activities require access via roads and trails, which also affect the landscape.

The area is currently managed by six Public Land Use Zones that are informed by various policies and plans:

  • The Eastern Slopes Policy (1984)
  • The Coal Development Policy for Alberta (1976)
  • The Bighorn Backcountry Access Management Plan (2002)
  • The R11 Forest Management Plan (2007)

The Bighorn Country proposal follows recommendations from the Regional Advisory Council on conservation and recreation designations to better support recreation and tourism opportunities.

Media Inquiries


Privacy Statement
Information you provide to Alberta Environment and Parks is collected under the authority of Section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act and is managed in accordance with Part 2 of the FOIP Act. The personal information collected will be used to inform development of the proposed Bighorn Country. Personal information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose than stated, without written consent or unless required to do so by law. Should you wish to have your personal information removed, corrected or have any concerns pertaining to the proposed Bighorn Country consultation, please contact AEP.Info-Centre@gov.ab.ca.

The Government of Alberta consulted with Albertans on the Bighorn Country proposal from November 23, 2018 to February 15, 2019. The proposal was to create a mix of parks and public lands that would conserve important natural landscapes while encouraging economic, recreation and tourism opportunities.

Bighorn Country includes public lands from the boundary of Banff National Park eastward towards Drayton Valley. It includes Clearwater County, most of Brazeau County and the current Bighorn Backcountry management area.

Population growth, economic growth and increased recreational use have put pressure on habitat, landscape connectivity, sensitive headwaters, critical wetlands and rare plant community types. The Bighorn Country proposal is an opportunity to manage the land in a better way so all Albertans can continue to enjoy all it has to offer.

Further consultation on recreation and land management planning will be initiated if the proposal proceeds.

Bighorn Country Proposal - Frequently Asked Questions

About the Proposal

The Bighorn Country proposal would expand, amend or create four parks, four recreation areas and two public land use zones to better support:

  • recreation activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing
  • industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry including agriculture, coal, forestry, oil and gas

For most users, the proposal means little or no change to the activities currently allowed in the area. Trails will not be closed, random camping will still be allowed, industrial development will continue and Indigenous traditional practices will be supported.

The proposal does offer certainty and the ability to plan long-term to provide more opportunity and better protection. Review the maps and site profiles for more information on the management intent for these areas.

Provincial and wildland parks would focus on conservation while also offering a range of recreation options from remote backcountry to highway accessible visitor services and facilities:

  • Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park
  • David Thompson Provincial Park
  • Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park
  • North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park

Provincial recreation areas would enhance the ability to develop recreation and tourism opportunities and allocate resources for supporting public and private facilities in a natural landscape:

  • Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area
  • Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area
  • Snow Creek Provincial Recreation Area
  • Shunda Provincial Recreation Area

Public Land Use Zones would be designed to accommodate and manage outdoor recreation and tourism experiences, while also supporting long-term environmental protection and sustainable resource development. The proposal includes:

  • small adjustments to the boundaries of the existing Kiska/Willson Public Land Use Zone
  • a new West Country Public Land Use Zone, east of the current Bighorn Backcountry management area



Public Engagement

Thank you for participating in this phase of engagement on the Bighorn Country Proposal. Your responses will help inform the future of the Bighorn Country proposal.

Online Survey

An online survey was conducted to gather input about the proposal from all interested parties.

CLOSED: The survey has concluded.

Telephone Town Halls

Four telephone town halls were held to provide information, answer questions and gather feedback on the Bighorn Country proposal.

CLOSED: Telephone town halls have concluded.

Information Sessions

Six public information sessions were held in Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Red Deer and Sundre. Participants had the opportunity to talk to program staff, view maps of the region and submit feedback at 30 information stations.

CLOSED: Information sessions have concluded.

Next Steps

Alberta Environment and Parks will review public input to inform the future of the Bighorn Country proposal. Further consultation on recreation and land management planning, such as trail use and location, will be completed if we proceed.

About Bighorn Country

Bighorn Country is recognized for its scenic beauty and natural diversity. The area includes mountains, foothills, rare plant communities and sensitive wildlife.

The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and Red Deer River provide drinking water to over one million Albertans in downstream communities, as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while also providing natural mitigation for flood and drought conditions.

These lands also have cultural and historic significance for Indigenous Peoples.

The area is also key habitat for numerous rare or at-risk species, including grizzly bear, wolverine, harlequin duck, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.

Industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry include agriculture, coal, forestry, oil and gas.

Recreation and tourism activities include hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.

Many of these industrial and recreational activities require access via roads and trails, which also affect the landscape.

The area is currently managed by six Public Land Use Zones that are informed by various policies and plans:

  • The Eastern Slopes Policy (1984)
  • The Coal Development Policy for Alberta (1976)
  • The Bighorn Backcountry Access Management Plan (2002)
  • The R11 Forest Management Plan (2007)

The Bighorn Country proposal follows recommendations from the Regional Advisory Council on conservation and recreation designations to better support recreation and tourism opportunities.

Media Inquiries


Privacy Statement
Information you provide to Alberta Environment and Parks is collected under the authority of Section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act and is managed in accordance with Part 2 of the FOIP Act. The personal information collected will be used to inform development of the proposed Bighorn Country. Personal information will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose than stated, without written consent or unless required to do so by law. Should you wish to have your personal information removed, corrected or have any concerns pertaining to the proposed Bighorn Country consultation, please contact AEP.Info-Centre@gov.ab.ca.