Bighorn Country Proposal

The Government of Alberta is consulting Albertans on Bighorn Country, an exciting proposal for a mix of parks and public lands that would conserve important and unique natural landscapes while encouraging economic, recreation and tourism opportunities.

We are currently surveying Albertans for your input on the Bighorn Country proposal, and we invite you to share your views by completing this online survey.

But before you get started, we would like to tell you a little bit more about our proposal for this special part of our province.

Where is Bighorn Country?

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.

Recognized for its scenic beauty and natural diversity, the area includes:

  • Mountains and foothills
  • Rare plant communities
  • Sensitive wildlife.

The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and Red Deer River are located within Bighorn Country, providing 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.

Additionally, the area provides key habitat for numerous species, including those identified as rare or at risk such as grizzly bear, wolverine, harlequin duck, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.

History of Bighorn Management

Currently, the Bighorn Backcountry, which is part of the Bighorn Country proposal, is managed as six Public Land Use Zones, each of which has a unique management intent and restrictions.

Management of these Public Land Use Zones is 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).

For decades, these plans and policies, supported by responsible recreational use and management by stewardship groups, have allowed the Bighorn Backcountry to maintain its natural integrity. However, population growth, economic growth and increased recreational use have put added pressure on:

  • Habitat
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Sensitive headwaters, critical wetlands and rare plant community types.

Industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry includes:

  • Agriculture
  • Coal
  • Forestry
  • Oil and Gas

Sharing this busy landscape is a wide variety of recreation and tourism activities. Hunting and fishing are popular, as well as 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.

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

There is an opportunity to manage all of the activities in this area in a better way, so that Albertans and visitors can continue to enjoy all that it has to offer.

The Proposal

Bighorn Country as proposed includes new, expanded or amended parks, protected areas and public land use zones. This system of public lands is intended to provide a range of opportunities that suits the settings and demands of the region.

For many stakeholders, the proposal means little or no significant change to currently allowable activities. What it does offer is certainty, the ability to plan long-term and options to operate in a setting they know is being managed to preserve the values that attracted them to the area in the first place. The approach also supports continued practice of traditional uses and the exercise of Treaty rights by First Nations, subject to reasonable safety or conservation limitations.

Parks and Protected Areas:

Proposed parks and protected areas include:

  • Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park
  • David Thompson Provincial Park
  • Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park
  • North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park
  • Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area
  • Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area
  • Snow Creek Provincial Recreation Area
  • Shunda Provincial Recreation Area

We will share more details in the survey about what each of these areas offers. For now, it is just important to know that each type of area provides varying options for land uses, investment opportunities and resources for facility development.

  • Wildland parks and provincial parks focus on conservation while also offering a wide range of recreation options from remote backcountry to highway-accessible visitor services and facilities.
  • Provincial recreation areas enhance the ability to develop recreation and tourism opportunities and allocate resources for supporting public and private facilities in a natural landscape.

These proposed parks and protected areas would be managed through meaningful involvement of Indigenous Peoples and other user groups through a number of programs, services and facilities that provide exceptional visitor experiences, help diversify the local economy and celebrate the area’s rich history.

Public Land Use Zones:

The Alberta government recognizes Albertans' desire for recreational activities such as riding off-highway vehicles, backcountry activities and nature-based tourism. Public Land Use Zones are designed to accommodate and manage outdoor recreation and tourism experiences while also supporting long-term environmental protection and continuing to enable sustainable resource development.

So in addition to the proposed parks and protected areas outlined above, government is also proposing:

  • 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

Recreation management planning is vital to the Bighorn Country proposal, particularly over the long term, and public land use zones provide an enforcement mechanism to implement recreation management plans. The Government of Alberta is committed to work collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples, municipalities and local stakeholders during future planning to ensure recreation and tourism opportunities are available while still supporting our shared responsibility to have safe and enjoyable experiences.

We look forward to your feedback on this exciting proposal for our province.

Public Engagement:

Public input is encouraged and important. Send in your comments, suggestions and concerns by using the online survey link below, or by emailing or mailing in your feedback to the appropriate address below. Feedback on the Bighorn Country proposal will be collected until January 31, 2019.

This public online survey is an opportunity for all interested parties to provide valuable feedback to the Government of Alberta on the Bighorn Country proposal.

The survey outlines the proposed management intents for parks and protected areas, provincial recreation areas and Public Land Use Zones within Bighorn Country. To help provide input, you are encouraged to review the site profiles, maps and FAQs. The survey is designed to allow you to comment on as much or as little of the Bighorn Country initiative as you desire. You are not required to answer all questions—you need only complete the questions you wish to answer. Your feedback is essential as the Government of Alberta works to ensure this important area is managed for current and future generations.

Public Information Sessions

In addition to an online survey, the province is hosting a series of public information sessions. These sessions will provide an additional opportunity for Albertans to ask questions and learn about the proposal. We invite you to drop in any time during the session to continue the conversation.

Session dates and locations:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Rocky Mountain House – Drop-in Public Information Session
Lou Soppit Community Centre, Shunda Room
5404 - 48 Street
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, December 17, 2018
Rocky Mountain House – Drop-in Public Information Session
Lou Soppit Community Centre, Shunda Room
5404 - 48 Street
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, January 7, 2019
Drayton Valley – Drop-in Public Information Session
MacKenzie Conference Centre
5745 - 45 Avenue
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Red Deer – Drop-in Public Information Session
German-Canadian Club of Red Deer
38167 Range Road 280
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, January 14, 2019
Sundre – Drop-in Public Information Session
Sundre Community Centre
3, 96 - 2 Avenue NW
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Edmonton – Drop-in Public Information Session
Radisson Edmonton South
4440 Gateway Boulevard
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Stakeholder Engagement:

We are also holding a series of invitation only sessions, which are intended to continue conversations with Indigenous Peoples, industry, municipalities, local user groups and other stakeholders in the area.

Session dates and locations:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Monday, January 7, 2019
Drayton Valley - invitation only
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Nordegg - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Red Deer - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Red Deer - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Friday, January 11, 2019
Edmonton - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Please note that these are invitation only stakeholder sessions, but if you are a member of a group, organization or business which you feel we may have missed inviting, please send the following information to aep.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca:

  • name of your organization/business
  • your role in the organization/business
  • primary contact of your organization (if another person) and their role
  • an email address

By Email: aep.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca

By Mail: Alberta Environment and Parks
2nd floor, Oxbridge Place
9820-106 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2J6

What Happens After Public Engagement?

Engagement will be open between November 23, 2018 and January 31, 2019. Over this period, we will gain your input on the future of the Bighorn area. If we proceed, further consultation with stakeholders, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples and the public would be held to inform recreation and management planning – such as location and use of trails. Changes on the landscape will not be immediate as we continue to consult on the details.

*Disclaimer: We thank you for providing your input. Those who submit feedback will not be contacted individually regarding their submission.

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.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca

The Government of Alberta is consulting Albertans on Bighorn Country, an exciting proposal for a mix of parks and public lands that would conserve important and unique natural landscapes while encouraging economic, recreation and tourism opportunities.

We are currently surveying Albertans for your input on the Bighorn Country proposal, and we invite you to share your views by completing this online survey.

But before you get started, we would like to tell you a little bit more about our proposal for this special part of our province.

Where is Bighorn Country?

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.

Recognized for its scenic beauty and natural diversity, the area includes:

  • Mountains and foothills
  • Rare plant communities
  • Sensitive wildlife.

The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and Red Deer River are located within Bighorn Country, providing 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.

Additionally, the area provides key habitat for numerous species, including those identified as rare or at risk such as grizzly bear, wolverine, harlequin duck, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.

History of Bighorn Management

Currently, the Bighorn Backcountry, which is part of the Bighorn Country proposal, is managed as six Public Land Use Zones, each of which has a unique management intent and restrictions.

Management of these Public Land Use Zones is 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).

For decades, these plans and policies, supported by responsible recreational use and management by stewardship groups, have allowed the Bighorn Backcountry to maintain its natural integrity. However, population growth, economic growth and increased recreational use have put added pressure on:

  • Habitat
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Sensitive headwaters, critical wetlands and rare plant community types.

Industrial activity on public lands east of the Bighorn Backcountry includes:

  • Agriculture
  • Coal
  • Forestry
  • Oil and Gas

Sharing this busy landscape is a wide variety of recreation and tourism activities. Hunting and fishing are popular, as well as 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.

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

There is an opportunity to manage all of the activities in this area in a better way, so that Albertans and visitors can continue to enjoy all that it has to offer.

The Proposal

Bighorn Country as proposed includes new, expanded or amended parks, protected areas and public land use zones. This system of public lands is intended to provide a range of opportunities that suits the settings and demands of the region.

For many stakeholders, the proposal means little or no significant change to currently allowable activities. What it does offer is certainty, the ability to plan long-term and options to operate in a setting they know is being managed to preserve the values that attracted them to the area in the first place. The approach also supports continued practice of traditional uses and the exercise of Treaty rights by First Nations, subject to reasonable safety or conservation limitations.

Parks and Protected Areas:

Proposed parks and protected areas include:

  • Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park
  • David Thompson Provincial Park
  • Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park
  • North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park
  • Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area
  • Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area
  • Snow Creek Provincial Recreation Area
  • Shunda Provincial Recreation Area

We will share more details in the survey about what each of these areas offers. For now, it is just important to know that each type of area provides varying options for land uses, investment opportunities and resources for facility development.

  • Wildland parks and provincial parks focus on conservation while also offering a wide range of recreation options from remote backcountry to highway-accessible visitor services and facilities.
  • Provincial recreation areas enhance the ability to develop recreation and tourism opportunities and allocate resources for supporting public and private facilities in a natural landscape.

These proposed parks and protected areas would be managed through meaningful involvement of Indigenous Peoples and other user groups through a number of programs, services and facilities that provide exceptional visitor experiences, help diversify the local economy and celebrate the area’s rich history.

Public Land Use Zones:

The Alberta government recognizes Albertans' desire for recreational activities such as riding off-highway vehicles, backcountry activities and nature-based tourism. Public Land Use Zones are designed to accommodate and manage outdoor recreation and tourism experiences while also supporting long-term environmental protection and continuing to enable sustainable resource development.

So in addition to the proposed parks and protected areas outlined above, government is also proposing:

  • 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

Recreation management planning is vital to the Bighorn Country proposal, particularly over the long term, and public land use zones provide an enforcement mechanism to implement recreation management plans. The Government of Alberta is committed to work collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples, municipalities and local stakeholders during future planning to ensure recreation and tourism opportunities are available while still supporting our shared responsibility to have safe and enjoyable experiences.

We look forward to your feedback on this exciting proposal for our province.

Public Engagement:

Public input is encouraged and important. Send in your comments, suggestions and concerns by using the online survey link below, or by emailing or mailing in your feedback to the appropriate address below. Feedback on the Bighorn Country proposal will be collected until January 31, 2019.

This public online survey is an opportunity for all interested parties to provide valuable feedback to the Government of Alberta on the Bighorn Country proposal.

The survey outlines the proposed management intents for parks and protected areas, provincial recreation areas and Public Land Use Zones within Bighorn Country. To help provide input, you are encouraged to review the site profiles, maps and FAQs. The survey is designed to allow you to comment on as much or as little of the Bighorn Country initiative as you desire. You are not required to answer all questions—you need only complete the questions you wish to answer. Your feedback is essential as the Government of Alberta works to ensure this important area is managed for current and future generations.

Public Information Sessions

In addition to an online survey, the province is hosting a series of public information sessions. These sessions will provide an additional opportunity for Albertans to ask questions and learn about the proposal. We invite you to drop in any time during the session to continue the conversation.

Session dates and locations:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Rocky Mountain House – Drop-in Public Information Session
Lou Soppit Community Centre, Shunda Room
5404 - 48 Street
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, December 17, 2018
Rocky Mountain House – Drop-in Public Information Session
Lou Soppit Community Centre, Shunda Room
5404 - 48 Street
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, January 7, 2019
Drayton Valley – Drop-in Public Information Session
MacKenzie Conference Centre
5745 - 45 Avenue
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Red Deer – Drop-in Public Information Session
German-Canadian Club of Red Deer
38167 Range Road 280
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Monday, January 14, 2019
Sundre – Drop-in Public Information Session
Sundre Community Centre
3, 96 - 2 Avenue NW
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Edmonton – Drop-in Public Information Session
Radisson Edmonton South
4440 Gateway Boulevard
4:00 to 9:00 pm

Stakeholder Engagement:

We are also holding a series of invitation only sessions, which are intended to continue conversations with Indigenous Peoples, industry, municipalities, local user groups and other stakeholders in the area.

Session dates and locations:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Rocky Mountain House - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Monday, January 7, 2019
Drayton Valley - invitation only
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Nordegg - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm
6:00 to 9:00 pm

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Red Deer - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Red Deer - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Friday, January 11, 2019
Edmonton - invitation only
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 to 4:00 pm

Please note that these are invitation only stakeholder sessions, but if you are a member of a group, organization or business which you feel we may have missed inviting, please send the following information to aep.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca:

  • name of your organization/business
  • your role in the organization/business
  • primary contact of your organization (if another person) and their role
  • an email address

By Email: aep.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca

By Mail: Alberta Environment and Parks
2nd floor, Oxbridge Place
9820-106 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2J6

What Happens After Public Engagement?

Engagement will be open between November 23, 2018 and January 31, 2019. Over this period, we will gain your input on the future of the Bighorn area. If we proceed, further consultation with stakeholders, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples and the public would be held to inform recreation and management planning – such as location and use of trails. Changes on the landscape will not be immediate as we continue to consult on the details.

*Disclaimer: We thank you for providing your input. Those who submit feedback will not be contacted individually regarding their submission.

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.bighorncountry@gov.ab.ca