Alberta Forestry and Parks has announced a significant expansion of its provincial parks system, introducing two new parks and adding over 1,400 hectares to its existing network.
This development marks a substantial increase in the land dedicated to Alberta’s provincial parks, enhancing the province’s outdoor recreation offerings.
The newly established Kleskun Hills Provincial Park and La Biche Provincial Recreation Area are central to this expansion.
These parks, formed from land previously held privately, are set to provide Albertans with increased opportunities for outdoor exploration and enjoyment. Kleskun Hills will encompass more than 1,000 hectares of protected land, while La Biche will add over 65 hectares.
Todd Loewen, minister of Forestry and Parks, emphasized the significance of this expansion. The expansion of the provincial parks system creates opportunities for Albertans to visit and appreciate some of Alberta’s most spectacular landscapes,” Loewen said. He stressed that these changes would enhance access to outdoor spaces without impacting recreational use.
The initiative also includes amendments to existing park boundaries. This involves expanding three current parks and redesignating twelve provincial recreation areas as public lands. These areas, mostly inactive for decades, will now be managed under the Public Lands Act, ensuring continued public access and recreational use.
Bob Marshall, reeve of the County of Grande Prairie, highlighted the cultural importance of Kleskun Hills. “With its Indigenous cultural significance, it is a fitting tribute that Kleskun Hills be designated as a provincial park,” Marshall said. He invited visitors to explore the unique ecosystem and the region’s offerings.
The expansion plan includes adding land to several existing parks. Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park in the capital region will see an addition of 238 hectares, Bleriot Ferry Provincial Recreation Area will gain 2.9 hectares, and Peaceful Valley Provincial Recreation Area in the central region will expand by 37 hectares. Additionally, a boundary correction for Egg Island Ecological Reserve is planned, which will not alter its size or function.
The redesignation of ten sites around Alberta as public lands is a key part of this expansion. This move will ensure these areas remain accessible for public use and continue to support various recreational activities. Fort Vermillion Provincial Recreation Area, now designated as public land, will be managed by Mackenzie County.
Josh Knelsen, reeve of Mackenzie County, expressed enthusiasm about the government’s decision. This announcement has been in the works for years, so we are thrilled that the government has made this designation change happen,” Knelsen said. He looks forward to developing a northern riverside destination for Albertans and visitors.
The sites being redesignated as public lands were previously decommissioned due to low visitation or environmental damage. These include Chisholm, Fir Creek, North Ram River, Crane Meadows, Eyrie Gap, Gunn, Little Smoky, Muriel Lake, Newbrook, and Raven Provincial Recreation Areas.
This expansion and redesignation effort by Alberta Forestry and Parks is a strategic move to bolster the province’s outdoor recreation industry. By increasing the land area and diversity of the parks system, Alberta is set to offer more robust and varied outdoor experiences to residents and tourists alike. This initiative not only preserves natural landscapes and cultural heritage but also contributes to the economic and recreational vitality of the region.