Pole Haven Community Pasture Proposed Recreation Plan

This is the Proposal that the PLA has put together and send to Edmonton with our MLA to put forward as a Responsible Recreation Management Plan to be used in the Pole Haven Community Pasture in SW Alberta as well as a template for other Public Lands use.

 

Public Land Alliance

Cardston, Alberta

 

Proposed Sustainable Recreation Management Plan for Pole Haven Community Pasture.

Held by Pole Haven Grazing association of Mountain View Alberta under Grazing

Lease #33957.

 

The following Individuals have provided input for this proposal and welcome all those with progressive ideas regarding the content of this document. This document is being provided under the direction of local MLA Mr. Grant Hunter.

Directors of Public Land Alliance

Rod Shaw, Don Jensen, Justin Shaw, Rod Walburger, Tobin Wood, Shawn Pitcher

Cardston County Councilors provided input on PLA proposals.

Kevin Quinton, Randy Bullock

 

Goals of proposal.

For the past 2 years the citizens of the province of Alberta have been denied access other than foot traffic for 10,500 acres of grazing land held by a local grazing association. This area has been used for all types of recreation for the last 100 years and has been a major part of many people lives in the Province. There appears to be no plan in place to allow for responsible recreation on this important piece of public land and as a result the PLA has been asked to put forward a workable document for use in bringing this land back to the public where it rightfully belongs. It has never been the intention of the PLA to displace the grazing association and with the cooperation of all parties we are convinced it can effectively meet the needs of their association and our supporters. According to documents obtained through FOIP by PLA it is clear that the local grazing association is responsible for this ban on the land for the past 2 years, and for the past 6 months the PLA and others have made every effort to reach out and provide both monetary and other assistance in opening up the area for public use. We intend to address the concerns of the grazing association and look forward to their input on the “PLAN”.

 

About the Public Land Alliance

PLA is a Southern Alberta based non profit entity that is run by volunteers. Our goal is to make sure that as citizens of this Province we do everything possible to fight for the rights of individuals to use Public Lands for all types of responsible recreation. Activities would include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, OHV use , camping, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, as well as all other outdoor activities that respect the land and get people outdoors. We have aligned ourselves with other organizations across the province and will continue to work on behalf of those with similar ideals. We believe by uniting for a common cause we can affect the outcome of elections throughout the area to protect our rights as individuals. PLA welcomes all constructive comments and welcomes those able to volunteer and help in these most important efforts. We are currently working on this project as well as providing solutions to allow boats back on Waterton Lake.

 

Factors to consider.

In April of 2016 the Province released a Recreations Management Plan for Grazing Lease 33957.

Specifically

To provide reasonable non-commercial recreational access to public lands held under Grazing Lease 33957.To establish terms and conditions under which the recreational access may occur.

To manage recreational access in a manner that facilitates the recovery of unhealthy areas, and maintains or improves range health on the remainder of the lease.

Notes: As we considered the terms “reasonable access” to the land it appears that the needs of seniors, handicapped individuals , and others not able to enjoy the outdoors other than on foot have been ignored by the plan. It is also apparent that the heritage and history of those using this land in the past has been ignored while catering only to a small group of ranchers.

 

The plan as outline by the Province and under the direction of the Grazing Association bans all motorized access, camping and camp fires, mountain biking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. (interesting to note that the grazing association members can use the area for these activities)

 

We agree that the land must be respected and through proper education and programs this land can be enhanced and enjoyed by all.

 

The Plan:

 

Access and Parking

Access to be granted through Web Registration or self registration at the gate.

Access land to provide a staging area for parking either through private purchase, current road allowances already in place, or land swap for road allowance currently grazed by the association. There are 256 acres of road allowances in the grazing associations lease area. Our hope would be to have access to 3 acres of the 10,500 acres of public land.

 

Approach local governments for assistance in locating, building, and maintaining access to Pole Haven.

 

Enforcement:

 

The key component of enforcement would be education. As long as people understand the rules and are educated about the importance of abiding by the rules we can maintain control.

 

Fish and Wildlife officers have confirmed they are obligated to investigate any and all abuse/crime in the area provided conditions are clear and concise.

RCMP can also assist in these efforts as well. They would rely primarily on reports from the public. Alberta has hired additional officers and we currently have 2 in this area.

 

Any user of Public Lands has a responsibility/obligation to report crime/abuse. This process can be self regulated. Report-A-Poacher has new mobile technology to report issues.

 

PLA is prepared to hire seasonal hosts/volunteers to monitor traffic, educate the public, and provide a positive experience for all those using the area.

 

Enforcement can be minimized by providing current and accurate signage, social and other media update on conditions ie: fire bans, trail closure for water, hunting regulations, and others that would protect the area during times of unusual weather etc. Our intent is to educate to avoid confrontation.

 

Designated Trail Systems.

 

Under the direction of Alberta Environment and the Grazing Associating we would work on a trail system that addresses the variable use by horses, hikers, bikers, OHV users and others. There are already many established trails in the Community Pasture and proper signage and education will provide the framework for a workable solution that will enhance the outdoor experience and prevent unnecessary damage to the environment.

The area is already mapped including fences, main, and secondary trails.

 

Much of the work would be done by volunteers. This program has been very successful in other areas of the province and by all indication we have hundreds of people willing to invest time and money to maintain and upgrade the current infrastructure.

After input from the public we would consider a modest maintenance fee to allow for the purchase of culverts, gravel, equipment fees, and the cost to provide a personal attendant at the main entrance.

 

We would suggest a committee specifically for a trail system. Include different agencies involved as well as public volunteers.

 

Education

Get involved with the “We Love our Trails” campaign currently being implemented by one of our associated groups.

Utilize the power of social media and advertising.

Designated areas for different activities that are of concern to the grazing association.

 

The Pole Haven area offers more than just recreation uses.

Hunting as a food source for many families.

Firewood for heating many homes in the area.

 

Prepared to work with local scouting organizations, Fish and Game Associations, Hunter Education programs, Off Highway Vehicle associations, Youth groups using the area, outdoor education, schools, biking clubs, hiking clubs, Back Country camping groups , local governments, Blood Tribe Chief and Council , and all others that would benefit from the outdoor experience. Oldman Watershed Committee.

Many families have used the area for Christmas tree cutting which enhances the grazing potential.

 

Work towards keeping the gates unlocked at all times. The Public Lands Act does not allow blocking and locking access to pubic lands that are accessed by a road allowance. The grazing association was notified of this last November and asked to unlock the gates.

 

Currently if there is an emergency requiring medical or fire fighting efforts the roads into the area are gated a blocked off. Make sure these important services are always provided access.

 

Liability

The grazing association has indicated they are responsible for all environmental damage done in Pole Haven by recreationalists. According to their contract they have not posted a bond nor have they been required to carry any liability insurance. It does not state anything about environmental damage by recreation users. They also maintain that they have been threatened by government officials that they will lose their lease if they do not do exactly what they are told regardless of what the contract says. The grazing association has been charged by the government with managing lands that are providing them with benefits not enjoyed by other ranchers.

 

The solution.

Every user will be required to sign an online waiver acknowledging the dangers of using public lands and accept responsibility for so doing. If this is not acceptable then the grazing association(for their members) and PLA(for their members) should be required to post a bond and provide liability insurance to insure safe and responsible use of the land by all involved.

 

 

Conclusion:

The PLA is committed to see that we will once again be able to use our public lands. Pole Haven Community Pasture is an integral part of our community and in a time when we all need to get outdoors it is hard to comprehend that more and more land is being tied up by special interest groups with the support of our elected officials. We invite the local grazing association to provide input to this plan and be involved in restoring this area for both grazing and recreation.

We have reached out to our Provincial Government more specifically Minister Shannon Phillips and have invited their input on a number of occasions. We invite everyone to get involved in protecting our rights to use our lands as generations have . Please engage as we have done with your local politicians to facilitate change to a broken system. We welcome your comments and have a commitment from MLA Mr. Grant Hunter of the UPC party to get our concerns to Edmonton in the coming weeks. The grazing association has there annual meeting in April to vote on recommendations that we have been working on for the past 6 months. Take the time to contact these members and voice your opinion. We invite all to remain both positive and civil in their approach and work together to reign in beauorcrates that make decisions affecting the quality of life for many of us. As the citizens of this Province we should expect every level of government to enact regulations and processes to ensure that public resources are managed in a fair, transparent, and unbiased manner. For further information and to make comments please visit our website at www.publiclandalliance.org.

Respectfully

 

Public Land Alliance

www.publiclandalliance.org

 

 

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