Province seeking input on use of public lands

By MorinvilleNews.com staff

Edmonton – With approximately 60 per cent of Alberta being made up of public lands, there is no limit on the amount of space available to Albertans for recreational purposes. However Albertans have a limited time to offer their input into how those lands are managed.

After 60 years, the province is looking to update regulations to its Public Lands Act, and is asking Albertans to complete a survey of 25 questions on land management, compliance and enforcement and the appeals and dispute resolution process.

Sustainable Resource Development says changes to the Public Lands Act will allow the government to better manage general access to vacant public land, allow for stronger compliance and enforcement, and provide for appeals to ensure fairness and consistency in decision-making.

The proposed changes will grant the province a greater ability to deal with offenders who abuse public land and allow the temporary closure of an area to prevent loss or damage to public land from off-highway vehicle riders who drive through sensitive wet areas.

Under the proposed changes, off highway vehicle users would still be able to ride on trails without approval, but may require a permit for off trail riding or to hold a rally on public lands.

Changes to the Public Land act made in April of this year brought the act into line with the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. One of the major changes to the act was an increase in the maximum fine for companies convicted of damaging public lands, which rose from $5,000 to $1 million. The maximum fine for individuals is $100,000.

Public consultation began Aug. 5 and continues until Sept. 17. The 25-question survey can be completed online at www.srd.alberta.ca/Newsroom/SRDSurveys/Default.aspx.

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