Announcement is out of step with government’s other actions for our environment
Today’s announcement regarding previously allocated funding for parks from the Alberta Government is welcome, say staff at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), but contradicts their decisions to delist and close other parks.
“Especially in times of such dire economic stress, support and funding for our treasured parks is welcome. However, this announcement seems at odds with previous decisions. Particularly March’s announcement to close or delist more than a third of our parks, and June’s rescindment of the coal policy opening up more than 53,000 square kilometres of mountains and foothills to coal mining,” says Hilary Young, senior Alberta program manager at Y2Y.
“The removal of a park’s designation opens it up to ‘alternative management approaches’ according to the government, including possibly reverting them to public lands and opening them to resource extraction,” she says.
Parks are an important part of Alberta’s history — and future
Y2Y agrees that parks and special areas are a key part of our economy, supporting opportunities and jobs in tourism, hospitality and services and as an important part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.
Parks are also important for biodiversity and ecological reasons and much needed to support wildlife. As use this summer has shown, demand for camping and recreation exceeds availability. More parks are needed as visitation and population continue to grow.
Today’s announcement also reaffirms the Province’s commitment to strengthening ties with non-profits and conservation societies to help maintain and protect our parks and Crown land.
“We hope Y2Y, partners and others who have long worked in these areas will have an opportunity to help advance Alberta Environment and Parks’ goals of environmental and ecosystem health and integrity, sustainable economic development and public well-being,” says Young.
While the tax dollars will improve trails and pathways, as well as upgrade day-use areas and campgrounds across Alberta, great visitor experiences start with funding, staffing and enforcement — not closures, delisting or ending parks services.
“We’re happy to hear the Premier and his government say they love our parks — their actions need to reflect this. Let’s hope we can all work together to protect and enhance the experience and economic value of them for generations to come,” says Young.
“People are hungry for parks, and that is only projected to grow in the future.”
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Header photo: Kelly Zenkewich