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darkside


Dec 20, 2012, 12:37 AM
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Rockies access - final opportunity
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URGENT AND TIME SENSITIVE

It's not often you hear of significant threats to access in Alberta but there are problems in the making.

I realize you guys are not neccesarily in Alberta but if you've been to the Rockies, or ever plan on coming then this does concern you. The government ought to take notice of your visiting dollar so please read on.

First of all a quick background. The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan is part of the Alberta governments efforts to establish a system of land use frameworks to determine how lands are managed. A grand ideal but what it means is that a system is being put in place right now, that will dictate how land is administered in the future. Any mistakes now will likely not be easily corrected later.

What this means for climbers is that land use designations could endanger access to climbing areas or even camping, in the future. Not only climbing is endangered but also any low impact, soft tread, or other recreational activity. That includes but is not limited to ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, equestrian, camping, and many other activities.

The Climbers Access Society of Alberta (CASA) has been asking people to public meetings and participate in a survey over the last month. We are now into the last couple of days. The main thrust is to promote the principle that motorized access corridors are needed to reach recreational opportunities, including opportunities near, through, or in, conservation areas.

If you were unaware of this, we need you to take action NOW. If you have already completed the survey, thank you - please encourage others to follow your lead. Please forward this message to others. PLEASE please PLEASE complete the survey. Using the CASA guidelines it should take anything from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how quick you are at cut and pasting. Remember, it's not required to complete all the questions in the survey, and CASA has identified the important questions and answers for you.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS 21-Dec-2012.

The link to the online survey version is here
http://www.banister.ab.ca/SSRPworkbookphase2/
The link to the CASA website with more information is here
http://www.climbersaccess.ab.ca/...id=121&Itemid=38


darkside


Dec 20, 2012, 12:39 AM
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Re: [darkside] Rockies access - final opportunity [In reply to]
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From the CASA website -

Climbing access threatened on the Eastern Slopes, including the Ghost River
The Government of Alberta has entered a new phase of land use planning for Southern Alberta, including the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

It appears they are proposing that the Ghost River Valley, with all of its world class ice and rock climbs, be designated a "primitive recreation" zone. This means that motorized access to ice and rock climbing staging areas and to random camping locations will NOT BE allowed. Many other ice, rock and mountain climbing areas along the Eastern Slopes will also be impacted

The Climbers Access Society of Alberta (CASA) has been working hard for the last several years to maintain and re-instate motorized access into the Ghost. Currently, vehicular access is allowed as far as the Banff Park boundary in the south (Wicked Wanda area) and Junction 39 in the north (first big river crossing on the way to GBU/House of Sky) on a year-round basis, and to Claw Creek (Fang and Fist) from December 1 to March 31 annually. It is looking like all of that could be lost if the advisory group's recommendations are implemented. It is possible that nobody will be able to drive beyond the base of the Big Hill.

Climbers need to speak up about this if you want to maintain vehicle access into the Ghost and other important climbing areas along the Eastern Slopes.

There is a survey that you can fill out and submit by December 21. It is a huge survey (more than 200 questions!), so CASA has provided a summary of the questions you can answer in order to help maintain access to the Ghost River and other areas along the Eastern Slopes.

It appears that the government and their advisory committee are trying to stop land abuse by a small number of recreational off-highway vehicle users. Climbers are being lumped in with these users, and we need to distinguish ourselves to maintain our access. We need to stress to the government that our priority is having reasonable vehicular access to our climbs, and we are not out to tear up the land.

The survey can be found at http://www.banister.ab.ca/SSRPworkbookphase2/


darkside


Dec 20, 2012, 12:42 AM
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Re: [darkside] Rockies access - final opportunity [In reply to]
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To make it easier than having to go looking for answers - here they are....



The questions that CASA has highlighted as being important and answers we suggest are as follows:

Section 1: Regional Vision and Strategic Land-use Principles

Question 1 - How strongly do you agree with the proposed vision for the South Saskatchewan Region?

Answer: SOMEWHAT DISAGREE

Question 2 - In describing a vision for the region, the RAC has tried to achieve a balance among economic, environmental and social values. What do you think about the amount of emphasis given to each of these values in the proposed vision?

Answer: Social: STRONGLY DISAGREE

Question 3 – How would you improve the content of the proposed vision for the region?

The SSRP needs to acknowledge that many Albertans participate in “drive from point A to staging area B to do soft tread activity C” recreation. There is inadequate allowance for vehicular access to soft tread wilderness recreation in the vision statement. Hikers, mountain bikers, rock and ice climbers, scramblers, snow walkers / shoers, skiers, naturalists, hunters, fishers, random campers and many other recreationalists have a vested interest in a healthy and sustainable environment but do not want to be effectively barred from it by blanket restrictions (such as by areas designated "no vehicular access").

Question 5 – Share additional comments regarding RAC's strategic land use principles:

The guiding principles do not speak adequately to Albertans' right to sustainable recreation and recreational access on Alberta public lands. The government must provide opportunities and reasonable vehicular access to healthy soft tread activities. Soft tread recreation is popular for Alberta residents and sustainable tourism operators, and it should be a guiding principle in the SSRP.

Section 2: Healthy Economy

Question 11 – Share additional comments regarding the RAC's advice on forestry:

Alberta Parks and Tourism should work with the forest industry to develop opportunities to create and or manage trails and recreational access corridors that would speak to shared use and sustainable usage.

Question 12, 3 - Identify and develop new areas capable of becoming iconic tourism destinations. Areas that should be considered include the Castle, Crowsnest Pass, Kananaskis and the portion of the Canadian Badlands in the region. Develop and manage the Castle and Crowsnest Pass as iconic nature-based tourism destinations. Effectively manage the Castle without necessarily designating it as a provincial park.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 12, 4 - Develop a better understanding of the recreation and tourism opportunities on private lands as well as its associated challenges and barriers.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 13 – Share additional comments regarding the RAC's advice on recreation and tourism:

The Ghost public land use zone is a world-renowned rock and ice climbing destination. There has been very limited recognition of this type of tourism and recreational endeavour, to date, from the government of Alberta. The SSRP must support and sustain motorized access to this and other soft tread recreational activities in this iconic region and other public lands that border along the foothills and main ranges of the Rocky Mountains.

Section 3: Healthy Ecosystem and Environment

Question 24 – Share additional comments regarding RAC's advice on water management:

Any water management / riparian management plan must include sensible and sustainable motorized access corridors.

Section 4: Healthy Communities

Question 31, 5: Provide accessible and affordable recreation facilities, parks and open spaces.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 31, 6: Local government and land managers explore partnership opportunities to revitalize, develop and enhance parks, open spaces and recreation within and in close proximity to municipalities.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 32 – Share additional comments regarding the RAC's advice on healthy communities:

The SSRP needs to acknowledge that many Albertans desire soft tread wilderness recreational opportunities. These activities require little infrastructure but do require motorized access to staging areas. Healthy communities are made up of healthy Albertans. Sensible recreational access to wilderness staging areas is paramount to ensuring the health of Albertan communities and that of individuals that make up those communities.

Question 35, 10a: Unmanaged recreation activities that do not demonstrate stewardship and respect for the natural environment, other values and land uses should not be permitted on public lands. (• Motorized recreation, including rallies and races, should not be permitted on public lands unless authorized on designated trails, routes and areas.)

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 35, 10b: Unmanaged recreation activities that do not demonstrate stewardship and respect for the natural environment, other values and land uses should not be permitted on public lands. (Motorized activities should not be permitted in riparian areas or wetlands, and mud bogging should be prohibited on public lands.)

Answer: STRONGLY DISAGREE*

*(What we are disagreeing with here is "Motorized activities should not be permitted in riparian areas or wetlands". Climbers and hikers cross rivers and creeks in the Ghost in their vehicles, but don't stop to mud-bog. Stewardship and respect for the natural environment comes through the appropriate selection of riparian crossings (hard bottomed crossings) and minimizing vehicle impact to the waterbodies. The government is lumping our responsible motorized access with OHV mud-bogging. See the recommended comment below that you can use to help the govt. understand that our use of the land is different)

Question 35, 10c: Unmanaged recreation activities that do not demonstrate stewardship and respect for the natural environment, other values and land uses should not be permitted on public lands. (Unmanaged camping should not be permitted on public lands unless authorized in designated areas.)

Answer: STRONGLY DISAGREE*

*(we will lose random camping opportunities in the Ghost. Appropriate random camping, with setbacks from waterbodies and education to maintain clean campgrounds is essential)

In the comments section, you can write:

Question 36 – Additional comments regarding the RAC's advice on high value recreation and tourism areas and managing recreation on public lands.

The Ghost River area, and many areas along the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies, provide world-class ice and rock climbing opportunities. Without vehicular access on the existing tracks and trails, the climbs will become all but inaccessible. I use my vehicle simply to access the climbs - I do not mud-bog or spend time in the rivers or creeks. I cross all wet areas on the established track and keep damage to the land and my vehicle to an absolute minimum. The existing tracks and trails must be kept open to allow access for climbers and their soft-tread activity!

Appropriate random camping, with setbacks from waterbodies and education to maintain clean campgrounds is also essential.

Question 37, 6: Seek opportunities through partnerships to enhance existing infrastructure (e.g., roads, sewer and water) in current parks and recreation attractions.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 37, 7: Implement strategies to promote visitation to under- utilized recreation and tourism infrastructure.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 37, 9: Work with the private, not for profit and public sectors to expand the supply and diversity of the recreation opportunities and tourism products where they are currently lacking.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 37, 10: Develop new services and un-serviced designated camping opportunities in the Eastern Slopes and eastern areas of the region.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 38 - Share any additional comments regarding the RAC's advice on maintaining the integrity of high value recreation and tourism areas and infrastructure enhancement.

Many Albertans in the region rely on wilderness access for solitude, recreation, camping, heath and wellness. Sustainable and sensible motorized access corridors must be developed and maintained to ensure Albertans have opportunity to enjoy significant high value soft tread recreation. Closure of motorized access corridors will effectively cut off all access for rock and ice climbers in particular, and many other soft tread users in general because of the unpractical additional distances that would need to be covered by non-vehicular means.

Sustainable random camping that has motorized access is an extremely significant recreational event for Albertans. Sustainable, sensible random camping opportunities must be part of the SSRP.

Section 5: Land-use Direction and Management Intent

Question 43 – Additional comments regarding the proposed management intent for mixed-use – forest on public lands:

The SSRP should ensure soft tread recreational access corridors and random camping opportunities are planned for in conservation and mixed use regions. Trails and access should be designed with engineering, education, evaluation and enforcement principles in mind.

Question 46, 5: Recreation and tourism activities (primitive and backcountry) - wilderness hiking, hunting, fishing and low-impact camping will be permitted.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 46, 7: Public motorized access, where permitted, limited to designated trails, routes, roads and staging areas will be permitted.

Answer: STRONGLY AGREE

Question 47 – Additional comments regarding the proposed land-use in conservation areas:

Two of the largest user groups of the Eastern Slopes in the winter are ice climbers and mountaineers as well as rock climbers in summer months. There is no mention of these user groups in the RAC's recommendations. This soft tread group needs to be acknowledged and included in land use decisions.

Sensible motorized access to conservation areas along with random camping opportunities is a high value recreational objective for Albertans. There is no point in designating a region for primitive recreation if there is no practical way to participate in the aforementioned primitive recreation.

Question 50 - Additional comments regarding land conservation:

Vehicular access to and within wilderness areas should be maintained through the existing track and trail systems. In addition, there needs to be a process for developing new trails with appropriate oversight and stewardship.

Stewardship and respect for the natural environment comes through the appropriate selection of riparian crossings (hard bottomed crossings) and minimizing vehicle impact to the waterbodies.

Question 52 – Additional comments regarding the proposed land use in recreation and tourism areas:

Continue to allow random wilderness camping in low-use areas. Motorized access to staging areas for soft tread recreation must be part of the SSRP, as with governmental commitment to sustain and maintain these access corridors.

Question 53 – Rate the importance of each area as a recreation and tourism resource:

Answer: Click on "High Priority" for A, B. and E.

Question 55 – Additional comments regarding the RAC's recommendations on recreation and tourism:

The Castle Special Management Area is a significant ice climbing, rock climbing, mountaineering, and back country skiing region. If motorized access along the valley floor to specific staging areas is diminished or denied then there will be no practical way to engage in these soft tread recreational activities. The SSRP must have sensible, sustainable, and maintained motorized wilderness recreational access corridors.

Section 6: Next Steps

Question 56 – Additional comments regarding the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan:

There did not appear to be any representatives from the soft tread outdoor recreation community on the advisory committee. Soft tread users should be consulted and represented in future discussions.


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