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Maps of the Recreation Areas in northeastern Kananaskis with a few detail maps of the Elbow Valley areas.

Kananaskis Country Management Plan - Terms of Reference, Nov. 2007

Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture media release calling for input on Kananaskis park and recreation plans

Parks classification of levels of protection in Kananaskis

Managing Kananaskis


Use the "Management Planning" link to see how they decide what kind of park to create, who will have access and what they can do there.

A solution

Why is this so hard? Most of the people we talk to either think Kananaskis is a park or that it should be one.

How did they get the park that was created in Drayton Valley last spring? Apparently, the stakeholders; that would be us, environmental groups, hunters horseback riders, industry, the MLA, the municipal district and others got together and worked out a proposal they could take to the government. That's a daunting list. Getting any kind of agreement on terms for the creation of a park in Kananaskis is not going to be easy.

Recreation Areas Management Plan

Open Houses to receive input on K-Country management held Nov. 26 & 27, 2007 in Calgary and Bragg Creek.

  • We hoped this would be a first step towards creation of a park in northeastern Kananaskis.
  • We understand that it is part of a process to restore facilities, activities and infrastructure in the area.
  • We fear it is a distraction from the commercial logging underway in the area.

We're not sure which one of the above is true, but we know this is the best opportunity we've had to move towards creation of a park.

Time for a change in Kananaskis

The stated purpose of the Alberta Tourism, Recreation, Parks and Culture (TPRC) Open House is to develop a Management Plan for the 42 Provincial Recreation Areas (PRAs) in the Elbow, Sheep, Sibbald and Highwood Districts. These parks are island preserves in an ocean of industrial development.

Some of the ideas that are being kicked around include; fixing Allen Bill Pond, adding a trailhead parking lot at the end of Hwy 66 to provide access to Powderface Trail and maybe building a small lodge for overnight accommodation. The idea that they should create a park in Kananaskis is not under consideration.

Save Kananaskis is concerned with the northeastern areas of Kananaskis, including part of the Sheep and all of the Elbow and Sibbald districts. These foothills are not protected. They are multi-use areas; for recreation, oil & gas, forestry, agriculture and tourism. We estimate that less than 5% of the area is protected as a Recreation Area.

Save Kananaskis says that the multi-use policy is not working; trails have deteriorated badly, signs are unreadable, interpretive programs have been cancelled, the Ranger Station has been abandoned and the officers and staff that worked there are gone, access to the Ice Cave was closed in 2002 and Allen Bill Pond is no longer (the dam broke in the 2005 floods). All this while industrial development is expanding and a major logging operation is underway in the area. This Management Plan will likely resolve many of these problems, but patching the siding only diguises the problems within.

TPRC is responsible for protected areas (parks) in Kananaskis; Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) is responsible for the other 42% - the forestry. SRD has authority over almost the entire northeastern part of Kananaskis, except for the Recreation Areas. The government doesn't consider the 450-kilometres of trails in northeastern Kananaskis to be part of parks and recreation areas. This includes the Lusk Creek Trail and Old Baldy Pass Trail where Spray Lakes Sawmill is currently felling trees. Some of the clear-cuts surround trails. A few years ago part of the Wildhorse Trail was wiped out by logging.

In Kananaskis, TPRC has a tiered park system. On the bottom tier are Recreation Areas; the trailheads, campsites and picnic areas (basically parking lots and the fringe of trees that surround or connect them). Provincial Parks are the next tier. They are larger and can have trails and other facilities to provide recreation activities. On the top tier (in terms of protection) are Wildland Parks, which don't allow structures or other human interference.

TPRC have demonstrated their determination to preserve wild lands in Kananaskis. They refused to allow 500 cyclists in the TransRockies Bike Race to ride through the area, citing environmental damage to trails as too great. Compare this to SRD encouraging bulldozers and feller-bunchers to rip through the forest.

Things have changed since Kananaskis was designated a multi-use area in 1976. It is time to transfer authority in Kananaskis to the Parks department so they can have a coherent management plan for all of Kananaskis.