Update on the Bighorn Country Proposal

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Source: Alberta Beef Producers

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Bighorn Country Proposal from Alberta Environment and Parks. The proposal consists of four provincial parks, four recreation areas and two Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ) west of Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House and Sundre, and borders Banff National Park to the West. There are several beef producers that hold grazing leases, permits or are members of a grazing reserve in the area, and therefore may be impacted (either positively or negatively) by the Bighorn proposal. ABP has formed a Bighorn Working Group to review the proposal, raise any concerns we may have, and participate in the consultation sessions. We will be submitting a letter with recommendations for improving the proposal to ensure grazing stakeholder interests are maintained. In addition, we have requested a grazing stakeholder meeting with the government and are currently working out logistics.

ABP has been a strong supporter of environmental stewardship and conservation of sensitive rangelands and riparian areas for many years. We have seen how well managed grazing livestock can not only complement conservation, but also improve the health of rangelands, riparian areas, and forests. Grazing disposition holders in the Bighorn have long recognized the value of stewardship and work hard to ensure their leases, permits and grazing reserves are sustainable in the long term. ABP also recognizes there is increased pressure from many users and land use planning is essential for long term environmental health in the Bighorn area.

Although ABP appreciates the Government of Alberta’s commitment to honour all grazing leases, permits, and grazing reserves in the Bighorn, we have concerns and ideas for improvements to the plan. There is uncertainty with respect to specific details about how the Public Land Use Zones will continue to be overseen and by whom, including the development or refinement of grazing management plans, collaboration opportunities with local grazers, and how conflict between users will be mitigated. In addition, we are hearing that producers are nervous about long term secure tenure of grazing dispositions and whether leases and permits will continue to be renewed or allowed for transfer. For more details you can view our briefing note summary here: www.albertabeef.org/producers/policy-regulation

If you would like more information about the Bighorn or would like to participate in the public online survey, you can find it here: https://talkaep.alberta.ca/bighorn-country

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