The Alberta government is turning the Saskatoon Mountain Natural Area into a Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) to support new recreation opportunities.
The 1,000-hectare natural area in the County of Grande Prairie near Beaverlodge has been reclassified as a PRA and expanded by 311 hectares to support future development as an Alberta Parks destination and to protect sensitive ecosystems.
“Reclassification of Saskatoon Mountain will provide greater protection of the land while enhancing recreational opportunities for families and visitors to the area. Our government is listening to Albertans who said they wanted to see improvements to public safety and new nature-based recreation.”
~Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
The County of Grande Prairie requested the reclassification to curb inappropriate land use that included incidents of vandalism and random off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity. The change does not affect hunting and OHV activity on designated trails.
“The County of Grande Prairie is appreciative of the province’s cooperation, support and efforts in making Saskatoon Mountain a provincial recreation area. The reclassification, expansion and upgrades to the area will ensure the needs of park users are met and ecosystems are preserved and protected so this jewel is available for our future generations to enjoy.”
~Leanne Beaupre, reeve, County of Grande Prairie
Key changes under the reclassification
- Strengthened protection of the area supported by stricter rules, regulations and enforcement abilities.
- A management strategy for the area that includes permitted hunting and OHV use.
- Development of a trail network with local motorized and non-motorized user groups. Informal trails that are not designated will be closed and reclaimed.
- Upgrades to day-use facilities, picnic benches, fire pits and washrooms, with consideration of future development of a campground with electrified sites.
- Education and awareness campaign around rules and regulations related to the new PRA.
Saskatoon Mountain is 30 kilometres west of Grande Prairie. It is home to plants and animals that are commonly found in foothills regions, making it unique in the area. A draft management plan to support the new recreation area will be started this year.
In 2009, Alberta Parks developed preliminary management strategies for the site as part of the Grande Prairie Region Parks Plan. In 2012, Alberta Parks and the County of Grande Prairie jointly funded O2 Planning and Design Consultants to develop recommendations for management of the Saskatoon Mountain Natural Area.
In February 2013, County of Grande Prairie council accepted the consultant’s report and directed its administration to work with Alberta Parks to move forward a formal PRA reclassification proposal.
In 2014, Alberta Parks consulted the public and OHV stakeholders on a proposal to reclassify and expand Saskatoon Mountain Natural Area. In the proposal, hunting and OHV activity on designated trails would continue to be permitted. In the summer of 2017, an inventory of trails was initiated.