Outdoor Enthusiasts Urged to Respect Public Land

More than 300 provincial enforcement officers will patrol public land, parks and protected areas this spring and summer.

Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips addresses public land enforcement prior to the May long weekend.

Over the upcoming long weekend and throughout the rest of the season, provincial government staff will once again work together to ensure everyone understands and follows the rules and regulations that protect public lands.

Last year, provincial enforcement officers issued 6,595 charges and warnings for various offences on public land. Of those, 644 were for offences under the Public Lands Act and Public Lands Administration Regulation.

“As Albertans, we are truly fortunate to have so many outdoor recreation opportunities. It is our mission to conserve and protect our public land so that it is always there for people to enjoy.”

~Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

“We want Albertans to enjoy the great outdoors safely this long weekend. Our government is committed to protecting our natural surroundings while keeping people safe.”

~Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

On top of the core funding for public land enforcement and management, government will provide an additional $1.5 million for:

  • hiring about 20 seasonal park rangers
  • hiring five seasonal recreation engagement officers
  • hiring eight seasonal problem wildlife positions to allow fish and wildlife officers more opportunity to enforce public lands legislation
  • education materials and targeted outreach

Fish and wildlife officers, conservation officers, park rangers and RCMP work together to enforce legislation on public land.

Environmental protection officers, lands officers and forest officers also play an important part in monitoring for issues and educating land users about responsible practices.

This year, enforcement personnel will be able to write on-the-spot tickets for an additional 38 new and increased specified penalties for existing public land and water bodies offences.

These changes mean enforcement personnel can spend less time in court and more time on the landscape.

“These new procedures will allow our officers to operate more effectively when it comes to protecting the integrity of Alberta’s beautiful lands and waterways. Any process that increases efficiency in our day-to-day duties frees officers to better serve their communities in other capacities.”

~John Ferguson, Assistant Commissioner, Alberta RCMP Criminal Operations Officer, Core Policing

Entering a restricted/prohibited area in a Public Land Use Zone will net violators a $402 fine and failing to report to a mandatory watercraft inspection station will cost $310. Fines for random camping on public land for more than 14 consecutive days will increase from $172 to $287. The changes will come into force on May 31.

“The Alberta Fish & Game Association applauds the government’s work to clean up public land. Destructive, irresponsible use of public land gives us all a black eye. We have always been in favour of increased enforcement alongside a comprehensive education, information and awareness program about stewardship of our public land and waters. We continue to be in favour of access to all public land in a responsible and non-destructive manner.”

~Doug Butler, president, Alberta Fish & Game Association

“Council for the Municipal District of Bonnyville fully supports Alberta Environment and Parks changes to the management of our public land. M.D. council believes the new enforcement regulations will result in a better utilization of the fish and wildlife officers’ time, as well as providing a more enjoyable outdoor experience for visitors to our public land.”

~Greg Sawchuk, reeve, Municipal District of Bonnyville

While most people take care not to damage public lands, the following examples of serious public land abuse continue to occur:

  • driving a car, truck, OHV, etc., through a naturally occurring water body
  • dumping large amounts of garbage
  • cutting down trees and creating new trails instead of using existing ones
  • building unauthorized structures on public land
  • random camping in the same location for more than 14 days
  • entering closed areas

Quick facts

  • Anyone who witnesses a serious public land abuse can phone the Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800 or visit the Report A Poacher website.
  • In addition to enforcement actions, more than 116,000 brochures, maps and information cards were handed out last year.
  • Also, almost 2,500 educational, wayfinding and regulatory signs were developed and distributed.
  • A report outlining last year’s education, prevention and enforcement efforts is available online.
  • Statistics on enforcement actions will be published online every 14 days.
  • Special compliance reports will be published after every long weekend.