LETHBRIDGE – The provincial government is investing approximately $5 million into a number of projects over four years, to support recreational opportunities in the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills area, while simultaneously protecting public lands.
Environment and Parks minister, Shannon Phillips, made the announcement Friday, April 20, providing an overview of the initiative.
“We've got some off-highway vehicle bridges, we've got some areas where we've done some trail grooming to accommodate, for example, snowmobilers. We’ve got some investments in camping nodes,” said Phillips.
She also noted that $2.2 million is earmarked for the Fisheries Habitat Enhancement and Sustainability program, which will go towards reducing sedimentation and completing bank stabilization at damaged stream crossings. Those efforts will protect fish populations, including the threatened westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout in Allison Creek, Giradi Creek, Hidden Creek and Lyon Creek.
When asked why the announcement came a week before the conclusion of a public feedback period, Phillips said some of the investments were clear and necessary, regardless of what comes out of the consultation phase.
“All recreation groups, plus the ranchers and the municipalities who have been involved in the planning for this area, have asked us for infrastructure investments,” she explained. “They've asked us for more signage, for better stream crossings – and the dwindling fish populations have also asked us for that kind of action.
“People who make their living out there, who live there, who own property out there, have asked us to undertake that planning exercise,” Phillips continued, discussing the consultation. “A lack of planning and a proliferation of illegal trails and so on was really becoming a real problem, especially for cattle ranchers trying to make a living.”
Phillips made a point of noting that they will be working with locals in the implementation of several projects and touched on the timeline for the work going forward.
“We are moving forward with a number of these new projects this year, and this funding will be staged out. Some of it is not committed yet, because it is awaiting the outcome of the consultation exercise for the Porcupine-Livingstone [area].”
As noted earlier, the consultation phase for the draft Livingstone-Porcupine Hills Land Footprint and Recreation Management plans remains open until 4 p.m. on April 26.
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