Alberta beefs up public land rule enforcement

There will be more official boots on the ground this year in Alberta to enforce the rules on public land and in provincial parks.

The provincial government announced today that it will hire eight new “seasonal problem wildlife” personnel, five new “seasonal recreation engagement officers” and re-hire approximately 20 seasonal park rangers who will enforce laws governing public land use.

“More than 300 fish and wildlife officers, conservation officers and seasonal park rangers will patrol public land, parks and protected areas this summer to keep Albertans safe, enforce rules and raise awareness about the regulations that protect the land,” said a government news release.

There is a newly created fine of $287 for leaving a campfire unattended, and enforcement officials will also be monitoring compliance with a law enacted earlier this year requiring helmet use when riding an off-highway vehicle on public lands. Failing to wear a helmet can net a fine up to $155.

The announcement of more officers and rules was timed just before the May long weekend, which generally signals the start of the camping season and has historically been a busy time for enforcement of regulations in parks and on public lands.

Last year, between May and December, more than 6,800 charges and warnings were issued for such things as operating OHVs without registration or insurance, cutting down trees, fishing without a licence and entering closed areas, said the news release.

This year, the environment and parks department intends to post statistics every two weeks of warnings and violations issued on public land and on calls to the Report a Poacher hotline. The latter phone line, at 800-642-3800, is the same number to call to report public land abuse of any type.

The number to report a fire is 310-FIRE (3473). Fines of up to $100,000 can be applied to individuals who start a wildfire. Corporations who do so can be fined up to $1 million.

Among the most common abuses of public lands are garbage dumping, camping in environmentally sensitive areas and using OHVs around streambeds and wetlands.

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