Public Lands Introduction
Alberta Wilderness Association’s vision for Alberta’s public lands is for large tracts of forest, grassland, mountain wildlands, and natural waterways, all with intact natural processes, the full complement of wild species, unencumbered foot access for public enjoyment, sustainable harvest, stewardship, and spiritual renewal. Alberta’s public lands will exist in perpetuity for the benefit of all generations and for the conservation of indigenous wildlife.
Public lands are lands managed and administered by federal or provincial governments on behalf of the public who owns these lands. Although the terms public lands and Crown lands are interchangeable, AWA prefers to use public lands as the more democratic term. These lands are held in trust for Albertans by our elected government. Except for federal public lands – national parks, military land, and aboriginal reserves, which together make up 10 percent of Alberta – the ownership, administration, and management of public lands passed from federal to provincial control on October 21, 1930.
Approximately 60 percent of Alberta is provincial public land, compared with 93 percent in B.C. and 95 percent in Newfoundland/Labrador. Private land covers 28.5 percent of Alberta and federal public land covers approximately 10 percent of the province. (Eleven percent of Canada is private land.)
Provincial public land may have a variety of uses, such as farming; livestock grazing; forest reserves for timber and water production; resource extraction, including coal, oil, gas, gravel, and minerals; and protected areas, including parks, wilderness areas, and other recreation and wildlife habitat lands. In Alberta, provincial protected areas cover 4.2 percent of the land base.
AWA has always been a staunch defender of Alberta’s public lands. For more than four decades, AWA has consistently demanded a publicly developed public lands policy to deal with all aspects of public land, including access, sales, management, and conservation. No such policy exists. AWA opposes any further destruction of native prairie grassland and sales of public land until a public lands policy is developed through a transparent and democratic public process.