July 26th, 2017

Door slammed on outdoor pursuits

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on February 15, 2017.

Off-highway vehicle users helped build

trail network

Brent Hodgson


Over the past 30 years, responsible user groups, such as the Alberta Off Highway Vehicle Association (AOHVA), invested millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to build trails for motorized recreation in Alberta. We have hauled material, built bridges and created a sustainable trail network to ensure that responsible trail users have a safe place to ride, hike, mountain bike and generally enjoy the wilderness of our great province. We did this without any government support.

We believed the government agreed with our aim of limiting environmental impacts while encouraging safety. We believed that responsible trail usage in the Castle could continue. We believed these things because the Alberta government told us so, repeatedly and in writing.

Then, with the stroke of a pen, Premier Notley decided Albertans could not use any of the trails in the Castle area. Just like that. And we expect these land-use parameters are to be the template for the rest of Alberta.

Despite clear messages from the government, land-use process workshops, and statements repeatedly made by Minister Phillips herself that designated trail systems would remain, the fact is: this minister and the premier had the Order in Council amending the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) passed Jan. 20, 2017, banning OHVs and random camping – even though they tout public input sessions running through to March 20, 2017.

This is deeply disappointing, because many OHV users optimistically and perhaps foolishly believed that this would be the government that would work with us to build a more interconnected, environmentally sustainable and safer trail network, not just in the Castle, but throughout Alberta.

When MLAs stand up and say, “Healthy watersheds, sustainable resource development, and responsible recreational activity are not mutually exclusive” (MLA Cam Westhead, Hansard, March 10, 2016), Albertans should be able to take them at their word. Apparently not. We will, however, stand by our word – the AOHVA and responsible OHV users support the creation of multi-use parks and we believe motorized recreation can continue in the Castle if it is managed properly.

That’s why we’re calling on the government to work with AOHVA to determine what trails should be revitalized and which ones may need to be reclaimed before any decisions on OHV use in the Castle are finalized.

If you love Alberta’s outdoors, it is time to take notice. Our wilderness is now political cannon fodder. Anglers, hunters, snowmobilers, fur harvesters – we are all in this together.

The AOHVA, in collaboration with other Albertans, have repeatedly informed the provincial government of our interest to rapidly develop the framework for a user-funded, sustainable, environmentally responsible trail network; a system that could not only improve Alberta’s environment but also act as a significant economic driver through increased tourism – a model proven successful in other provinces.

OHV users, and all Albertans, are ready for the difficult conversations the government has called for but make no mistake – we want to see some meaningful action out of them rather than political posturing at our expense.

We’re ready to do our part; are you, minister?

AOHVA is a non-profit organization representing the interests of 165,000 off-highway vehicle recreation users that is dedicated to providing safe motorized recreational activities in an environmentally responsible manner. Its efforts focus on education, safety, and the revitalization and restoration of trails and facilities on both public and private land throughout Alberta.

8 Responses to “Door slammed on outdoor pursuits”

  1. already extinct says:

    No sympathy from me Mr, Hodgson – ZERO!

    You do not speak for nature- one word.

    I don’t care how much money you and your pals have spent, or how much time you’ve invested displacing nature for your pleasure – so you and 165,000 other like minded “recreationalists” can sit on your high powered all terrain ripping tired chain saws and buzz the hell out of the trails, rivers and streams.

    You plead well for what you’ve done to build a network for OHV’s some with enough horsepower to pull the Calgary Tower off its foundation, but nothing, not one word to tell us what you’ve done or propose to do in the future to restore nature, because you can’t! You’ve pretty much taken them off the landscape, and you don’t care, you don’t see, hear or do you care that you buggered up countless areas without concern for a mother robin and it’s offspring, or a denning fox. All you’re concerned with is who can get to the top of the hill, or end of the trail the quickest!

    You need to understand there are people like myself who enjoy the peace quite & solitude of recreational pursuits involving nature – those natural things in life – no Hollywood – no smoke, no gas in the air, no noise that deadens the brain. You soak in the smell and noise of petroleum, the yahoos the high fives at the top of the conquered mountain – the trail – we soak in the sounds of silence – nature.

    That’s mostly history now – gone, thanks to “efforts” by groups you represent, from most of our National Parks, and areas like Kananaskis and Castle, now full of loud mouths on bush hot rods, and fat old dudes in electric carts hauling there lazy selves around manicured grass lawns in the name of sport, cussing anything, removing anything natural, in the way or their pursuit.

    To Minister Phillips, I’m no fan of socialist governments or your NDP, but you have my unmitigated support when it comes to protecting what little remains of Alberta’s natural playgrounds. I sincerely hope you do not yield to pressure from the likes of Mr, Hodgson – Thank You!

    • Alberta_Sentinel says:

      @ already extinct

      As a mature responsible OHV user, with a special needs daughter – our SxS and these trails has provided her the ability to see Castle and other beautiful places she could not do otherwise as able bodied. She has mobility and our family can share the wonderful sights of nature this province offers together.

      Painting everyone with a single brush as you are “full of loud mouths on bush hot rods, and fat old dudes in electric carts hauling there lazy selves around manicured grass lawns in the name of sport, cussing anything, removing anything natural, in the way or their pursuit.” only serves to highlight your complete selfishness, disrespect, and intolerance of others.

      Thank you to all who have worked to maintain these trails, and I sincerely hope a balance can be made that RESPECTS the input of all Albertans, not just side on the input of those with an apparent distain and bias towards the users. Let’s share Alberta, respectfully.

      not tolerating of views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own; bigoted

      • already extinct says:

        Your opinion of me I tolerate, and it is your choice if you choose to expose your daughter to the carnage, racket and destruction sir or madam.

        Shuffle the deck of reality all you choose, the mess remains, the carnage continues, and the earth cannot repair itself fast enough to remove the scars -even though you choose to ignore them or even make ANY mention of them in your rebuttal – that tells me lots about you – LOTS..

        I truly do hope you find a place where you can recreate with your daughter, far away from the destructive activities of which I address – and if you have found such a place on public lands – which I highly doubt – keep it a secret – it will not be your Shangri-la for long.

        • Alberta_Sentinel says:

          Thanks. It’s clear that your perception and beliefs of this issue differs from mine. To solve the real issue we would have to assume we both have good intentions, but approach solutions differently. But by implying a moral inferiority on my part as I do not agree with you, if far more reflective of you than me. So we have nothing left to discuss at this point, feel free to continue your onslaught of moral superiority if you wish. I sincerely hope that this government behaves differently in working to provide solutions to this issue, as well as the voice of those supporting closing the area.

          • already extinct says:

            This has nothing to do with me my friend. Nothing at all.

            The proof of which I talk to is in the torn & plundered hills yonder.

            I advise you read your own words -You speak for YOU – I speak for those with no voice, whose home you’ve displaced for YOUR pleasure. I speak for those downstream too.

            I’m as hopeful as you that “this government behaves differently” in fact much differently than the one preceding it – they’re showing they are.

            Sammy Jay, Peter Cottontail, Reddy Fox, Buster Bear, Chatter the Squirrel & Old Grannie Fox along with the rest of the cast thank Ms. Phillips and all for the progress thus far!

            I forthwith close this contest, thank you for your input, happy trails.

  2. biff says:

    rightly said, al ex. time for nature to be given a chance to reclaim itself. that is the best gift one can pass on to another.

  3. Blue says:

    OHV group should not be allowed to hijack nature with their roaring, fume spewing machines. Aerial photos showing before and after would shock even those who rally to continue the destruction our wilderness. Off roadsters should try muscle power vs machine power – try taking a quiet walk; leave electronics at home; appreciate and revere nature and enter into it as if it were a cathedral rather an a wrestling arena.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.