Dogs must be on a leash in the West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area
The authorities, those who delight in exercising their powers as public servants, set up an ugly sign both in its message and in appearance near the parking lot in West Bragg Creek. The sign says, "Pets must be on leash in West Bragg PRA. Fine $115. The dog leash restriction applies in the "Provincial Recreation Area" which, appropriately for Alberta, is a parking lot and about 100 metres surrounding the parking lot. I think this policy is legally unenforceable as there is no fence or boundary marker of any kind to inform the public of where the boundary of the PRA actually falls on the land.
UPDATE: Sat. Feb. 9, 2013
The sign is gone. It was installed on or about Wed. Jan. 30, 2013. It was removed as of Saturday, Feb. 9. The speed with which the sign was removed, the undefined terms, the appearance of the sign, the fact that the policy is unenforceable, all seem to point to the likelihood that this sign was not authorized by Kananaskis and that it was intended to intimidate or bully one user group, the dog walkers. Skiers have already had their access to trails curtailed. At any other time that might be a useful approach to achieve an end, but when the landscape is under attack from commercial interests intent on taking away a highly valued natural area, this approach is abusive and wrong. The Trails Association has already published messages advising visitors to West Bragg Creek to avoid some areas and have prohibited use of the Mountain Road. How many more barriers can the authorities place on the users of the area before people recognize that their rights are being trampled upon?
The map (below) shows the PRA in the West Bragg Creek area of Kananaskis. All of the trailheads in the Elbow Valley have similar boundaries for their PRAs. That would be Elbow Falls, Allen Bill Pond, and the others along the valley and up in Sibbald.
Download an Acrobat (pdf) map of the West Bragg Creek PRA.
Those that aren't aware of the peculiar policies of the government with respect to Provincial Recreation Areas, could easily think the leash policy applies to the entire wildland inside Kananaskis. The tricky thing is to correlate the map to the land. You can see from the map that the snowshoe trail runs along the border for a few metres on the north-eastern corner. I put a few markers on the trees in the area which you can see in the photo below. There is a faint cutline in the forest there and where it crosses the trail linking the parking lot to the Telephone Loop. At the other end, on the western border of the Provincial Recreation Area, there is a steel gate on the Mountain Road that is open. I think that is a marker for the PRA.
Ribbon marker indicating the border of the PRA on the snowshoe trail
Serving the public interest
The thing I find really galling is these kinds of restrictive policies surface at times when Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, ASRD, is engaging in particularly aggressive disruptions to the natural landscape and our enjoyment and use of Kananaskis.
The Trans Rockies Mountain Bike Race was refused access to Kananaskis at the same time the energy industry was ripping a gash through Kananaskis for the Shell/Husky pipeline.
I put together a gaspatch tour photo album at the time.
Here's a spy camera video of the construction underway.
The administration claim that they closed access to the Ice Cave because of dangerous conditions. I suggest they closed it because of increased activity around the Compressor Station on the Canyon Creek road and that the danger lies in the toxicity of poison gasses that emanate from the plant, the flare stacks and the pipelines in the area.
ASRD under the direction of Spray Lakes Sawmills who under their Forest Management Agreement closed the part of the Trans Canada Trail that passes through Kananaskis when the company began commercial logging in the Sibbald Area. They turned the part of the trail that ran along the Lusk Pass and Old Baldy trails into a logging road.
Now they are harassing dog walkers while they destroy our treasured forest and wreck our trails. I've spent about a decade fighting this destructive, wasteful policy that allows loggers to manage the forest. Listening to the screaming wail of the big machines ripping through the forest 24-hours a day and watching the view of my forested foothills being laid to waste is driving me crazy. I have such a profound contempt for the loggers and the government policy that encourages them to lay waste to the forest. This is the legacy we leave to those that follow. The only solace is that they won't know what they've lost.