05/14/2015 01:03 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Alberta Law Enforcement To Increase Along The Mountains

the naked fauxtographer/Flickr
the ranger saw me pointing my camera and decided to strike a pose... nice and natural...
EDMONTON - Alberta is bolstering the enforcement of laws on public land along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Starting this weekend and throughout the summer, 21 conservation officers and park rangers will be posted to the regions of Pincher Creek, Kananaskis and Rocky Mountain House.

They will have the power to ticket offenders and call in RCMP, wildlife officers and other police in more serious cases.

Ryan Heise, an Alberta Environment spokesman, said the aim is to prevent bad behaviour such as ATV riders damaging the backcountry and people leaving garbage and equipment behind at campsites.

"Severe environmental impact stuff, things like mudbogging, really ripping up the land," Heise said Thursday.

"We have had a lot of cases in the past of people who are camping leaving all of their stuff. Lots of litter. And then stuff like liquor infractions, firearm infractions."

In recent years, campers have abandoned chairs, tents, mattresses and even cars in the backcountry.

Heise said Albertans have the right to use public land, but they also have the responsibility to use it properly and safely.

RCMP have said more enforcement of off-highway vehicles is needed in the backcountry to prevent damage to the environment and other illegal behaviour.

Mounties have said they are dealing with more cases of people causing environmental damage by driving ATVs through stream beds.

They have also found people carrying loaded weapons on ATVs, people randomly shooting firearms and illegal hunting.

Municipalities have also been calling for beefed-up enforcement as more people use public land for recreation, Heise said.

Two rangers are also being assigned to backcountry areas near Fort McMurray.

The Alberta Wilderness Association is pleased with the government's decision, noting there has been widespread damage to streams and river beds along the eastern slopes.

Spokesman Sean Nichols said the association has repeatedly called on the province to reduce the harmful affects of ATVs on public land.

"We are hopeful that this will be a deterrent to irresponsible off-highway vehicle use that is degrading the sensitive wetlands and streams crucial for our abundant, clean water supply."

Heise said the government will review the effectiveness of the enforcement efforts after the summer before deciding what to do next year and beyond.

Heise said the point of the stepped-up enforcement is to encourage Albertans to use the land respectfully.

"We want to protect it for generations to come."

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