The people have spoken!
A province-wide survey of Albertans’ outdoor activities and values toward recreation and wilderness shows that 68 per cent of adults in the Lower Peace region participate in outdoor recreation.
And, every survey respondent in the Lower Peace want governments to set aside more wilderness where human activity is minimal.
The survey captures what Albertans are doing for outdoor recreation and their values about wilderness, public lands and recreation, reads a news release from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
The survey is representative of Alberta’s entire adult population and was commissioned by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Southern and Northern Alberta chapters.
The phone survey was done in April/May 2015, and interviewed 1,300 adults in all areas of Alberta, 100 of which were residents of the Lower Peace region residing in the counties of Mackenzie, Northern Lights, Northern Sunrise and Opportunity.
Key findings included:
* 68 per cent of adults in the Lower Peace region participate in outdoor recreation.
* 100 per cent the survey respondents in the Lower Peace feel it is important to set aside more wilderness where human activity is minimal.
* 87 per cent of adults in the Lower Peace believe it is important to protect wilderness because these areas contribute to better air and water quality.
* 87 per cent of adults want wilderness areas protected and left in their natural condition, even if these areas are never visited by, or benefit, humans.
* 89 per cent want wilderness protected because these areas help preserve plant and animal species.
* 35 per cent feel there are not enough places for hiking, backcountry camping and non-motorized recreation.
* 33 per cent feel there are not enough places for walking, jogging and biking.
37 1/2 per cent feel there are not enough places for on-land motorized recreation [off-highway vehicles, ATVs, dirt bikes, etc.] in the Lower Peace.
* 37 1/2 per cent feel there are not enough places for outdoor winter activities.
* Adults in the Lower Peace engage in some form of outdoor recreation 96 days per year.
* The most popular summer/fall recreation activities in the Lower Peace are hiking, camping, fishing, and off-road motorcycling or OHV use with approximately one-third of adults in the region taking part in these activities.
* The most popular winter/spring recreation activities in the Lower Peace are walking with one third of the adults identifying this activity. The next most popular winter/spring activities include hiking, skiing/snowboarding, snowmobiling and off-road motorcycling or off-highway vehicle use at about 20 per cent of the adult population.
“This study builds on what we have seen in other surveys, that Albertans love to recreate outdoors and almost 90 per cent of them want wilderness protected from development and degradation, even if that protection means limited or no access by humans,” says Richard Roberts, president of The Praxis Group.
“Albertans’ affinity for nature is also seen in the types of recreation they prefer. The vast majority of Albertans practice non-motorized recreation such as hiking, cycling and paddling,” he adds.
The information can be used in Alberta’s land-use planning process that is beginning across the province over the next several years in both recreation planning and designation of protected areas.
“This survey results clearly point to wilderness protection and will be valuable to the Province, land-use planners, and conservation groups all over the Lower Peace area,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director of CPAWS Southern Alberta.
“We see that what Albertans overwhelmingly want for the landscape is quite different than what they get from the land-use planning processes which can rely disproportionately on a few industries and recreation user groups that are vocal but have very small membership.”
The findings are part of CPAWS’ mission to promote awareness and understanding of ecological principles and the inherent values of wilderness through education, appreciation and experience.
The random telephone survey was conducted by The Praxis Group with 1,300 adult Albertans from April 27 to May 5, 2015, with a margin of error of +/- 2.71 per cent 19 times out of 20.
The people have spoken!