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General regulations and guidelines
In the Province of Alberta, all visitors to a Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ) must:
- obey signs and posted notices
- obey the instructions of a Forest Officer
- leave the land in a clean and tidy condition
You must know and abide by the specific regulations for the PLUZ you are visiting!
Each PLUZ may have conditions and regulations that are specific to that land base. A map is available for you to find out more information about the PLUZ you plan to visit and become familiar with the provisions of the Forest Recreation Regulations. For further information see Public Land Use Zones - Overview.
When camping in a PLUZ
- Camp at least 30 m (100 ft) from lakes and streams.
- Ensure your camping facilities are temporary and portable.
- Leave vegetation and live trees undisturbed.
- Limit your stay to 14 days.
Wildlife Management Units and PLUZs
Hunters are reminded that the boundaries of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and PLUZs may overlap and all - or portions of - WMUs may have vehicle access restrictions.
On- and off-highway vehicle restrictions apply in all PLUZs and may limit:
- vehicle type and size
- trail access
- seasons open to vehicle use
Frequently asked questions
Can I have a fire in a Public Land Use Zone?
Yes. Responsible use of campfires for cooking or warming purposes is usually allowed.
Campfires, in accordance with the Forest Prairie and Protection Act, are permitted within Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs). However, some PLUZs allow fires in designated camping areas only and/or have other restrictions. Please refer to the specific information provided for the PLUZ you will be visiting. For further information see Public Land Use Zones - Overview.
Fires are not permitted when firebans are in effect. If available, use existing campfire facilities, portable camping stoves, or fire pits.
What activities are allowed in Public Land Use Zones?
In some Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs), motorized recreation is permitted.
In other PLUZs, motorized activity is not permitted. In these locations, most non-motorized activities are permitted within PLUZs, in accordance with the regulation. Some of these activities include:
Refer to the PLUZ you plan to visit for regulations regarding the activities that are and are not permitted. For further information see Public Land Use Zones - Overview.
Why is grazing and tethering of horses not allowed within 100 metres ( of lakes and streams in some of the Public Land Use Zones?
This requirement prevents water contamination and erosion of shorelines caused by trampling and overgrazing.
Equestrian users are encouraged to high-line their horses to prevent damage to roots.
Why are horse users required to provided their own feed in certain areas?
Providing supplemental feed for horses prevents overgrazing and ensures adequate forage for wildlife.
In addition, using weed-free feed helps to prevent the spread of noxious weeds.
What is being done to ensure the regulations in Public Land Use Zones are being followed?
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) staff engage recreationists through major community and recreation events to build understanding and awareness of PLUZ regulations and to encourage responsible use and stewardship.
Staff routinely patrol PLUZs to monitor compliance and provide information to recreational users on the "Respect the Land" programs and responsible recreation.
AEP Forest Officers, Fish and Wildlife Officers, and Seasonal Guardians partner with RCMP, Conservation Officers, Sheriffs and municipal enforcement officers to ensure public safety and responsible recreation throughout the province.
During peak periods, such as the May and September long weekends, additional resources are brought in through collaborative efforts with other departments and the RCMP.
What if recreationists ignore the regulations?
The Forest Recreation Regulation enables law enforcement officers to issue tickets and/or require a court appearance for contravention of the regulations. Offenders could face fines of up to $1000 per violation.
If you see activities that are not in alignment with the regulation of a PLUZ please contact the local AEP office.
Lead by example and encourage others to recreate responsibly.
Are there exceptions that may permit motorized vehicle access in Public Land Use Zones that have restrictions in place?
Yes, but only in the following circumstances:
- Restrictions do not apply to vehicles involved in government resource management activities or vehicles used to transport sick, injured or deceased persons. Such motorized vehicles may be used in restricted areas.
- Some motorized vehicles used by trappers are allowed within the limits of registered trapping areas. A permit is required and timing restrictions apply.
- Ministerial approval may be given for motorized vehicle use for special research in a zone.
- Motorized vehicles used for industrial activity are allowed by permit if a disposition has been approved for that activity by the Minister of Environment and Parks (AEP).
Is industrial activity allowed in Public Land Use Zones?
Yes. Industry operates under an existing regulatory framework that applies to all public land, including PLUZs.
This means that proposals for industrial development and activities within PLUZs are evaluated through review and approval processes that exist for all public land.
There are a variety of enforcement and remediation actions to address failure to comply with rules and regulations.
Are there any other laws that apply in the Public Land Use Zones?
Yes. Other legislation does apply in a Public Land Use Zone. See Provincial Legislation section below.
Can I build recreation structures on public land?
Structures and improvements to land within a Public Land Use Zone must be approved by Environment and Parks (AEP).
Failure to obtain departmental approval can result in enforcement actions.
Developing and managing trails and sites
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) strongly values the assistance of volunteers and user groups that promote responsible recreation and who develop, maintain and rehabilitate recreation trails and sites on public lands.
Trails development requirements
The development (example: mountain bike technical trail features), maintenance or rehabilitation of recreation resources on public lands requires the prior written approval of the AEP.
Failure to contact AEP before commencing the work is in contravention of the Public Lands Act and could lead to enforcement actions. To review the Act see Public Lands Act.
It is your responsibility to know the regulatory requirements for the lands on which you plan to travel.
The forests, meadows, rivers and wetlands of Alberta benefit us all. If you see someone causing damage to the environment, call 1-800-642-3800 to report: what occurred, date, time, location, vehicle and license plate number, description of the person or people causing the damage, your name and phone number.
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is responsible for administering a number of provincial statutes and regulations. In addition, AEP assists some other Government of Alberta Ministries with the implementation of their legislation.
Provincial legislation and regulations related to public land use
As a starting point, you should familiarize yourself with the provisions of the following regulations and statutes available on the Alberta Queen’s Printer website:
- Forest and Prairie Protection Act
The Forest and Prairie Protection Act prescribes the provisions for "warming fires" on public lands.
- Public Lands Administration Regulation
The Public Lands Administration Regulation governs the public’s use of all Public Land Use Zones, Provincial Recreation Areas, Forest Recreation Areas and Public Land Recreation Trails.
- Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation
The Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation prescribes the operational requirements for Off-Highway Vehicles in Alberta.
- Recreational Access Regulation
The Recreational Access Regulations clarify the rules for recreational and exploration access on agricultural dispositions issued under the Public Lands Act, including grazing leases and farm development leases.
- Traffic Safety Act (Part 6)
The Traffic Safety Act establishes the legislative requirements for Off-Highway Vehicles in Alberta.
The legislation and regulations above are most relevant to recreation on public lands, however, you may also wish to become familiar with the following:
- Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act
- Fisheries (Alberta) Act
- Fisheries (Ministerial) Regulation
- Forests Act
- General Fisheries (Alberta) Regulation
- Timber Management Regulation
- Public Lands Act
- Wildlife Act
Connect with AEP if you wish to develop, take over the maintenance, or reclaim any recreation infrastructure or impacted areas on public lands: Environment and Parks Contacts.