Part of Public land use

Recreation on agricultural public land

Information, tools and legislation for recreational access on agricultural public land.

Explore pages in:
Recreation on agricultural public land

Contact information and access conditions for agricultural dispositions in Alberta are now available on the new Recreation access on agricultural public lands web map.

Can’t find what you’re looking for on the new map? Call 310-LAND (5263).


Alberta has about 100 million acres of Crown land, including over 5 million acres of land leased for agriculture and held under agricultural dispositions. Agricultural dispositions involve collaboration between the Government of Alberta and the disposition holder to ensure that agricultural land use sustains environmental, economic and social benefits for the people of Alberta. Disposition holders are stewards of the land, and as such, they manage our land resources in a way that benefits us all. In recent years, as Alberta’s population has grown, there has been increased public interest in accessing agricultural public land for recreational use.

Recreational Access Regulation

Recreational access to agricultural public land is managed under the Recreational Access Regulation, which came into effect in 2003 to outline reasonable access for recreation on agricultural dispositions issued under the Public Lands Act, including grazing leases and farm development leases. Agricultural leases provide environmental, social and economic benefits to Albertans, including food production, habitat for wildlife and space for multiple-use activities. The Recreation Access Regulation considers both the needs of the leaseholder to protect the land and their livestock, and the desire of the recreation users for reasonable access. The regulation facilitates communication, cooperation and respect, and clarifies rules and responsibilities for agricultural leaseholders and recreational users regarding recreational access on public lands that are leased for grazing and cultivation.

It is a recreational user’s responsibility to contact the leaseholder and discuss the current conditions of access before arriving at agricultural public land. It is a leaseholder’s responsibility to allow reasonable recreational access. Both parties must work together to respect the land and follow the Recreational Access Regulation.

You can find leaseholder contact information and access conditions for agricultural dispositions on the Recreation access on agricultural public lands web map.

Learn more about leaseholder responsibilities for recreational access.

Learn more about recreational user responsibilities for recreation on agricultural public land.

  • Alberta Township Survey System

    Any parcel of land in Alberta can be located by its legal land description. This information helps leaseholders and recreational users identify a parcel of land for recreational access. Learn how this system works and how to locate a parcel of land by its legal land description.

  • Common terms

    Familiarize yourself with terms used in reference to recreational access to agricultural public land.

    Agricultural disposition

    Public land under agreement for agricultural use, including:

    • Cultivation permit (CUP)
    • Farm development lease (FDL)
    • Forest grazing license (FGL)
    • Grazing lease (GRL)
    • Grazing permit (GRP)
    • Hay permit, (HAP)
    • Head tax permit (HTG and HTW)

    Learn more

    ContactA person who has been designated by the leaseholder to respond to access requests. The contact person may or may not be the leaseholder.
    DispositionThe final legal authority for use of public land.
    Exploration RegulationThe Exploration Regulation outlines rules, provisions and stipulations related to exploration in Alberta, including on public land.
    FreeholdRefers to the ownership status of a parcel of land. Freehold land is privately owned by an individual or company (not owned by the government).
    Land DescriptionA standard method of identifying specific parcels of land according to the Alberta Township Survey incorporating Meridian, Ranges, Townships, Sections, or Plan, Blocks, and Lots.
    LayersDigital information that appears on the map as images. When using the Recreational Access Website, the appropriate box in the legend must be checked off to view the layer.
    Metes and boundsThe description of the boundaries a parcel of land by measurement distance and natural or man-made boundaries.
    Public LandProvincial lands owned by the provincial government and administered under the authority of the Public Lands Act.
    Quarter sectionA square parcel of land consisting of four legal subdivisions, containing approximately 160 acres.
    RangesBetween the meridians are columns called ranges that are numbered in consecutive order moving westward from each meridian.
    Recreational access management planGovernment approved plan that specifies conditions of recreational use on public land.

    The recreational access management plan can include a limit for the number of recreational users accessing the area and other conditions to protect the land from overuse.
    SectionA square parcel of land consisting of four quarter sections containing approximately 640 acres.
    TownshipRows that cross meridians and ranges, starting at the U.S. Border with #1 and ending at the Northwest Territories Border with #126. (Usually approximately 6 miles apart.)


To connect with one of our rangeland agrologists for further information about recreational access on agricultural public land in Alberta, see the contact list at: Land Management – Contacts.

If you have questions about access to agricultural public land for recreation, contact 310-LAND (5263).