Recreational access to agricultural public land is managed under the Recreational Access Regulation, which clarifies the rules for recreational access on public lands leased for grazing and cultivation.
Recreational users are responsible for following the Recreational Access Regulation before and while accessing agricultural leases on public land. Learn more about recreational user responsibilities for access to agricultural public land.
Agricultural leaseholder responsibilities
Under the Recreational Access Regulation, leaseholders are required to allow reasonable recreational access to the land as long as the activity does not put the land, crops or livestock at risk.
- To learn more, review the Agricultural leaseholders and recreation fact sheet
1. Keep your contact information current
Recreational users are required to contact the leaseholder prior to accessing an agricultural lease.
To ensure recreational users are able to contact leaseholders to discuss access before arriving at the land, leaseholders can:
- keep contact information and recreational access conditions current for use on the Recreational Access Internet Mapping Tool
- specify the best time to contact them – for example, evenings only – as long as recreational users have a reasonable chance to reach the leaseholder.
Recreational users should plan a trip well in advance and expect that it could take a few days for the leaseholder to respond to the inquiry. However, recreational users should hear something within a week of their first call. It is the leaseholder’s responsibility to provide up-to-date contact information. If they do not, the province will apply a “no contact required” condition.
Updating contact information
Contact information and access conditions for leases are publicly available on the internet mapping tool. To change contact information, leaseholders can log in to the Rangeland Stewardship Audit Program online system, using their Alberta government Extern user account. If you do not have such an account, you can either:
Blank forms to change contact information are also available at local Lands offices.
Supplying contact information on the Recreational Access Internet Mapping tool is at the discretion of the leaseholder. Information supplied on the mapping tool supports recreational users in identifying and contacting leaseholders.
2. Allow reasonable recreational access
Leaseholders have a duty to allow reasonable access to the land for recreational purposes.
- To learn more, review the Agricultural Leaseholders and Recreation fact sheet.
The Recreational Access Regulation outlines reasonable access by giving the leaseholder the ability to limit access when:
- their livestock are present in the field
- their crop has not yet been harvested
- the recreational user wishes to discharge a firearm or use explosives near livestock
- the recreational user wishes to hunt unreasonably close to a fenced pasture with livestock present
- the recreational users are not on foot
- the recreational user wishes to camp
- a fire ban is in effect
- the proposed use is disallowed by a recreational management plan or a condition set by the government
Access conditions and restrictions
Leaseholders may add conditions, such as specific times when they might allow motorized vehicle access or when to contact them. Alternatively, leaseholders can specify that they do not want to be contacted prior to a visit.
If a leaseholder wants to place other conditions on access, the province will review these conditions to ensure consistency with what is allowed under the legislation.
Leaseholders cannot decide limits on the number of people who come on the land, but they can discuss the concern with a local settlement officer – and a recreational management plan or user limit may then be put in place by the department. To learn more, contact the rangeland agrologist at your local Lands office.
Both completed recreational management plans and user limits set by a local settlement officer will be included with the contact information on the Recreational Access Internet Mapping Tool.
3. Limiting access to recreational users
If access to a recreational user is limited, you should explain the reason. There are considerable repercussions for not following the Recreational Access Regulation as a leaseholder, as it can result in:
- shortened tenure
- compliance action
- cancellation of the lease
However, steps will first be taken to provide information to leaseholders and recreational users to encourage respect and co-operation. Recreational users who contravene the legislation can receive a ticket for up to $500.
While leaseholders can limit access when livestock are on the lease, they may choose to provide access when livestock are present. It is at their discretion.
Only provincial or municipal fire bans can determine if the fire risk is too high to allow access.
4. Dispute resolution
We encourage both leaseholders and recreational users to show respect for each other and the land. If there is a disagreement between the leaseholder and the recreational user, either party may contact the rangeland agrologist at the local Lands office.
The agrologist will then discuss the concern with both the leaseholder and the recreational user to find a solution. Often this type of communication and/or mediation can help to resolve the majority of issues. If an informal resolution cannot be reached, a formal dispute resolution process is available to both parties through a local settlement officer.
Recreational users are responsible for their own personal safety.
As a courtesy, the leaseholder should identify anything unusual that may have been done to the lease. For example, the leaseholder may want to notify users of any non-standard fences that may be on the property.
It is generally recommended that agricultural producers carry liability insurance whether it is private or public land.
If you have questions about getting access to agricultural public land for recreation activities, contact 310-LAND (5263).
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