UCP announces conservation plans including annual fee for off-highway vehicles

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney in a Postmedia file photo. Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

A UCP government would introduce legislation to protect trails and institute a $30 annual fee for off-highway vehicles and random camping trailers, says party leader Jason Kenney.

“We don’t believe that preservation of the natural environment, enjoying it for recreation and responsible economic usage are opposed to one another,” he said at a Thursday news conference in Canmore, where he rolled out a 13-point plan on environmental stewardship.

Kenney said he also wants to increase funding for a provincial land trust program by 50 per cent, for a total of of $15 million annually, and set aside $2 million over for years for not-for-profit societies that work to maintain parks.

The Alberta land trust grant program helps land trust organizations establish and administer conservation projects.

The proposed legislation, dubbed the Alberta Trails Act, would increase awareness and encourage sustainable use of trails, Kenney added.

“This is the beginning of our common sense conservation plan for Alberta,” he said.

An additional $1 million would go to a program that helps ranchers stop livestock from damaging creeks and streams, he said.

The plan is the latest platform promise from the UCP, which has been steadily rolling out ideas ranging from health-care reforms to immigration policies.

Kenney said he will unveil plans to control carbon emissions in the coming weeks.

The NDP currently funds provincial programs aimed at reducing emissions and increasing renewable energy projects with the carbon tax, which the UCP has vowed to repeal.

Kenney promised to preserve and maintain funding for programs such as the Alberta wetland policy, and the watershed resiliency and restoration program.

He also said the United Conservatives will roll out a policy related to environmental cleanup by the energy industry.

“We’ll be talking about the issue of abandoned wells and the need for well reclamation,” he said. “There are no easy solutions but we’ll be speaking to that with a very specific program to be announced in the future.”