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Fish and Game Association opposes Jason Kenney's proposal to sell Crown land

Another group has come out against United Conservative leader Jason Kenney's proposal to sell public land in northwestern Alberta to help balance the province's books.

Alberta Fish and Game Association says the land is important for wildlife survival

Jason Kenney speaks to the media at his first convention as leader of the United Conservative Party in May. Another group has come out against United Conservative leader Jason Kenney's proposal to sell public land in northwestern Alberta to help balance the province's books. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Another group has come out against United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney's proposal to sell public land in northwestern Alberta to help balance the province's books.

Kenney floated the idea last month at a Rural Municipalities Association meeting, saying the land in the Peace River region is "unproductive" and could be sold for agricultural use.

The Alberta Fish and Game Association isn't against agriculture, but says Crown land is important for the survival of fish, wildlife and biodiversity.

"As soon as you turn native or public lands into agriculture, you completely destroy the habitat that it contains," said President Doug Butler. "The soil all gets turned up and bingo — your native land is gone and access for Albertans is gone and habitat for wildlife is gone."

Butler is urging people to contact the UCP or their MLA to let them know how they feel about the proposal.

We want the wildlife to have a place to live and we want Albertans to have a place to go.- Doug Butler, Alberta Fish and Game Association

Butler said he disagrees with Kenney's statement that the land in the Peace River region is "unproductive."

"Every inch of Crown land is important," Butler said. "We don't want to see any of it sold privately. We want the wildlife to have a place to live and we want Albertans to have a place to go."

Last month, Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey said he takes issue with Kenney calling the land unproductive, saying it's where Indigenous people have treaty rights to fish and hunt.

Noskey said Kenney's plan would see part of the traditional territory of many First Nations in the area sold off to private owners, removing the natural habitat for many animals.

"Each time a piece of land is sold to private owners a beautiful natural area is destroyed, land that both First Nations need and Albertans can enjoy," he said. "We need to make sure we are preserving as much as possible for future generations."

The Fish and Game Association is also concerned that Kenney has said he wants to make quick decisions on big issues without consulting people if the United Conservatives form government next spring.

"It is government's responsibility to steward the land for all Albertans; an action that does not involve selling it," Butler said Wednesday in a release. "Consultation is the backbone of democracy."

Butler said in 2011, the former Progressive Conservative government quietly auctioned Crown land that virtually no one knew of until the sale was completed.

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