The 5E's Management Framework

The 5E's is a framework for managing recreation on public land. It ensures that a balanced approach with a variety of elements from each of the 5E's are implemented to ensure the goals of the SSRP are ultimately achieved.

The 5E's have been borrowed from the 4E's used by the National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) who have successfully used this framework to manage recreation on public land.


The 5E's

Experience – Master trail planning that incorporates ecological, social and trail sustainability while providing the Experience Albertan's desire.

Engineering – Budget and Implementation capability to create sustainable trails, not just re-use unsustainable existing linear disturbances.

Education – Ensure users know what to expect, what to do, and their responsibilities on the trails.

Enforcement – Use enforcement to ensure user compliance with the plan.

Evaluation – Continuously improve the plan.


The problem with the draft of the SSRP

The current draft of the SSRP suggests that Access Management Plans will be implemented to manage recreation on Public Land. Access Management Plans are overly simple management tools that have not been successful in Alberta at meeting the Land Management Goals nor meeting Albertan's recreational needs. Specifically the problems with Access Management Plans are:

  • They require the re-use of existing linear disturbances on the land that were not necessarily engineered as sustainable recreational trails and may not provide the experiences desired by recreational users.
  • The only management tool for Land Managers in an Access Management Plan is to declare a particular trail as Open or Closed, meaning that the only available response to Trail problems is change the Access, which means 'Closure'.


Recommendations for the SSRP

We recommend that the SSRP outline the development of a Recreation Management Plan for each Public Land Use Zone based on the 5E's Management Framework. Specifically, we recommend the following be included in the next draft of the SSRP.


Trails and Conservation

Recreational Trails need not be incompatible with conservation. While it may have been in the past by using Access Management Plans to manage motorized recreation, it does not have to be when using the 5E's Management Framework.

Most Albertans, including motorized users, enjoy our backcountry because the rivers are clean, there are fish in the waters, and animals in the forests. We genuinely value our backcountry and wish to preserve it, therefore we request that the SSRP include a new management framework to ensure that these natural areas are preserved for all Albertans.

There are several examples where recreation, including motorized recreation on sustainable trails, is managed in sensitive conservation areas. For Example, the US National Parks Service allows 4 wheel drive vehicles to use trails in several National Parks, including Canyonlands Park in Utah and Death Valley in California. These parks use the 5E's to sustainably manage motorized recreation in a conservation area.


The 5E's at Work

Banff National Park is an iconic example of the 5E's at work to manage recreation. While there is no motorized trail use in Banff, people enjoying the park use motorized transportation in their recreational experience.

Experience: The origins of Banff are with the Banff Springs, and recognition that bathing in the Springs is the type of 'Experience' that people are seeking. Over the years this Experience has expanded to hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, skiing, shopping, and conferences.

Engineering: Initial Engineering included access via the railroad, the original cave and basin facilities, and Banff Springs Hotel. This has expanded to highways, town sites, ski hills, power generation at a man-made hydro electric dam, water and wastewater treatment plants, and recently a divided highway with wildlife overpasses.

Education: Parks Canada stops and educates every visitor to the park, hands out brochures, and has a constant presence in the park through signage while Park Rangers continuously educate visitors on appropriate expectations and responsibilities for using the Park.

Enforcement: Where Education ends Enforcement begins, and those friendly Park Rangers and other Peace officers are empowered to enforce the rules as appropriate.

Evaluation: Over the years, the priorities have changed, understanding of conservation has changed, technology has changed, and the Experience expectations of Canadians have changed. Through Evaluation, the other E's are reviewed and amended as needed.


Focus on the Trails, Not the Trail Users

Our focus as Trail Stewards is to focus on the sustainability of the trails themselves, and not to debate how the trails are used. 100 years ago, people could not imagine the recreational use that their old mining roads would see, nor can we predict how generations 100 years from now will use the trails. What we do know is that our 100-year-old trails will still be here 100 years from now, and our responsibility is to ensure that the trails are sustainable with minimal impact on our valued watersheds and wildlife.