Signs of the Times

by Reuben Middel, Outreach Assistant

Heads up! Are you headed for the mountains this weekend? See how many of these signs you can spot. Whether you’re out camping, hiking, biking, fishing, or just going for a drive, these signs are there for you, serving as reminders or serving up fun educational facts. Know before you go and get reminded while you’re out.


Whirling Disease

This yellow and black sign should be visible along most riverbanks in Public Land zones. As Whirling Disease has become a more prominent issue this past spring, new signs have been posted. These signs give information and warn anglers and boaters to clean drain dry their equipment after they enjoy the water. Learn more at:

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Fire Ban

The ‘Fire Ban” tells users that fires are completely banned from all random camping and designated fire pits. Only gas/propane stoves and fire pits are allowed. It’s important to note that Crown land and Public Land Use Zones can vary in these rulings. The penalty for having open fires in these conditions include fines up to $25,000 and up to 12 months in prison. For more info check out:

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Steer Clear of ponds & creeks

‘Steer Clear’ signs will be found at some river and creek crossings through the Oldman Watershed. These signs have been put in place as a visual reminder to hikers, bikers, quadders, dirt bikers, and all other backcountry users to use a bridge instead of fording the water.
The silhouettes of Westslope Cutthroat Trout remind people that even the smallest habitat change can have detrimental effects on this threatened species. Steer clear and help to protect our fish! For more information on sedimentation in fish habitat check out this link.

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Thank you for using the bridge

If you see this sign, you most likely crossed a creek using a bridge. THANK YOU! When bridges are in place, it’s important to use them because it keeps the fish happy (and alive!) and it makes everyone downstream happy. Clean water upstream means clean water downstream in our homes and backyards.  
Together with Cows and Fish and the Junior Forest Rangers, we recently installed some ‘Steer Clear’ and ‘Thank you for using the bridge’ signs on Gold Creek. If you aren’t able to see them for yourself, check them out on Flickr.

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Reclamation Area

These are red and white signs indicating that work has been done in the area to help with regrowth and restoration. It’s important that users stay clear of the area, as it’s in a fragile state, and any outside influences can impede its recovery.

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Restoration Project

The last couple of years, the Oldman Watershed Council has teamed up with other organizations in the community to restore sites through the watershed. At Hidden Creek, Caesars Flats, and Dome Creek, we have successfully built bridges, planted willows, and begun ecosystem restoration. Join us on October 14 for our next Backcountry Restoration Event; sign up to volunteer or check out our Facebook Event.

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Report It

These signs are found on kiosks and in brochures on public land. They may be red and white or blue and green. Most people think this number is for poachers only, but in fact it can be used to report any land use misconduct - whether it's a poacher or a person abusing public land with garbage or driving up and down creeks. Use this phone number and keep our public lands clean and safe! For more contact information check out

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Play Clean Go

All staging areas and trailheads should be marked with this sign, a black diamond with these three words inside. This sign serves as a reminder to backcountry users to stick to trails and clean their equipment after each use to help stop the spread of invasive species. When riding, plants will get stuck on equipment; these pieces of vegetation can hold seeds and if not cleaned, they can spread invasive species through public lands or back to the user’s own house and property.

As we go out and enjoy Alberta’s public land, it’s critical that we respect and take care of it. No matter our activity, we can have a huge impact - positive or negative - on the environment around us. Remember: It is your responsibility to Know Before You Go. Watch for signs to educate yourself as well as the people who are new to the area or new to the sport. It’s important to keep everyone informed, and while signs may seem redundant to one person, they may be eye-opening for the next.

Thanks for helping to keep our backcountry beautiful & healthy!