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Public Lands Dispositions

Bighorn Country Protective Notations (PNTs)

Bighorn Country is a proposal for a mix of parks and public lands that will conserve important and unique natural landscapes while encouraging economic, recreation and tourism opportunities. The area includes all public lands located in the western part of the North Saskatchewan Region from the boundary of Banff National Park, eastward towards Drayton Valley, and includes Clearwater County, most of Brazeau County and the current Bighorn Backcountry management area.

These PNTs protect the management intent of proposed parks and protected areas within Bighorn Country and considers the need to protect headwaters, sensitive landscapes, and numerous important species. These PNTs do not impact existing public lands dispositions and provide direction to applicants for new public lands disposition applications on permitted and restricted activities.

The goal is to ensure safe and positive outdoor recreation and tourism experiences, protect critical headwaters and the environment, and continue to support the opportunities this area provides to Albertans.

Further information can be found at:


For information on Bighorn Country please contact us at:

For information on these PNTs please contact us at:

Changes to the Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions (MSSC) and the PLAR Tables A1 and A2

Effective November 22, 2018 (after business hours) changes will be made to the MSSC, PLAR Table A1: AEP Public Land Dispositions, and PLAR Table A2: AER Public Land Dispositions.

Further information can be found at:

Changes to File Number for Consultation (FNC) Requirements

Effective October 29, 2018 changes will be made to the level of File Number for Consultation (FNC) required when submitting applications for public lands dispositions administered by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

Further information can be found at:

Disposition Management Overview

Public lands dispositions are regulated by two key pieces of legislation and administered by Environment and Parks (AEP) (the Department) and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) (the Agency).

Sections from a number of other pieces of legislation have relevance, depending on the land location and activity planned.

The Department and the Agency are committed to providing the public with information needed to determine if an application for a public land disposition is needed, and, if it is, provide information, tools, information technology systems and forms to help with the application process.

These webpages are intended to ensure that all parties and stakeholders have access to and use the same information for the processes and requirements defined in legislation.

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Definition of Public Lands and Ownership

Public lands administered under the Public Lands Act means "land of the Crown in right of Alberta" (Public Lands Act: Section 1(p)).

Under the Public Lands Act: Section 3, the Government of Alberta owns the beds and shores of most permanent naturally occurring rivers, streams, watercourses, lakes, and other water bodies in the province (shorelands). For more information refer to:

Water body is defined in the Water Act, Section (1)(ggg) as "any location where water flows or is present, whether or not the flow or the presence of water is continuous, intermittent or occurs only during a flood, and includes but is not limited to wetlands and aquifers but does not include except for clause (nn) and section 99 "water body" that is part of an irrigation works if the" irrigation works is subject to a licence and the irrigation works is owned by the licensee, unless the regulations specify that the location is included in the definition of water body."

Public Lands Administration through Dispositions

Administration of public lands includes controlling "Rights of Access," "Surface Rights" and "Subsurface Rights" (mineral rights). The Department and the Agency manage the use of public lands for all Albertans through the issuance of dispositions. A disposition must be obtained under the Public Lands Act for any access to or activity on public lands and in compliance with the Public Lands Administration Regulation.

The Public Lands Act (Section 1(e)) states "disposition" means any instrument executed pursuant to this Act, the former Act, The Provincial Lands Act, RSA 1942 c62, or the Dominion Lands Act (Canada), RSC 1927 c113, whereby

  1. any estate or interest in land of the Crown, or
  2. any other right or privilege in respect of land of the Crown that is not an estate or interest in land, is or has been granted or conveyed by the Crown to any person, but does not include a grant.

All public lands is administered by the Department and the Agency "except that public land that is, by virtue of any other Act or an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, under the administration of another Minister of the Crown or of a Crown corporation" (Public Lands Act: Section 2(2)).

Road allowances are owned by the Government of Alberta. If the road allowance has been surveyed, it is administered by Transportation and in some cases a municipality. If it has not been surveyed, it is labeled a "Theoretical Road Allowance" and is administered by the Department under the Public Lands Act.

List of public lands under the jurisdiction of other Government of Alberta Departments, Agencies or Governments:

  • Canadian Forces bases (except Cold Lake and Wainwright Weapons Ranges, but require appropriate Supplement documents)
  • Metis Settlements
  • National Parks
  • Special Areas
  • Treaty First Nations Lands

An Order-in-Council was used to set aside or give an interest in Alberta public lands to Canada for purposes such as national defence. The Department and the Agency do administer public lands within the Cold Lake and Wainwright Air Weapons Range, understanding the applicant must ensure through contact with Department of National Defense (Canada) for consent of that activity.


Several resources are available to help guide you through the public lands disposition application process

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Alberta Public Lands Glossary of Terms

There are many words used in managing dispositions which have very specific meanings and provide information required for an application. The Department has developed definitions for the common terms used in managing dispositions.

Disposition Application e-Course

An online e-Course has been developed to help guide users through the disposition application process from start to finish.

Disposition Application Information

For more information on determining if you need a public lands disposition and the application process refer to:

Master Schedule of Standards and Conditions (MSSC)

For more information on conditions, best management practices, and desired outcomes refer to:

Pre-Application Requirements for Formal Dispositions

For more information on AEP’s application requirements please refer to:


For additional information on disposition management or questions about applying for a disposition, contact:

AEP Information Centre
Alberta: 310-3773
Toll free: 1 877-944-0313

AER Customer Contact Centre
Alberta: 403 297-8311
Toll free: 1 855 297-8311
Fax: 403 297-7336

Note: The information on these webpages has been developed to be consistent with Legislation, Orders in Council, Ministerial Orders, Codes of Practice, Treaties/Agreements, Policies, Frameworks, Strategies, Plans and other approved documents which provide direction on implementing legislation. Should the Legislation or any of these documents be amended, or it is found that there is a discrepancy between the information provided through these pages and Legislation, the Legislation shall prevail.

Please ensure you read the most current relevant legislation and other regulatory documents. The onus is on you, the applicant, to ensure you are in compliance with these.


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Updated: Dec 3, 2018