Cattle grazing has occurred in Blackfoot since the 1920’s; the Blackfoot Grazing Association was formed in 1948.

Prior to Euro-Canadian settlement, the area was used by various native bands for hunting. Camps were established on Cooking and Beaverhill Lakes.

In the 1880’s, the area was part of the Beaverhills Timber Reserve established by the federal government. In the mid-1890s, fires lit by homesteaders escaped on several occasions and burned the white spruce forests of the area.

In 1899, the Beaverhills Timber Reserve was reduced in size and renamed the Cooking Lake Forest Preserve.

Domestic grazing began in the area in the1920s. More forest fires burned through the area early in that century, particularly in 1924 and 1929. In 1931, the federal government turned the area over to the province of Alberta. After World War II, logging of the spruce forests declined, in large measure because little spruce forest remained. The last logging permit was granted in 1967.

The Blackfoot Grazing Association was formed in 1948. The Alberta government came to view the area as grazing land and began clearing the upland deciduous forests in the 1950s. Conflicts later arose between grazing interests and other people as cattle ranged widely in the absence of fences.

The grazing association recognized the “need for improved grazing within the area”… and that “a grazing association lacks the authority to deal with the pressures of recreational land use” and requested that the provincial government develop and operate Blackfoot as a provincial grazing reserve.

The major fenced pasture development took place in 1987 with clearing of thousands of hectares of forests and development of pastures seeded with agricultural species.

Taken from
by Kevin Timoney and Anne Robinson
Treeline Ecological Research
5 March 1998