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The Two O'Clock Ridge near Cline, Alta., is seen in an undated handout photo.Adam Linnard /The Canadian Press

The Alberta government says it will spend more than $1-million to upgrade facilities in the province’s west-central backcountry that has experienced a huge increase in usage.

Critics say the money is inadequate to cope with tens of thousands of random campers in the Bighorn region every weekend, who often leave garbage, damaged sites and human waste behind.

The Bighorn region’s almost 5,000 square kilometres hold lakes, mountains, streams and forests and stretch from the community of Nordegg to the Jasper-Banff Highway.

Late Wednesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon announced spending for outhouses, trail improvements and safety measures.

Marlin Schmidt, parks critic for the New Democrats, welcomes the announcement, but calls it a symbolic gesture in comparison to what’s required.

Mr. Schmidt notes the previous NDP government had proposed a provincial park for the area that included $40-million in infrastructure improvements.

Local outfitter Lorne Hindbo, who sits on a provincial supervisory committee for the Bighorn, says pressure on the area isn’t likely to let up and facilities will need to be improved and expanded.

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