Primrose - Lakeland Concerns
Lakeland faces numerous threats from intense petroleum development, logging, encroaching settlements, and high-impact recreation such as OHV use. Extensive degradation from extractive industries is currently evident. Parts of the region overlie both natural gas fields and the Cold Lake oil sands deposit. As a result, high densities of well sites are located throughout, while subsurface leases for petroleum and natural gas occupy roughly one-third of the area. Old-growth forests in the region are particularly at risk as Alberta’s Operating Ground Rules target old-growth “decadent” stands. The fish stocks of many of the area’s lakes are depleted from commercial fishing operations, and hunting and trapping activities continue.
- The rate of loss/environmental change of old-growth forest in Lakeland between 1949/50 and 1995 was greater than that of Amazonia.
- North of Lakeland is the 58,000 km2 of Crown land allocated to the Alberta Pacific pulp mill for their Forest Management Agreement (FMA).
- The southern part of the FMA borders both the Provincial Park and the Provincial Recreation Area. As part of its certification through the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada, Al-Pac has formally committed to defer from logging on 5,107 ha north of the Park and PRA boundaries for the next five years.
- AWA remains concerned about logging in this area because of the self-perpetuating, old-growth mixedwood forest, which provides excellent habitat for neotropical birds, and because of popular hiking trails in this area.
Oil and Gas
- Intense oil and gas development continues in the Lakeland region. Existing leases are honoured in the Park and PRA.
- Officially, no new leases can be granted for surface disturbance within these areas, but the greater Lakeland area has extensive linear disturbance from seismic lines and right-of-ways.
- Companies operating in the area include Spiral Resources, Canadian Natural Resources, Ranchgate Energy, Candor Investments, Acclaim Energy West, Encana, Petrofund, Landsolutions, Windfall Resources, and Scott Land and Lease.
- Exploration for oil and gas is of paramount concern to AWA because of damaging practices such as forest clearing for construction of well sites, gas plants, compressor stations, pipelines, and access roads. Such construction can lead to increased sedimentation in watercourses resulting in destruction of fish habitat and contamination of water and soils by oil or gas leaks. Well blowouts and gas flaring pose additional problems for ecosystems, wildlife, and human health in the area.
- OHV use is permitted in both the Park and the PRA, as well as in the surrounding area.
- OHV use is of concern to AWA as it can lead to vegetation damage, soil erosion and compaction, damage to water crossings and streambeds, and noise pollution, which can disrupt sensitive wildlife populations, especially during critical times like breeding and nesting.
- In the transition between Alberta’s Green and White Zones, marginal forestlands, which are often of great importance for biodiversity, are converted to agricultural cropland. Often this conversion results in deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and the loss of wetlands.
- Hunting, trapping, recreational and commercial fishing continue within Lakeland. Due to increasing fishing pressure in some of the area’s more accessible lakes, fishery stocks are declining.
- Boating and supersonic jets flights during sensitive nesting and breeding times for water birds also affect the health of wetland ecosystems.