The recent pipeline spill of over 9.5 million litres of industrial waste water north of Zama City raises disturbing questions regarding the Alberta ERCB timeliness when informing the public about this kind of incident. Despite the fact that the spill was first reported to the Government of Alberta by Apache Canada Ltd. on June 1, it was another ten days before this knowledge became public. Even then it was only after the spill was reported to a television station that any government announcement was forthcoming.
Stay Out of the Water: Toxic Tailings Ponds and Threats to Wildlife | Caribou Protection in Jasper National Park: A Tale of Two Ski Areas | Logging to Supply Timber vs. Logging to Supply Water: Is there a Difference? | Greater Sage-Grouse: Failing Them Shouldn’t Be An Option | Conservation Forecast for the Rocky Mountain Parks: Partly Sunny Risk of Thunderstorms
2013-06-11 AWA Wilderness & Wildlife Defenders: Help shine a light on more clearcutting in Alberta’s forests
Dear Wilderness Defender: AWA is asking you to help shine a light on a “science experiment” proposed for the headwaters of Alberta’s Castle that AWA believes to be misguided. The purpose behind the project is to conduct “research on the impacts of forest management strategies on watershed values in the eastern slopes headwaters region.” Simply put, the plan is to clearcut the slopes, while measuring water volumes in the creek to see whether this causes runoff levels to increase, in essence “creating” water.
Latest numbers from the provincial government show that 15 more grizzlies died in Alberta last year, bringing to 195 the total number killed in the last decade (or almost 28 percent of the known population). This is far, far too many in a province where the latest official numbers show only 700 total bears province-wide (well below internationally-recognized thresholds for sustainable populations). The majority of grizzly deaths last year were likely due to the proliferation of roads, trails, pipelines and other forms of backcountry access. Province-wide the level of access to grizzlies’ backcountry habitat significantly exceeds the maximums established in the government’s 2008 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.
AWA has recently been apprised of the application made by Badlands Motorsports Resort to have their Area Structure Plan adopted by Kneehill County under Bylaw 1597. We believe the proposal will have negative impacts on important and environmentally significant areas. The proposed resort is situated at the edge of the Rosebud River , and the intended development will overlap with the undisturbed coulees and riparian areas along that river that form a part of the Drumheller Badlands. These undisturbed natural areas form an ecologically sensitive area that is important to the natural well-being of this province, its wildlife and wild waters, and are not an appropriate place for a development of this scope and magnitude.
It has come to our attention that an RV development proposal before the county of Lac Ste. Anne will be situated near the breeding and nesting habitat of Western Grebes at Lake Isle, Alberta. We believe the proposal will have negative impacts on important and environmentally significant areas. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) lists Western Grebes as “Sensitive” and notes: “Locally distributed in the province; their gregarious nature make them vulnerable to nest disturbance, and other disturbances such as oil spills.” Not only will these sensitive grebes be at risk from the proposed disturbance associated with the development; we believe other species may also be impacted.
Alberta’s Eastern Slopes forests between the mountains and the grasslands have ecological importance far greater than their physical area. Healthy forests serve an invaluable role in collecting, storing and filtering water, and slowly releasing it into creeks and rivers. Once, management of these forested lands placed a firm priority on the production of a sustained and healthy water supply. More recently, this management priority has been undermined, and the primary use of forests has become the production of a sustained supply of timber. Native fish populations including endangered bull trout and West Slope cutthroat trout need healthy forests. They need the cold, clear, shady headwater creeks that sensitive forest management provides. We need to return to a model of ecosystem-based forest management that nurtures Alberta’s headwaters. Only then will we have a truly functioning ecosystem that will supply clean water for all Albertans to enjoy.
2013-05-15 AWA News Release: Time for Alberta Forest Industry to Stop Logging Critical Caribou Habitat
As the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) marks its three year anniversary at the end of this week, companies are still logging in threatened Alberta caribou habitat. CBFA promised to accelerate protection of caribou and other boreal species at risk, but even though it was signed by most of Alberta’s forest industry, it has not delivered in Alberta. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) and Keepers of the Athabasca call on the forestry industry to stop logging in Alberta critical caribou habitat until sustainable populations are attained.
2013-05-07 Habitat Conservation in Canada - Presentation to Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
On May 7 2013, AWA was invited to give a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee is undertaking a study on habitat conservation in Canada to find ways in which the National Conservation Plan can complement and enhance current habitat conservation efforts. It was in recognition of AWA’s longstanding productive work on the ground in this part of the country that our input and advice was sought.
For the first time, Alberta is deferring the sale of new mineral rights across the entire range of two of its fifteen caribou herds until Cabinet first adopts range plans describing how critical habitat will be protected to recover those two populations. In a letter yesterday to Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes stated that effective immediately, new mineral rights sales will be halted across the Little Smoky and A La Peche herd ranges northeast of Jasper National Park until range plans are approved in 2014. AWA welcomes this decision by the Redford government as a good first step in the survival chances of these two caribou herds.
This week is National Volunteer Week and for the 71st year Canadians are taking a few moments to celebrate volunteers across the nation. This note of appreciation offers you a very sincere thank you from all of us at AWA. You are one of 241 volunteers on AWA's active roster, making a difference every day Defending Wild Alberta through Awareness and Action.
With the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) draft being due out sometime later this year, we ask you to take a few minutes out of your day to let the government know how much you value Alberta's wildlands, wild life and wild waters. Please help provide an alternative to those voices clamouring for motorized recreation in our forests and headwaters.
Today the Alberta government will once again violate its own caribou policy and the federal caribou recovery strategy by auctioning yet more new oil and gas leases in the ranges of threatened Alberta caribou, including in the Little Smoky range that is more than 95% disturbed. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) calls on the government to cease this irresponsible energy development approach and act on its promises to maintain and restore caribou habitat.
2013-04-12 AWA News Release: Calgarians Set to Discover their Wild Side at the Calgary Tower this Earth Day
The Best Earth Day Event in the West will start at the sound of the horn at 0800 on April 20th, 2013. 2,000 Albertans and folks from across North America will be celebrating Alberta’s wild side at the 22nd Annual Climb and Run for Wilderness.
Decisions on Alberta’s wolf population are being made by local authorities with public funds and hunting groups with funding from foreign special interest groups, and the Alberta government seems unwilling, or unable, to do anything to intervene. Details revealed in a recent Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) application made by Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) point to outdated and inappropriate wildlife policy and legislation in Alberta.
The Alberta government is selling new petroleum and natural gas lease sales in five threatened caribou range areas in March 2013, including in an auction that closes today, despite already unacceptably high industrial disturbance of caribou habitat in those areas. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) calls on the Alberta government to cease new surface leasing and new disturbance permits in Alberta caribou ranges and to make good on its promises to maintain and restore caribou habitat.
2013-03-19 ENGO News Release: Conservation groups challenge secrecy around endangered Greater Sage-grouse
The Minister of Environment has a mandatory duty under the Species at Risk Act to protect Canada’s endangered Greater sage-grouse and cannot use a claim of Cabinet confidence to eliminate court supervision of ministers’ actions under federal law, Ecojustice will tell the Federal Court of Appeal this afternoon.
AWA notes with approval comments made by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) spokesperson Nikki Booth. In a story carried by the Canadian Press, Booth reaffirms that “right now we aren’t considering any sort of grizzly hunt.” This assertion is consistent with the message previously given by AESRD. It also reaffirms a commitment to the guidelines in their own grizzly Recovery Strategy that lay out the conditions that must exist before any hunt is resumed -- conditions that have not currently been met.
Wild Lands Advocate article, December 2012, by Dr. Kevin Timoney. Timoney presents a case study of a prescribed burn near Saskatchewan River Crossing, and looks at the rare plant communities in the area, comparing the health and threats to those communities both before (in 2007) and after (in 2009 and 2011) the burn. He finishes by making recommendations to the government regarding the future of the prescribed burn program.
Canada’s National Parks: We Celebrated Them in 2011, Eviscerated Them in 2012 | Access to Environmental Information in Alberta: Where are we today? | A Private Little Matter: What’s Happening in Hidden Creek? | Celebrating the Good Things We’ve Done | Cardston County: Composting Cows to Conserve Carnivores
It’s too early to be calling for a reinstatement of the grizzly bear hunt in southern Alberta, says a coalition on groups working toward the population’s recovery. Government policy sets out the conditions under which a resumption of a hunt may be considered. Those conditions do not yet exist.
Wild Lands Advocate article, December 2012, by Christyann Olson. Roger Creasey was a good friend to AWA, and to Wild Alberta. We pay honour to Roger, his memory and his many accomplishments in this eulogy.
It is a matter of great concern that reports of increased grizzly sightings in 2012 over previous years, especially on private lands in the southwest corner of the province, have led to calls from area residents for a resumption of the grizzly hunt. While AWA acknowledges that grizzly populations in that corner of the province may be on the rise, we caution that there remains a large gap between this localized increase, and the conditions needed to justify a resumption of the hunt that was suspended for very good reasons.
Wild Lands Advocate article, December 2012, by Katie Rasmussen. The ABMI is an organization tasked with rapidly improving our knowledge of biological diversity in Alberta. This knowledge is an invaluable tool to use in the crafting of land-use planning and land management strategies. Rasmussen reports on some of the research being undertaken by the ABMI in the Willmore Wilderness Provincial Park.
Wild Lands Advocate update, December 2012, by Carolyn Campbell. Report on the presentation made by the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition - a group that includes AWA - to a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment panel. That presentation was made in opposition to Shell's expansion proposal for its Jackpine bitumen mine.