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AWA Wilderness & Wildlife Defenders: Protect Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area in Northeast Alberta

May 2, 2014

The beautiful, ecologically significant groundwater-fed wetlands of northeast Alberta’s Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area are threatened by a proposed nearby residential development. Lac La Biche County Council recently voted to postpone a re-zoning decision to further consider environmental impacts to the Garner Orchid Fen. Please take a minute to write to the Mayor to urge stronger long-term protection of this important Natural Area.
         –  Carolyn Campbell, AWA Conservation Specialist

The Issue

Lac La Biche County is considering re-zoning 88 acres of lands east of Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area for residential development. Residential development could divert, deplete or pollute the shallow groundwater that sustains these wetlands. Unchecked off-road vehicle access from nearby residents and visitors could destroy the sensitive wetlands.

To its credit, LLB Council recently passed a motion to postpone the re-zoning decision “to allow Administration to bring forward options for accommodating the environmentally sensitive areas as well as the new development.” However, we remain concerned that accommodating residential development near the Garner Orchid Fen will bring very intensive pressures harmful to the fen.

Background

Garner Orchid Fen was established in 2004 as a Natural Area because of the vision of a dedicated naturalist and former Mayor of Lac La Biche, the late Tom Maccagno. These delicate groundwater-fed forested wetlands have a unique beauty and the rare opportunity to see 11 distinct Alberta orchid species. Since 2011, AWA has organized an annual June hike into Garner Orchid Fen, introducing the fascinating orchid-rich wetlands to many Albertans.

Lac La Biche County Council has been asked to rezone 88 acres of land east of the Fen from Agricultural to Estate Residential. Councillors recently voted to postpone their decision, which creates an opportunity for Albertans to ask that they use their land use powers for stronger long-term protection of this sensitive and significant Natural Area.

Take Action

Please write Lac La Biche County Council members:

  • Thank them for postponing the re-zoning decision to better consider impacts to the Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area
  • Ask them to sustain the Garner Orchid Fen in the long term by:
  •         planning residential development farther away from these sensitive, significant wetlands and leave the area near the Garner Fen as agriculture-zoned.
  •        

  • conducting independent (rather than proponent-led) groundwater and wetlands studies of the Fen, in conjunction with Alberta Parks.
  •        

  • enhancing protection of the Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area from future harmful impacts as the area’s population grows.

Please write Lac La Biche County Mayor Aurel Langevin (aurel.langevin@laclabichecounty.com) and ask that your letter be distributed to other Council members and County staff. And please copy AWA at ccampbell@abwild.ca.

Thank you for taking action!

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A healthy relationship to the wilderness is not in the least incompatible with civilized living. Indeed, I believe it to be an indispensable condition thereof; that no man is truly civilized unless he is involved in and cares for the wilderness.
- Ashley Montagu, 1969
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