June 28, 2016
Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve, at the southern tip of Kananaskis Country, is like nowhere else in Alberta.
AWA’s vision for Plateau Mountain is that it remains protected to preserve its natural heritage in an undisturbed state, by phasing out oil and gas and eliminating any threats to its Ecological Reserve designation. AWA is a volunteer steward of Plateau Mountain and works with Alberta Environment and Parks staff as well as the operators of the oil and gas operations towards the best possible conservation of this remarkable mountain ecosystem. AWA’s Fact Sheet has more details and a map of the area.
Its broad wind-swept summit supports a remarkable variety of wildflowers and geological features, with stunning vistas across the mountains and foothills.
AWA staff and volunteers lead a stewardship trip to Plateau Mountain to remove garbage, document changes from the previous year, and enjoy spectacular scenery.
AWA takes three stewardship trips into Plateau Mountain. In October, evidence of OHV tracks is noted beyond the boundary sign. A separate visit in October confirms there was no signage at the locked gate indicating that it is an Ecological Reserve. In November, AWA returns to place signs, pick up trash, and eliminate illegal camp sites. In each visit, abundant evidence of wildlife is noted.
Suncor sells a large proportion of its gas business – including the Savanna and Sullivan fields – to Centrica (Direct Energy) and Qatar Petroleum International (QPI). The implications for those two fields (which include infrastructure throughout southern Kananaskis Country) remain unclear. Both fields are currently shut in, following the closure of Devon’s Coleman gas plant in 2012. This could even see the closure of the one remaining gas well on top of Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve.
Gas production at Plateau Mountain, and the entire Savanna field, is shut in indefinitely due to the closure of Devon’s Coleman gas plant.
The University of Calgary’s Stuart Harris publishes a report, Climate Change and Permafrost Stability in the Eastern Canadian Cordillera: the Results of 33 Years of Measurements. Harris studied the depth of permafrost – the permanently frozen layer below ground – at a series of sites, including Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve. Some of Harris’ findings are surprisingly counter-intuitive. Average surface temperatures at Plateau Mountain have actually decreased – by 0.49 degrees – over 31 years. And whereas in 1977 you would have had to dig 22 metres to reach the permafrost layer, by 2007 that frozen layer had increased until it was just 13 metres below the surface.
Alberta Wilderness Association becomes a Volunteer Steward
Management Plan for Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve is published.
Terms of Reference for Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve Management Plan approved by Ecological Reserves Steering Committee
Plateau Mountain is upgraded from a Natural Area to an Ecological Reserve, due in part to a cooperative relationship between AWA and Husky Energy.
The Ecological Reserve Steering Committee submits a report proposing the designation of Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve along with 13 other sites.
Kananaskis Country is established, but entire area not given park protection. 57% has no type of park protection. The province’s 1986 integrated resource management plan specifies the objective for Kananaskis Country as “to preserve the environmental and aesthetic quality of Kananaskis Country and create recreational development that is expressive of the unique natural quality.”
Plateau Mountain Natural Area established around the ice cave.
Plateau Mountain Ice Cave identified as a fragile and unique feature requiring protection.
Husky Energy Inc. operated wells on Plateau Mountain.
October 30, 2015