December 15, 2022
The Primrose-Lakeland region is an approximately 6,000 km2 area that lies east of the town of Lac La Biche.
It is one of the best representative examples of the central mixed wood boreal forest in Alberta. In addition to its old-growth forests, Lakeland boasts one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the province. These lakes and their uplands provide critical habitat for numerous species of mammals, birds and amphibians. While the area has seen significant disturbance from settlements and extractive industries, the most extensive undisturbed areas are protected within a small provincial park.
The diverse topography and waterways of Primrose-Lakeland in the boreal central mixedwood region of northeast Alberta provides excellent habitat for many mammals, birds and amphibians. A relatively small area of 147 km2 and 443 km2 is currently designated as a Provincial Park and Recreation Area respectively. However there is no approved management plan to ensure wilderness protection is a priority in these designated areas. Currently, the remaining 5,400 km2 has no level of protection and intensive in situ oil sands and other development pressures are increasing in adjacent areas.
AWA and its members participated in public consultations for Alberta Parks’ proposal to build fixed roof cabins in Alberta’s only backcountry canoe circuit in Lakeland Provincial Park. In AWA’s view, the cabins would have increase mechanized access pressures and be a step towards urbanizing this relatively non-mechanized area. After sounding the alarm on the proposal and strong pressure from AWA and supporters, Alberta Parks decided against building the cabins in late June 2015.
AWA strongly encourages the establishment of large wildlife reserves on the Alberta side of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range compatible with military use, as Saskatchewan has already done. The relatively roadless Range could be an important refuge for species reliant on intact peat wetlands and older forests as Alberta’s southern boreal region faces severe pressures from climate change, industrial exploitation and agricultural conversion..
• Lakeland Provincial Park (147 km2) was established on January 17, 1992 by Order-in-Council 56/92. Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area (443.3 km2) was established on January 18, 1992 by Order-in-Council 55/92. The two areas combined comprise 590.3 km2, or 0.089 percent of Alberta.
• Management Plans for the Park and Provincial Recreation Area have yet to be finalized.
• Restore and maintain a healthy and intact ecosystem in Lakeland that protects watersheds and unfragmented forests, sustains viable wildlife populations, and provides long-term sustainable and diversified economic opportunities for surrounding communities.
• Finalize an ecologically sensitive Management Plan for the Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA. This Plan should prohibit aircraft from landing on any lakes; limit motorboat use to Touchwood, Pinehurst, and Seibert Lakes; limit ATV use to existing designated trails with the exception of the Mile 10 Staging Area trail. The Mile 10 trail should be designated for non-motorized use.
• Cancel or purchase existing mineral/oil and gas leases in the Park and PRA.
• Prohibit logging in the Park and PRA.
• Extend the boundaries of the Park and PRA north to the Touchwood Lake Road. Consider extending the PRA boundary east to the Sand River.
• Undertake a systematic ecological study of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range with a view to establishing one or more protected areas on the Range.
• Restore native fish stocks in the area’s lakes.
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.
(Abbreviations: CLAWR – Cold Lake Air Weapons Range)
In May, as part of the Cold Lake caribou sub-regional Task Force, AWA provides comments to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) on the draft Cold Lake sub–regional land–use plan and the associated Caribou Habitat Recovery Analysis. AWA believes that, while the plan has potential restore and consolidate industrial infrastructure, there are still key gaps that must be closed to meet Alberta’s commitment and legal obligation to achieve habitat requirements for naturally self-sustaining caribou.
In December, the federal government and Cold Lake First Nations finalize a caribou conservation agreement. The agreement’s “Shared Recovery Objective” is to “set out and confirm the actions that the Parties have agreed to take in order to support the achievement of a self-sustaining population in the Cold Lake Boreal Caribou Range, consistent with the population and distribution objectives in the [federal boreal woodland caribou] Recovery Strategy, that will support traditional Indigenous harvesting activities, consistent with existing Indigenous Rights”. This agreement is a positive step to enhance Cold Lake First Nations’ capacity and leadership to recover woodland caribou within its traditional territory in northeast Alberta and northwest Saskatchewan.
In November, the Government of Alberta launches the Cold Lake Caribou Sub-regional Task Force, a planning committee tasked with considering regional economic, access, and habitat scenarios to advise government on land-use planning at a local scale, including caribou recovery actions. The Task Force recommendations are intended to feed into a Cold Lake sub-regional land use plan for caribou recovery expected to be released by the end of 2019. AWA is an active participant in this Task Force, advocating for a Cold Lake caribou range plan that protects significant areas of the Air Weapons Range, manages other zones within disturbance limits compatible with caribou survival and recovery, and includes significant indigenous leadership and participation.
In December, the provincial government adopts a ‘catch and release’ regime for northern pike in Lakeland Provincial Park lakes, to recover populations that are not currently meeting sustainable harvest fishery objectives.
In March, the Alberta Energy Regulator released a Root Cause and Regulatory Response Report regarding the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Primrose Bitumen Emulsion Releases in 2013. AER’s investigation concluded the incident was caused by excessive steaming and have implemented steam volume limits to reduce the likelihood of a similar event occurring.
CNRL Primrose incident caused by excessive steaming; AER releases final investigation report
For immediate release.
Calgary, Alberta (March 21, 2016)…
In August, Lac La Biche County Council members decide to establish a Natural Open Space district along the eastern edge of the Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area west of Lac La Biche to help buffer effects from a recently approved nearby rural residential development
On July 2, Alberta Parks informs AWA that they were not going to move forward with the proposal to build back country cabins on the canoe circuit in Lakeland Provincial Park based on public input results.
On June 28, AWA submits comments on Proposed Camping Cabins in Lakeland Provincial Park. In AWA’s view, the proposed camping cabins will harm the backcountry wilderness character of Lakeland Provincial Park. In addition, they are completely unnecessary from an access viewpoint given the numerous nearby opportunities to enjoy fixed roof camping in RVs and rental cabins in rustic lakeside settings. AWA also sends out an action alert to members to further support the opposition of the proposal.
On May 2, AWA writes a letter to Lac La Biche County Council members and sends out an action alert regarding the ecologically significant groundwater-fed wetlands of the Garner Orchid Fen Natural Area under threat by a proposed nearby residential development. AWA urges the council members to plan residential developments farther away from these sensitive wetlands and enhance its protection from future harmful impacts as the area’s population grows.
On October 9, AWA writes a letter to Environment Canada requesting information to better understand the impacts of the bitumen releases at the CNRL Primrose operations:
1. The species of birds and number of each species that have died as a result of the CNRL Primrose releases referenced above;
2. The species of amphibians and number of each species that have died as a result of the CNRL Primrose releases referenced above;
3. The species of mammals and number of each species that have died as a result of the CNRL Primrose releases referenced above; and
4. Confirmation that the released bitumen has not entered any fish-bearing watercourses.
On September 24, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) issued an Environmental Protection Order No. EPO-2013-33/NR (EPO) to CNRL in regards to a bitumen release in a water body at the CNRL Primrose Operations.
The EPO requires that CNRL produce a number of monitoring reports with respect to the planned dewatering of the water body, including:
• a Water Body Monitoring Report to be produced by October 7, 2013 and by the first Monday of every month thereafter (EPO, s. 10);
• a Summary Report on Fish and Fish Habitat to be produced by October 30, 2013 (EPO, s. 27);
• a Summary Report on Wetlands to be produced by October 30, 2013 (EPO, s. 31);
• a Draft Summary Report on Water Body Restoration to be provided to stakeholders at least 60 days prior to CNRL requesting closure of the EPO (EPO, s. 35(a));
• a Final Summary Report on Water Body Restoration to be submitted to the Director one month prior to CNRL requesting closure of the EPO (EPO, s. 36).
Further, the EPO provides that CNRL is required to:
• communicate on at least a monthly basis to stakeholders and First Nations on the status of the site (EPO, s. 40(c));
• provide the Summary Report on Fish and Fish Habitat to stakeholders and First Nations (EPO, s. 40(e)); and
• provide the Summary Report on Wetland Impacts to stakeholders and First Nations (EPO, s. 40(f)).
On August 19, Alberta Energy Regulator declined to initiate such an inquiry but committed to enhanced transparency with respect to energy incidents in the province
On August 13, AWA joined 22 other organizations in requesting that the Alberta Energy Regulator initiate an inquiry into the safety of oil sands CSS and SAGD in-situ operations.
On August 8, AWA participates in a media tour of CNRL’s Primrose Project generating eyewitness accounts of spill impacts and concerns in subsequent Wild Lands Advocate articles and follow up communication with federal and provincial authorities on wildlife and water impacts.
On July 30, AWA released an action alert to raise awareness about the fixed roof cabin proposal in Lakeland Provincial Park and encourage AWA members to write Alberta Parks in opposition.
On July 3, AWA writes a letter opposing the urbanization of wilderness areas and the installation of fixed roof structures in remote areas such as the Lakeland backcountry canoe circuit. Concerns were raised about environmental degradation, increased access for motorized vehicles, and lack of any public consultation or discussion about this plan.
In June, reminiscent of unilateral actions taken in 2007 in High Island, Alberta Parks arranges for helicopters to drop materials to build permanent cabins on Jackson and Kinnaird Lakes in Lakeland Provincial Park, without any public consultation.
In August, The Lower Athabasca regional plan is approved by Cabinet order, without any addition to Lakeland’s protected areas. The ‘Lakeland Country’ concept is adopted as a Tourism-led initiative to “offer a full range of recreation and tourism settings and activities with a particular focus on the water-based features that are unique in Alberta, and the rich cultural and heritage resources”. A biodiversity management framework for public lands is promised by the end of 2013 to set targets for selected vegetation, aquatic and wildlife indicators. Land disturbance standards such as limits are triggers are also promised by the end of 2013.
In August, The Alberta government’s draft Lower Athabasca regional plan is released. It greatly reduces proposed new conservation areas in the southern part of the region, including dropping reference to expanding Lakeland’s protected area borders.
In August, the Lower Athabasca Regional Advisory Council’s advice to the Alberta government for the Lower Athabasca regional plan is published. It recommends extending the boundaries of Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA north of Touchwood Road and south-east to the Sand River valley. The Council consists of members drawn from oilsands and forestry companies, First Nations and Metis communities, NGOs and municipal governments. AWA supports these extensions in the subsequent public consultations.
On April 19, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park is expanded to encompass the other islands in the east basin of Lac La Biche.
On March 2-3, AWA presents ongoing research on the significant risks to groundwater from in situ (drilled) bitumen development in the region to First Nations and other community members in Lac La Biche and Cold Lake. AWA also works with other ENGOs in opposing Forest Stewardship Council re-certification for forests leased to Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac), due to little progress on caribou habitat protection and protected area opportunities generally in the region.
On July 22, Minister Ady responds to AWA’s request for including islands within Lac La Biche into Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park saying that strong local support is important for potential expansion of parks and the request will be considered carefully. When support form additional local stakeholders and residents is received, the minister will proceed to have a proposal prepared for general public consultation.
In July, AWA warns that a technique being used in the Alberta oil sands, Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), could be endangering Canada’s largest aquifer (Edmonton Journal, July 27, 2008). Numerous oil sands deposits scheduled for extraction sit below this aquifer, which could potentially be contaminated if SAGD, which uses steam to liquefy bitumen so that it can be transported, causes a blowout. AWA and the Métis Nation in northeastern Alberta are urging tighter regulation and more vigilant monitoring of SAGD operations near aquifers.
On June 18, AWA sends a letter to the Government of Alberta expressing support for the proposal to include several of the islands within Lac La Biche into Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park. In a reply letter from Tourism, Parks, and Recreation Minister Cindy Ady, the government recognizes that “the support of the Alberta Wilderness Association is an indicator that wilderness advocates in Alberta see merit in protecting all of the terrestrial habitat found within Lac La Biche.”
On May 21, more than a year after the installation of the High Island observation and communication towers, the meeting initiated by AWA finally takes place. Participants include representatives from AWA; the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, and Recreation; Lac La Biche Birding Society; Beaver Lake Cree Nation; CPAWS; and Lac La Biche County, as well as long-time Lac La Biche-based environmentalist Tom Maccagno, who first raised the alarm about the two towers.
In a refreshing and welcome admission, co-chair Dave Nielsen, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister for Parks, begins the meeting by stating that a mistake was made in not consulting the public about the installation proposal. The meeting results in the decision to complete a broader consultation and remove the tower if public opinion dictates that that is the best course of action.
On July 24, With the aim of protecting bitumen for future generation, the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) has issued Decision 2007-056, “which concludes that continued or future gas production from the Cold Lake Oil Sands Area Clearwater Formation presents an unacceptable risk to nearby bitumen resources.” In a news release, the EUB states that they will order that “122 intervals in 121 gas wells must be shut-in or not allowed to produce.”
On July 19, the Edmonton Sun reports that Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture Minister Hector Goudreau has been given a directive by Premier Ed Stelmach ordering him to develop a plan for parks and recreation in booming northern Alberta. This has revived an old idea for a Kananaskis-like park, complete with championship golf course and resort hotels, initiated by Premier Don Getty.
In May, Osum Corporation, a Calgary-based firm that owns the mineral rights below Marie Lake, announces plans to conduct a seismic survey of the area. Local residents and stakeholders are shocked at the announcement. AWA has requested a moratorium on such activities and believes that residents and stakeholders should have been informed of such plans at a much earlier stage.
In March, without any public consultation whatsoever, Parks and Protected Areas installs two communications towers in High Island Natural Area, an ecologically sensitive island in Lac La Biche. Local conservationists are extremely concerned, noting that this operation resulted in surface disturbance and shorebird habitat damage, and is in contravention of the Wilderness Areas, Ecological Reserves, Natural Areas and Heritage Rangelands Act. With the hope that this unfortunate event will trigger the establishment of an effective public consultation process, AWA initiates plans for a meeting between the Parks division and concerned Albertans.
On February 27, in a letter to the editor of the St. Paul Journal, AWA expresses frustration over comments made by Premier Stelmach in regards to the proposed extension of Hwy 881. In a meeting in St. Paul, Premier Stelmach was asked about the proposal to extend Hwy 881 through Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. “It’s an issue among the municipalities,” he replied. “The municipalities will work it out.” AWA takes the stance that provincial protected areas are not the responsibility of municipalities but of the Government of Alberta. By handing it over to local town councils, the Premier is abdicating his responsibility, showing a flagrant disregard for Albertans’ concern about endangered wilderness and refusing to acknowledge the long-term economic benefits of protected areas.
On February 14, Premier Stelmach replies to AWA’s letter of December 22, 2006 opposing the proposal to extend Hwy 881 through Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. The Premier notes only that he has forwarded the letter on to Luke Ouellette, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.
In January, to meet its FSC-certification requirements, the forestry company Al-Pac must set aside a certain percentage of its Forest Management Agreement area for protection. Al-Pac will be working toward extending the boundaries of both Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area. AWA initiated discussions on this project with Al-Pac in 2006, and Al-Pac is now expressing a desire to move forward in collaboration with AWA.
On December 22, in a letter to Premier Ed Stelmach, AWA expresses opposition to the extension of Highway 881 through Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area to Fort McMurray. AWA fears that the “cumulative effects of oil sands, conventional oil and gas, and forestry, all of which have increased access to high-impact recreation, have already robbed many future generations of the solace, beauty, recreational opportunities, and ecological services of the boreal.” In his reply, dated February 14, 2007, Premier Stelmach notes only that he has forwarded the letter on to Luke Ouellette, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.
On December 12, in his response to a letter from AWA (Nov. 15), Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Ty Lund states that his ministry “has no intention of pursuing a Highway 881 connection/extension.”
On December 8, St. Paul Mayor John Trefanenko tells AWA that the Town Council has had several meetings about the proposal to extend Highway 881, which the Town of St. Paul is initiating, and that they are hoping to meet with the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation after the Cabinet shuffle later this week.
On November 1, AWA makes a presentation to the Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA) in Bonnyville, asking them to oppose the proposed extension of Highway 881 through the Provincial Recreation Area. In a subsequent letter (Dec. 12), LICA informs AWA that they will not “provide stewardship” on this issue “at this time.”
Although the government announced in September 1996 that it was “entering the final phase of public consultation before the Management Plan is implemented,” 10 years later, and 14 years after the Park/PRA’s official designation, we are still waiting for a plan to be finalized. Ironically, this delay may enhance the prospects of maintaining the ecological integrity of Lakeland, since attitudes have changed dramatically in the last decade, with ecological integrity and sustainable development being taken much more seriously.
On August 24, representatives of AWA and Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA) meet to determine the extent to which the objectives of the two organizations overlap.
On November 16, in a news release, the Alberta government announces that it plans to invest an additional $34 million in municipal resource roads and another $116 million for provincial highways that support the resource industry.
On December 8, despite being a so-called protected area, Lakeland faces a resuscitated proposal for a new highway through the Provincial Recreation Area (PRA). Several northeastern communities, led by the Town of St. Paul, are supporting a proposal for the extension of Hwy 881 through the east side of the PRA, providing a more direct route from the St. Paul-Cold Lake area to Fort McMurray. Lakeland County opposes the proposal.
On August 23, an AWA representative meets with Ray Danyluk, MLA to express some of AWA’s concerns about the Lakeland area. In a follow-up letter dated September 14, 2006, AWA expresses opposition to changing the name of “Lakeland” to “Ralph Klein Provincial Park” in light of Premier Klein’s poor record in regards to environmental protection.
In March, in a news release, AWA announces that Alberta has an excellent opportunity to protect several significant unfragmented wild forests in northeastern Alberta, including those in the Primrose-Lakeland area, through both the judicious swapping of land that is already compromised by various industrial uses and a commitment to legislated protection for the intact forests gained through this process.
“If land swaps in the Primrose-Lakeland region will further the Canadian Boreal Initiative’s goal of conserving at least 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest in a network of large interconnected protected areas, then we should explore this option,” says Ian Urquhart, the University of Alberta political scientist who is leading AWA’s work in the Primrose-Lakeland area.
On September 20, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) of Canada certifies 5.5 million ha of Alberta-Pacific’s FMA.
In August, in a news release, AWA urges the provincial government to discuss with the federal Department of National Defence the potential contribution the 1.3 million-acre Cold Lake Air Weapons Range could make to national boreal forest conservation efforts.
AWA’s Ian Urquhart writes to Smartwood’s Director and Chief of Forestry concerning the Draft Report on Al-Pac’s FSC certification application. Urquhart reiterates AWA’s earlier position that the National Boreal Standard must demand stronger actions from Al-Pac in respect to promoting protection in lands adjacent to its FMA (such as Lakeland Provincial Park/Recreation Area and the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range). Specifically, as a condition of certification, “Al-Pac should encourage the provincial government to complete the Lakeland Provincial Park Management Plan to satisfy the IUCN’s Category II protected area criteria and support an assessment of the protected areas/ecological benchmarks potential of the forest contained in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.” AWA also argues that the certification decision must include an explanation of how the FSC policy on excising areas from the scope of a certification was applied in respect to Al-Pac’s FMA.
AWA’s Ian Urquhart writes to Minister of Community Development Gary Mar requesting that his department endorse the need to conduct an extensive scientific study of the CLAWR’s biodiversity potential. Urquhart notes that Minister of National Defence Bill Graham has expressed his conditional commitment to this course of action and that in the past Saskatchewan negotiated with the Canadian military and established three protected areas comprising nearly 171,000 ha on its portion of the Range. Urquhart also repeats AWA’s request for the long-awaited release of the Lakeland Management Plan and for a description of the public participation mechanisms that will be established to examine the Plan.
Minister of Community Development Gary Mar writes AWA to say he is pleased to learn of the conditional commitment from the Department of National Defence to work with the provincial government to establish a protected area on the Air Weapons Range and that his department “would be pleased to participate in discussions regarding protection of forests within the base.”
In July, in a letter to AWA, Community Development Minister Gary Mar states: “My department is reviewing the Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area draft management plan and I anticipate its release to the public in the near future.”
In June, Minister of National Defence Bill Graham responds to AWA’s request (of March 3) for Canada to consider the ecological value of establishing protected areas on the Alberta portion of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. He points out that since the land is leased from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the provinces retain natural resources rights, the Department of National Defence cannot created protected areas like that on CFB Suffield. However, while his department has concerns about possible limitations on military exercises, “DND will be pleased to participate in discussions with the Province of Alberta to establish any type of environmentally protected area.”
In April, AWA’s Ian Urquhart points out that many rural Albertans feel that they bear the costs of environmental stewardship disproportionately to urban dwellers. “I would suggest … that if we want to build local support in communities such as Lac La Biche for our conservation objectives, we must find ways of marrying conservation to economic growth and diversification in rural Alberta. The potential of eco- or nature-related tourism ventures in the Lakeland area should figure prominently in this approach.… The recognition by the provincial government that tourism, particularly nature-related tourism, has an important role to play in the economic revitalization of rural Alberta fits well with what I hope will become a successful strategy in our Primrose-Lakeland campaign” (Wild Lands Advocate).
AWA meets with local conservation organizations in both Lac La Biche and Cold Lake.
AWA produces a brochure, “Primrose-Lakeland: Alberta’s Forgotten Boreal,” and distributes it to AWA members in northern Alberta and to households throughout the Lac La Biche-Cold Lake area.
AWA participates in the Forest Stewardship Council audit of forest management practices on the Al-Pac FMA. This audit is required as part of Al-Pac’s application to have the so-called green labeling appear on its forest products.
AWA urges the provincial government to finalize an ecologically sensitive Management Plan for Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA, and to participate in a systematic ecological study of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.
In December, a poll about Lakeland’s future conducted by the University of Alberta at the request of AWA, two-thirds of those surveyed agreed (42% of them strongly) that wilderness protection in Lakeland should take precedence over logging and petroleum. Only 7 percent disagreed with this position.
AWA’s Ian Urquhart writes to the team assembled to conduct an assessment of Al-Pac’s forestry management practices with respect to Al-Pac’s application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) “green” certification. Following are the main points:
AWA’s Ian Urquhart notes that a recent mapping of the locations of active petroleum, natural gas, and oil sands leases on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range show that “some townships … appear to be characterized by more wells than forest. One oil sands company, for example, has erected 796 wells on 54 sections of land” (Wild Lands Advocate).
In November, AWA participates in the site visits of the Al-Pac FMA conducted by Smartwood, an independent forestry certifier that is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
In October, Kevin Timoney of Treeline Ecological Research completes a preliminary study commissioned by AWA: An Ecological Study of the Potential for Biodiversity Conservation in and near the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, Alberta. The study describes the state of the ecosystem, identifies conflicts and threats to conservation, and predicts the future of the area based on current trends. The conclusion is that the CLAWR “is indeed biologically diverse, relatively unfragmented, and worthy of protection.” The report also underlines the need to gather better information about the flora and fauna found on the CLAWR, since the area has generally been excluded from previous scientific studies and likely contains many significant species about which little or nothing is known. Some additional conclusions are as follows:
In August, AWA’s Ian Urquhart points out that although Al-Pac agreed to defer from logging in the Touchwood Lake area, the deferral was only for a year. AWA continues to press for a longer-term commitment and specifies that any longer-term commitment to a moratorium must involve other quota holders in the area, such as Vanderwell Construction (Wild Lands Advocate).
In June, Al-Pac, as part of its effort to satisfy the protected areas expectations of its FSC certification application, proposes to defer from logging in those areas of its FMA south and east of Touchwood Lake road (5,107 ha). A permanent deferral of logging here, as a first step towards formal legislated protection, would partially meet AWA’s goals in the Touchwood Lake area.
In May, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NTREE) Boreal Forest Program holds a stakeholder workshop in Fort McMurray as part of a case study of the Al-Pac FMA. The study “will identify fiscal and regulatory barriers to conservation and policy options for conserving natural capital, while recognizing the importance of resource development and other economic and social values for land use in this area.”
AWA writes to Al-Pac and urges the company to defer from logging in several cutblocks north of the Touchwood Lake road. AWA argues that deferrals in these areas are well-supported by the High Conservation Value Forests analysis conducted for Al-Pac/WWF Canada and by the commitments expected by signatories to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework (Al-Pac is a signatory).
In April, Al-Pac suggests it would be interested in evaluating the potential contribution a protected area on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range could make as a “representative ecological benchmark” in Al-Pac’s forest management approach.
The Population Research Laboratory at the University of Alberta releases the results of its Alberta Survey, an annual survey of public opinion in Alberta. The seven questions AWA added to the survey include several pertaining to Lakeland. Albertans’ responses to these questions indicate their strong support for promoting a protected areas agenda in Lakeland. For details on the survey see the relevant links in AWA’s Lakeland Archive.
Al-Pac’s 2004 Draft Forest Management Plan notes the following:
In December, the Canadian Boreal Initiative announces the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework (BFCF), which proposes the establishment of a network of large interconnected protected areas covering about half of Canada’s boreal region and the use of cutting-edge sustainable development practices in remaining areas. Signing onto the Framework are conservation organizations, First Nations, and oil and timber companies, including Al-Pac. Concessions from Al-Pac in Lakeland will help demonstrate that the company’s commitment to the BFCF is more than symbolic.
In October, AWA conservation biologist Laurie Wein makes the following points about Primrose-Lakeland (Wild Lands Advocate):
The final draft of the AWA “Strategic Plan for Primrose-Lakeland” is prepared. The goals are to identify and protect the remaining High Conservation Value Forests in the area; to promote the restoration of ecological integrity; to consult with local communities; to inform management plans for the area; and to promote alternative, economically diversified and ecologically sustainable models of development for local communities.
The plan will be implemented in three stages:
In August, a “Protected Areas Design in Northern Alberta” meeting is held with the following participants: CPAWS, WWF, BEACON Team, AWA, FAN, and Al-Pac. The discussion focuses on the projects of each group that relate to Lakeland and on how best to work together to protect the area.
In July, Alberta Environment approves the Terms of Reference for the update of the Cold Lake-Beaver River Water Management Plan. Over the 20 years since the 1985 Plan was adopted, there has been increased industrial development, population growth, and water demand in the region. The update is being done by Alberta Environment in partnership with the Lakeland Industry and Community Association. In the open houses held in the area in March and April, the possibility of a water pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River was discussed.
Al-Pac responds to AWA’s request that it defer from logging north of Lakeland Park and PRA. Al-Pac says that, pending the completion of the High Conservation Value Forests analysis commissioned by Al-Pac and WWF Canada, Al-Pac “will not harvest cutblocks south and east of the Touchwood Lake Road, adjacent to Lakeland Provincial Park and Lakeland Recreation Area.”
With a grant from the Richard Ivey Foundation, AWA continues its Primrose-Lakeland campaign, but with a slightly different tack. Once old-growth and High Conservation Values Forests areas are clearly identified, AWA will initiate an extensive public consultation process that engages government, industry, local communities, First Nations, and the scientific community. By encouraging local involvement, AWA hopes to increase understanding of the benefits of these forests and the ecological services they provide and to reach an agreement with all stakeholders as to how such benefits can inform future management plans for the region.
In October, Lakeland County completes a regional groundwater assessment.
In Summer, a three-year watershed study program is initiated by the Lac La Biche Watershed Study Committee, which comprises elected officials, residents, and farmers and is coordinated by Jay S. White, a private environmental consultant. The Alberta Conservation Association is actively involved in the project, which is also supported by scientist Dr. David Schindler. This awareness and education program intends to investigate the impacts of land use and land management practices on the quality of water in Lac La Biche and to increase the commitment of watershed users and residents to healthy and responsible land use practices.
In April, AWA’s Jillian Tamblyn and environmental consultant Richard Thomas attend Al-Pac’s open house in Lac La Biche regarding logging plans in the Touchwood Lake area.
Vanderwell Contractors Ltd. and Al-Pac unveil plans to log part of the northern boundary of Lakeland Provincial Park near Touchwood Lake. In May, the House River fire puts these plans on hold for a period of one year as Al-Pac is occupied with salvage logging in the burned area.
In June, Lakeland County councillors push for a road on the western side of the Cold Lake bombing range so that the range and its activity can be directly linked to the County. AEC reports plans to increase production within the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range over the next seven years (Lac La Biche Post 29 June 2001).
“Regional Cumulative Effects Management Framework for Cold Lake, Alberta” is completed for the Research and Development Monograph Series. This research was supported by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Research and Development Program. The report “provides a regional cumulative effects management framework, addressing the cumulative environmental effects that cannot be resolved by a single project proponent or industry acting alone.”
In June, AWA puts out a media release announcing that petroleum CEOs who were asked by provincial conservation groups to withdraw from 10 key ecological areas in Alberta, including Lakeland, have refused to support this initiative.
In April, the Special Places Local Committee members studying the Beaver Lake/Elinor Lake area decide that they will not recommend the area to Minister Gary Mar for designation due to lack of local public support. The Local Committee chair says, “I think people weren’t against the management principles.… A lot of it goes back to the Lakeland (Provincial Park) process and I guess at that time people accepted things that were later changed. They don’t trust the process” (Lac La Biche Post 18 Apr. 2000).
In March, at a Special Places Open House on the Beaver Lake/Elinor Lake candidate site (326 km2 just west of Lakeland Provincial Park), most members of the local community who are present express opposition to protecting this area (Lac La Biche Post 28 Mar. 2000). Those opposed include First Nations, loggers, and ATV users.
In January, Reeve Debra Lozinski of Lac La Biche points out that naming Beaver Lake-Elinor Lake as a Special Places candidate appears to have triggered industry (seismic) activity (Lac La Biche Post 25 Jan. 2000).
In October, more than seven years after the Park and PRA were officially established, there is still no Management Plan in place and the Park does not appear on the government’s provincial parks website.
On October 19, the Special Places Local Committee studying the area between Beaver Lake and Elinor Lake has its first meeting, and “member Mel Kuprowsky walks out of the meeting early, saying the ‘advisory’ status of the committee was just not good enough” (Lac La Biche Post 9 Nov. 1999). Kuprowsky believes that the government has frequently used advisory committees to diffuse the heat. “You and I both know the minister can grant whatever he wants to grant,” he says. “If this government really believes in citizens having a say, they can give the committee the authority.” Kuprowsky later leaves the Committee when the Environment Minister says that he cannot guarantee support of the Committee’s recommendations.
In February, a letter to Premier Ralph Klein, AWA expresses concern about logging in Lakeland and the proposed Natural Heritage Act: “The proposition of logging those forests ‘to maintain biological diversity’ is absurd!” she says, in response to the Premier’s letter (Sept. 17, 1998). “A diversity of stumps is neither maintaining biological diversity nor ecological integrity.”
In January, Lakeland County councillors go to Edmonton to meet with Environment Minister Ty Lund in response to his suggestion to move the Lakeland PRA boundary west in order to accommodate the proposed utility corridor along the eastern edge of the PRA. “Lund’s assistant Michael Lohner said other land to make up for the lost strip would be added to the Lakeland Special Place if the eastern boundary was trimmed, but [Lakeland Reeve] Lozinski said the minister never mentioned that possibility when they met.… The width of the proposed corridor makes residents suspect the province intends to put in a road, but Lund assured them there would be no roadway, she said” (Edmonton Journal 13 Jan. 1999).
Peter Lee, WWF Regional Director for Alberta, writes in a letter to the editor of the Edmonton Journal (Jan. 9): “The proposed utility corridor is in addition to the gross disturbances that have already been approved in Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area: for example, allowing 493 km of linear disturbances, cutting 49 percent of the old-growth white spruce forest, issuing 42 subsurface oil and gas leases that translate into 40 percent of Lakeland’s area, allowing many petroleum well sites and associated infrastructure to be constructed, and reducing the sport fishery through over-exploitation.”
In December, shortly after Lakeland’s Draft Management Plan is approved, Lakeland County Reeve Debra Lozinski expresses concern about development plans in Lakeland: “We wrote a letter to [Environmental Protection Minister] Ty Lund a month ago. We asked him to please consult us.” Lozinski reports that the County has no idea what is being planned for the Park and PRA regarding developments or utility corridor.
Lund’s solution to the contradiction of bulldozing a corridor through a protected area is simple: “We can simply move the boundary of the recreation area a mile or half mile to the west. I would sooner move the boundary than bring in that economic activity” (Lac La Biche Post 8 Dec. 1998). This is in complete contradiction to the department’s Environmental Resource Committee’s recommendations to further restrict access and expand the boundaries of the Lakeland area, recommendations that arose from public hearings in the region (Edmonton Journal 24 Nov. 1998).
Former Lac La Biche mayor Tom Maccagno says, “[Lund’s solution] left most thinking people here breathless. If this is how you solve a problem it’s a stunning exercise in logic” (Edmonton Journal 13 Jan. 1999).
The publisher of the Lac La Biche Post asks for the resignation of Environment Minister Lund and writes that “all levels of municipal government in the area are opposed to the idea of an energy corridor, including the Chamber of Commerce.”
Environmental Protection spokesperson Jim Law insists that there have been no discussions with the military to put the proposed utility corridor inside the Air Weapons Range (Lac La Biche Post 8 Dec. 1998).
In November, AWA comments on the proposed utility corridor through the PRA: “Only 5.1 per cent of the Lakeland region … is roadless, and, excluding lakes, only 1 per cent of the entire region consists of core habitat areas. The utility corridor would also cut off access for the woodland caribou.… As of January 1998, total lengths of linear disturbances in Lakeland (including clearcuts, roads, pipeline corridors, etc.) were 120.48 km in the Provincial Park and 372.25 in the PRA” (Wild Lands Advocate).
The Department of National Defence appears to have changed its stance on allowing a proposed utility corridor through the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (see January). Wing Operations Officer Lt.-Col. Jim Grecco says there is room for another pipeline through the range without disrupting weapons training. There are already two pipelines through the range and a third would be acceptable, says Grecco (Edmonton Journal 25 Nov. 1998). Energy Minister Steve West, however, is loathe to cede control of the corridor to the federal government and would prefer it to go through the PRA: “Future generations of Alberta are going to thank us for setting aside this pathway through this recreation area.… Anybody who denies that today is only doing it to be politically correct” (Alberta Hansard 24 Nov. 1998).
In October, in a letter to Lakeland County, Environment Minister Ty Lund states: “Environmental Protection is supportive of the local committee’s recommendations that selective thinning (tree by tree harvesting) be used within the PRA as a management tool in maintaining stand age class diversity.… The only time logging could be allowed in the Park would be for salvage and sanitation purposes.”
In August, the Alberta government’s plans to approve a major utility corridor through Lakeland PRA causes the withdrawal of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists from the Special Places 2000 Provincial Coordinating Committee, leaving only one environmental group, WWF, on the committee. Although Lt.-Col. Jim Grecco, Wing Operations Officer at the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range confirmed that Environment Minister Ty Lund has the option of running the corridor through the Range, Lund has instead selected a route through the PRA (Globe and Mail 19 Aug. 1998).
In a letter to Environment Minister Gary Mar (August 17), WWF’s Peter Lee expresses concern about Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA, including linear disturbances, clearcut logging, oil and gas activity, OHV use, declining health of fishery, floatplane landings, approval of utility corridor, and the permitting of hunting in the Provincial Park beginning in fall 1999.
In a letter to Environment Minister Ty Lund, AWA’s Sam Gunsch expresses opposition to the proposed utility corridor through Lakeland. Lund responds by saying, “This route is being considered to provide one possible option for a corridor. A route through the military range could still be explored in the future and is a preferred option.”
In July, AWA puts out a news release critiquing Environment Minister Ty Lund’s decision to permit logging in Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA. There is still no finalized Management Plan for the area.
In a letter to Premier Klein (July 24), AWA points out that Lund’s decision to open the area to commercial logging completely contradicts previous government commitments, Local Advisory Committee recommendations, scientific reports, and regional tourism development plans. Klein responds by saying that “the moratorium on timber harvesting within the PRA, which was instituted in 1993, remains in effect.” This is in contradiction to Ty Lund’s letter to Mayor Langevin in March indicating that logging would be permitted, resulting in possible changes in the preservation objective for the PRA.
In June, Energy Minister Steve West and Environment Minister Ty Lund tacitly approve a utility/pipeline corridor through the most pristine area of the Lakeland PRA to accommodate northern Alberta’s oilsands expansion. This approval occurs after the Department of National Defence informs the province that “it [wants] nothing to do with a proposal to have part of the utility corridor cut through the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range” (Edmonton Journal 24 Nov. 1998).
West initially makes the suggestion that the utility corridor be arranged before the Lakeland Management Plan is released (see January 1998) and Lund concurs: “I hope to conclude all matters related to the corridor so that the Draft Lakeland Management Plan can be brought forward to Standing Policy Committee” (memo to Minister West, June 12). Lund states that the route will follow the east side of the PRA, around the west side of Spencer Lake, east to the east boundary of the PRA, and south to Seibert Lake.
Deputy Energy Minister Bob King writes to Deputy Environment Minister Jim Nichols outlining the predicament the government is in regarding the proposed utility/pipeline corridor, given the Department of National Defence’s opposition to a corridor through the Air Weapons Range: “As discussions are actively underway to reconfigure this protected area, and possibly further restrict access, I ask that you delay any decision on the boundary, on new access restrictions, or a different designation … pending the outcome of our discussion with industry on the best location for a corridor” (Edmonton Journal 24 Nov. 1998).
In his response to an inquiry by MLA Denis Ducharme, Environment Minister Ty Lund indicates that floatplane access to Lakeland may be extended: “The present policy in Lakeland Provincial Park is not to allow floatplane access except for emergency, safety or resource management reasons. This policy is in keeping with other provincial parks in the province.… The Lakeland Open House Panel Committee recommended that limited aircraft use be allowed in Lakeland Provincial Park for recreation purposes. This recommendation will be submitted to Standing Policy Committee for approval.”
In May, in a memo to Environment Minister Ty Lund about the proposed utility corridor through the Lakeland PRA, Deputy Minister Jim Nichols makes the following points:
In April, in a memo to Environment Minister Ty Lund, MLA Debby Carlson asks the Minister what progress has been made with the recommendations of the Northeast Boreal Environmental Resource Committee’s (ERC) review of the Lakeland Open House Panel Committee’s Report. She states that in a letter to the community in April 1997, Lund promised that “we well keep the community informed as the review progresses.” A year later, the public has been given no details and has had no opportunity for input or final comment on the ERC’s recommendations, which are soon to be submitted to a government Standing Policy Committee.
Liberal Environment Critic Debbie Carlson points out that arsenic levels in excess of the Canadian drinking water standards have recently been found in some wells in the Cold Lake area. A 1979 groundwater study in the area showed that arsenic was undetectable at that time in most wells. Environment Minister Ty Lund admits the truth of Carlson’s statements and states that the source of the contaminant remains unknown and that his department has asked Imperial Oil “to do more work on it” (Alberta Hansard 6 Apr. 1998).
In March, in a letter to Lac La Biche Mayor Ovide Langevin, Environment Minister Ty Lund announces logging in the protected area, rescinding Premier Klein’s 1996 promise to maintain a moratorium on logging in the area. Lund introduces what he calls “enabling legislation” to legalize resource development in provincial parks, including logging in Lakeland. Premier Ralph Klein writes to AWA suggesting that “carefully managed timber harvesting” within the Lakeland Park and PRA “is consistent with government policy.”
An Environmental Protection Ministry report entitled The Final Frontier: Protecting Landscape and Biological Diversity within Alberta’s Boreal Forest Natural Region, makes the following points:
In February, an Edmonton Journal article (Feb. 18) reports on the threat of closure of provincial parks and protected areas due to a lack of interest in the private sector in operating them. Lac La Biche Mayor Ovide Langevin writes Minister Ty Lund, inquiring whether Lakeland will be affected. Lund responds (March 17) with the assurance that Lakeland Provincial Park has been listed as a Natural Heritage Site and such sites will not be closed and will continue to be funded by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Department of Environmental Protection contacts the M.D. of Bonnyville requesting a meeting to discuss the issue of the plan for a new access to the two private properties on Snug Cove in the PRA (see June 1995). Since 1995, the Department has contacted the M.D. every year requesting a commencement date for the construction of the new access road.
In January, Environment Minister Ty Lund signs the Lakeland Draft Management Plan completed in 1996.
Energy Minister Steve West writes to Environment Minister Ty Lund (January 29) asking Lund to ignore the recommendations of his department’s Environmental Resource Committee (ERC) to protect Lakeland by restricting resource extraction and further access, and by expanding the area’s boundaries.
In a memo to Environment Minister Ty Lund, Deputy Minister Jim Nichols cautions that resource extraction (e.g., timber harvesting, PNG activity) may jeopardize the area’s current inclusion in the Special Places program inventory. He also suggests downgrading protection of the area to Wildland Park designation to accommodate activities that are incompatible with Parks policy.
With respect to the proposed AEC Pipelines utility corridor through Lakeland, “National Defence is adamant that no further expansion of [the existing] right-of-way and no new right-of-way will be allowed to compromise the integrity of the Air Weapons Range” (memo from Energy Deputy Minister Bob King to Environment Deputy Minister Jim Nichols, Jan. 13).
Provincial government ecologist Richard Thomas authors the report The Boreal Forest Natural Region of Alberta, one in a series of reports for the Special Places 2000 Provincial Coordinating Committee. Thomas includes the following points:
AWA, along with a host of other environmental organizations, calls upon Premier Klein to upgrade the Park and Recreation Area to a Wildland Park designation, to ban OHV use and industrial activity, and to add 1,000 km2 to the protected area. Tom Maccagno, former Mayor of Lac La Biche and a supporter of protecting Lakeland, who advocated an end to industrial activity within the proposed area, comments about the actions of the provincial government: “Everything is looked at as a resource. We should look at these things as treasures. They should be respected and cared for, they’re not for sale.”
In an undated memo responding to a memo (August 17, 1998) from MLA Denis Ducharme, Minister Ty Lund refers to aircraft use in Lakeland: “Seasonal letters of authority are currently issued to float plane pilots who request, in writing, permission to access lakes in Lakeland PRA for recreational purposes. These letters of authority … permit the pilot to access lakes during allowable periods.… Aircraft access into Lakeland Provincial Park has previously been prohibited in keeping with the department’s policy of not allowing aircraft onto water bodies in provincial parks for recreational purposes.
Amendments to the management plan will permit aircraft to land on a number of lakes. The process in place for issuing seasonal letters of authority for Lakeland PRA will likely also be instituted in the park.”
In July, a long-standing grievance of the Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN) related to the 1952 creation of the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range (now called the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range) is finally settled. Under the Settlement Agreement, the government of Canada provides CLFN with $25.5 million and 2,023.5 ha of provincial Crown land to be added to CLFN’s reserve lands. Members of CLFN will also regain access to the Range.
Alberta Liberal Environment Critic Debbie Carlson reports that groundwater pollution has become a major concern in the Cold Lake area. Landowners report that the quality of their well water has significantly deteriorated over the last few years, and Imperial Oil has discovered high levels of chlorides associated with oilwell activity at more than twice the Canadian Drinking Water Standard in deeper aquifers or water-bearing rock formations.
In May, AWA’s Cliff Wallis expresses concern to AEC Pipelines about the impact of the proposed Fort McMurray-Hardisty pipeline on major streams and on Environmentally Significant Areas (letter 10 May).
In April, AWA’s Cliff Wallis writes to AEC Pipelines to express AWA’s concern about the proposed Fort McMurray to Hardisty pipeline. The plan is for the pipeline to traverse the Lakeland PRA.
AEC Pipelines holds public open house sessions in several communities that may be affected by the proposed Fort McMurray to Hardisty pipeline.
AEC Pipelines begins the process of obtaining regulatory approvals for their Fort McMurray to Hardisty Pipeline, proposed to traverse the Lakeland PRA, by filing applications with Alberta Environment and the AEUB and by submitting a Lakeland Pipeline Project Conservation and Reclamation Plan.
In February, the “Panel Report on Public Consultation Regarding the Draft Management for Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area” is completed by the Open House Hearing Panel struck by Environmental Protection Minister Ty Lund and Paul Langevin, Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA. In addition to Langevin, the panel chair, the panel comprised five representatives of local municipal governments surrounding Lakeland, the Public Advisory Committee chair, and the Lakeland Steering Committee chair.
According to AWA’s Ian Urquhart, “This panel [was] not nearly as inclusive as the PAC and [gave] off a decidedly ‘handpicked by the minister’ aroma” (Wild Lands Advocate October 2005). The Report summarizes approximately 50 presentations at three open houses held in Edmonton, Lac La Biche, and Glendon in November/December 1996 as well as 278 completed response forms received at the open houses and 193 letters. These public reactions came overwhelmingly from the motorized recreation community.
The following are some of the summary points made by the panel:
The panel expressed the following:
AEC Piplines proposes a crude oil pipeline system from Ft. McMurray to Hardisty. The proposed pipeline will run directly through the Lakeland PRA. While an alternative route is proposed to divert the pipeline through the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, the Department of National Defence is opposed to this proposal. Minister of Environment Ty Lund suggests moving the boundary of the PRA, much to the consternation of environmentalists.
In December, in a presentation to a political panel as part of the Lakeland public consultation process, environmental consultant Dr. Richard Thomas provides background material on the management planning process, discusses Lakeland’s importance from a conservation perspective, and comments on a few of Lakeland’s controversial management issues. His points include the following:
In November-December, public hearings are held regarding issues identified in the Draft Management Plan and Discussion Paper. Until January 15, 1997, 193 letters are received as well, most from motorized vehicle users (ATV, snowmobile, 4X4) and traditional users, as well as a few from school groups, family groups, and those concerned with protection of the area.
In October, a discussion paper prepared by various provincial departments states: “On average, the economic contributions of parks and protected areas are comparable to those of other resource-based sectors.”
The government releases its long awaited Lakeland Draft Management Plan.
In September, the Department of Environmental Protection announces the last stage of public review of the Lakeland Draft Management Plan, including public open houses, formal presentations, and written submissions, all to be completed by January 15, 1997.
Environmental Protection puts out a Discussion Paper on the Lakeland Draft Management Plan in order to highlight instances where recommendations of the Lakeland Foundation Document, the Draft Management Plan, and the Lakeland Public Advisory Committee Summary Report and Recommendations are not in full agreement.
The Draft Management Plan for Lakeland is completed.
AWA puts out an Action Alert on
Lakeland, identifying urgent issues: access, especially to motorized vehicles; hunting, fishing, and trapping; timber harvesting; and oil and gas exploration.
In June, Tera Environmental Consultants informs AWA in a letter that they have been retained to prepare a conservation and reclamation report for the proposed AEC Fort McMurray to Hardisty pipeline that will traverse part of the Lakeland PRA.
In April, AWA puts out a press release announcing that ORV use continues in Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA, that logging is under consideration there, and that at least one well has been drilled.
In March, Premier Klein responds to AWA’s concerns, stating, “We certainly intend to honour the commitment to a moratorium on logging to provide time to complete the management plan for the park and provincial recreation area. Please be assured that this management plan will protect the resources these areas were established to protect.” AWA argues that if logging proceeds in Lakeland, this will destroy all credibility of the Special Places 2000 program. Without legislative prohibitions on industrial uses like logging, the Special Places 2000 campaign is essentially meaningless in terms of preserving biological integrity.
In the Legislature, Environment Minister Ty Lund says, “We do not allow logging in a provincial park. That’s not to say that we don’t cut some trees in a provincial park.… But the general policy is: no logging as we know it.… I can assure the hon. member that the moratorium on logging that is currently in place – it was put there in 1993 – does apply to both the recreation area and the park” (Alberta Hansard 11 Mar. 1996).
Representatives of AWA, CPAWS, and WWF meet on March 31 to discuss the possibility of working toward a Central Mixedwood Protected Area of Global Significance. The goal would be to have an integrated protected area large enough to include natural disturbance regimes such as fires and floods. This would include the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, the whole of Lakeland as depicted on the AWA map, Cold Lake Provincial Park, and Meadow Lake Provincial Park in Saskatchewan.
In February, AWA writes to Premier Ralph Klein documenting that the Alberta Forest Service and the Environment Minister are proceeding with plans to log the protected area despite the promise given for preservation in 1992.
In a letter to Hon. Ty Lund (February 7), Lakeland Public Advisory Committee member Tom Mccagno expresses concern that the Committee has been kept in the dark about possible logging in Lakeland, contrary to PAC’s recommendations, and about the inexplicable delay in producing a Draft Management Plan.
In November, in his response to AWA’s Brett Purdy’s letter (October 12) expressing concerns about a timber reconnaissance flight over Lakeland PRA, Environment Minister Ty Lund says that the purpose of the flight was “to review the potential for timber extraction should there be a future decision to log in the area.”
In fall, Environment Minister Ty Lund, ignoring the recommendations of the Public Advisory Committee and prejudging the outcome of the management plan about which he is consulting Albertans, assures the Northeast Alberta Lumbering Association representative and the local MLA, Paul Langevin, that logging will be permitted in the protected area. The Alberta Forest Service flies prospective logging companies over the PRA, in essence lobbying for logging permit applications within the protected area. AWA writes a letter to the province condemning these actions.
In August, the Lakeland Management Planning Team invites AWA’s Brett Purdy to an information exchange session regarding the concept of a proposed Lakeland Environmental/Interpretive Centre. The Centre will promote long-term conservation, foster stewardship, promote and facilitate ecotourism, and encourage non-consumptive recreational activities.
The Public Advisory Committee’s 44-page Summary Report and Recommendations for the general Management Plan for Lakeland is published. Issues considered are zoning and boundaries, access, biological resource management, cultural resources management, aesthetic resource management, and dispositions and development. Some of the 100+ recommendations made include Wildland zoning of the land base and lakes in the Park; establishing a wildland canoe circuit; restricting OHV use to designated access routes; improving fisheries management; upgrading major roads to “parkway” standards; upgrading some campgrounds; and creating a visitor centre.
Alberta Environmental Protection Natural Resources Service (Parks) publishes a 215-page “Background Report for the Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA General Management Plan.” Topics covered are zoning; access; biological, cultural, and aesthetic resource management; and dispositions and development.
The Public Advisory Committee recommends a prohibition on logging in the PRA and Park, with the possibility of highly selective and low-impact logging in future to maintain the goals of ecosystem management; information gaps regarding the health and fire history of Lakeland’s forests need to be filled in order to establish an “ecological benchmark” before any forest management activities should take place. The Environment Department’s own scientists point out that 65 percent of the protected area’s old-growth forests is in the PRA. The Committee notes that the forests of the park and the recreation area are “Lakeland’s most unique vegetation feature … one of Lakeland’s most important contributions to biodiversity … [and that] it is best to leave the forest undisturbed.”
In June, the Department of Environmental Protection notifies the M.D. of Bonnyville that it will approve a new alignment for access to two private properties at Snug Cove within the Lakeland PRA. Both owners want to develop tourist facilities on their properties and both parties want a good access road developed to replace the existing four-wheel-drive access trail, which runs through highly important and sensitive waterfowl and marsh bird breeding habitat. The proposed new access will bypass this area. The estimated cost is $70,000 and the provincial government is prepared to provide a total of $25,000. The remaining cost will be divided between the M.D. and the landowners.
Public consultation and a public opinion survey by the province on a management plan for Lakeland find that Albertans want a larger area (the entire 1,124 km2) set aside for protection and do not want resource development in the protected area. The Minister refuses to release the report on the public opinion survey.
In December, “Environmental Assessment Cold Lake Air Weapons Range” is completed by D.A. Westworth and Associates Ltd.
In November, in a document entitled “Ecosystem Management Issues for Lakeland,” Lorna Allen of the Natural Heritage Protection and Education Branch, Parks Services includes the following points:
Allen makes the following recommendations:
In June, Dr. Brad Stelfox of the Alberta Environmental Centre speaks to the Lakeland Public Advisory Committee regarding the biodiversity study he is currently conducting in the Lakeland region. He points out that Lakeland supports hundreds of vascular plants, thousands of non-vascular species (lichens, mosses, fungi), thousands of insect species, almost 200 bird species, 41 different mammal species, one reptile species, and four amphibian species. He cites agriculture, forestry, the fossil fuel industry, recreation, water management, human population, and habitat loss as forces shaping and potentially threatening the boreal forests.
AWA’s Cliff Wallis addresses the Lakeland Public Advisory Committee on the topic of birds in Lakeland, including the importance of old-growth forests and other significant bird habitats. He discusses the current and potential impact of motorized vehicles, facility development, and industrial development on the area’s birds.
In March, the Lakeland Public Advisory Committee holds its first of 17 meetings over 18 months. The purpose of the PAC is to represent the interests of Albertans as they pertain to developing a detailed management plan for the Park and PRA, taking into consideration the Provincial Parks Act, regulations, and policy directives; appropriateness of activities within a Natural Heritage Provincial Park and PRA; and the intent for establishing the Park and PRA as defined by the Lakeland Foundation Document.
Cottonwood Consultants releases a bird inventory for wetland, old growth and riparian species for the Lakeland area.
Dr. Richard Thomas produces a draft paper entitled “Managing Lakeland’s Forests,” in which he strongly recommends eliminating all commercial logging of Lakeland’s deciduous forests and protecting the area’s old-growth forests in order to maintain the current level of biodiversity.
A government report states that about half of Lakeland’s old-growth trees had already been logged when the land was set aside for protection.
Al-Pac submits to the Alberta government a draft proposal for the development of a Heritage Forests Strategy with the goal of “wise use and protection” of FMA lands. The draft emphasizes the role of fire in the boreal forest and the idea that protection from disturbance (including logging) degrades the health of the forest. “Alberta-Pacific is of the opinion that the rich biodiversity created by this fire process can best be maintained through the careful integration of its harvesting operation as part of the disturbance regime.… Alberta-Pacific believes the ecosystem is better protected through an overall integration with development and not within the boundaries of a protected area.”
In November, a draft document entitled “Putting Lakeland into Perspective,” Alberta Parks Service discusses Lakeland in the context of the global environmental crisis, biodiversity, and habitat loss. Lakeland has international importance as a protected area that conserves biodiversity in the midst of ongoing, massive industrialization of the boreal forest. “Lakeland’s primary function as a protected area supersedes the desires of individuals and interest groups whose activities would result in detrimental effects to Lakeland’s environment.… Users must modify their behaviour to suit Lakeland rather than manipulate and modify Lakeland to suit their perceived ‘needs.’” Lakeland is a “small but vital cog in the wheel of global protected areas” and has the potential to attract tourists from around the world at a time when tourism is fast becoming the world’s number one industry.
In August, an Environmental Impact Assessment is completed by Griffiths and Griffiths Ecological Consultants for the proposed Pinehurst Lake facility development and campground upgrade to identify environmentally sensitive areas that should be protected. Several rare or unusual plant species were identified, along with significant and sensitive vegetation communities and wildlife species and habitats.
In July, in a letter to Land and Forest Service ADM Ken Higginbotham, Parks Service ADM Dave Chabillon recommends that the area between the north boundary of the Park and the Touchwood Lake Road be removed from the Al-Pac FMA so that these lands would truly serve as a buffer and Parks’ access issues could be resolved. He further recommends considering adjusting the Park boundary to incorporate this area. Higginbotham replies on August 20: “During the development of the Alberta-Pacific detailed forest management plan, due September 1, 1994, the options available to meeting both the timber and recreational values will be explored. If it is found that the recreational interests cannot be protected through the use of a special management zone concept, then the removal of this land from the FMA can be pursued.” He makes no response in this reply to the possibility of reconsidering the Park boundary.
Motorized traffic into the Park is restricted to two designated routes to comply with the Provincial Parks Act.
In May, in an Alberta Parks Service document called “Lakeland – Questions and Answers,” the following points are made:
In March, Alberta Parks Service prepares a draft paper entitled “Managing Lakeland’s Forests: Background, Guiding Principles and Objectives” for internal discussion. It includes the following points:
Minister of Environment Brian Evans promises a five-year moratorium on logging in the Park and Recreation Area, until a Management Plan is completed.
Lakeland Provincial Park is closed to sport hunting to comply with its designation under the Provincial Parks Act.
In November, the document Special Places 2000: Alberta’s Natural Heritage is released by the Alberta government.
In an article for Environment Network News, Don Appleby, manager of the Community Advisory Committee¬ – Cold Lake Region, expresses serious concerns about the drought in the region due to declining annual precipitation levels and about the continuing high levels of water use, especially for oil processing: “The idea of destroying one of our most important renewable resources to produce a non-renewable resource while so many people don’t even have a decent source of potable water somehow doesn’t make sense to most people.”
In October, Local Timber Permits are issued for cutblocks east of Seibert Lake and within the Lakeland PRA. This is later recognized as “an unfortunate administrative error”: “it would be in the best interest of all concerned to let this incident slip by quickly and quietly.… This incident is not a precedent for any forest harvesting activity in the future within Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area” (memo from Roger Reilander, Tourism, Parks and Recreation District Manager, to Brydon Ward, Alberta Forest Service Superintendent, Dec. 17/92).
According to the Daily Oil Bulletin, lakes in the Cold Lake region have dropped to their lowest levels in 30 years. Imperial Oil has announced plans to increase production in its Cold Lake heavy oil plant, but it needs government approval for controversial additional water use. There is discussion of a water pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River to accommodate water needs (including those of oil companies for processing) in the region.
A provisional draft of a Zoning Brief for Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA is prepared by the Provincial Parks Service, Lakeland District Office. It outlines the four broad objectives for Alberta’s parks system : protection, heritage appreciation, outdoor recreation, and tourism. The draft summarizes the Provincial Parks Service’s zoning scheme, which comprises seven zones: preservation, historical/cultural, wildland, natural environment, integrated management, facility, and access. The Zoning Brief states that “given current land-use trends in northern Alberta, Lakeland will become an increasingly significant ‘ecological island.’”
At the time of writing the draft, the bulk of both the Park and the PRA has been zoned as Wildland, and each contains significant areas zoned as Preservation. One site in the Park (the Shaw Lake area) and one in the PRA (south and east of the major Pinehurst Lake Facility Zone) have been designated Environment Zones. Areas designated for Integrated Management (which allows for extractive and consumptive activities such as oil and gas exploration, logging, etc.) are restricted to the PRA. “The lack of a complete, detailed inventory has hindered precise zone boundary delimitation.” Because of this lack, the brief suggests erring “on the side of caution” and states that the Lakeland Zoning Plan will be refined and improved when further scientific research has been conducted. Thus far, the primary source of biophysical data used to develop the Zoning Plan is the Westworth study conducted in 1991.
Other points made in the provisional Zoning Brief are as follows:
In September-October, a series of memos by Deputy Minister Al Craig and Minister Don Sparrow (Tourism, Parks and Recreation), and Deputy Minister C. B. Smith and Minister Leroy Fjordbotten (Forestry, Lands and Wildlife) express their support for “a high degree of protection for the wildland resources of Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area.” On Sept. 14, Minister Don Sparrow writes that with the designation of the Park and PRA came significant changes in management priorities for the area: “Protection of the environment for wilderness recreation, tourism and heritage appreciation become the priority concerns. Commercial activities related to natural resource extraction within the Provincial Recreation Area, eg: oil and gas exploration and development, commercial timber harvesting will be considered where they are compatible with the priorities.”
In September, a Draft Minister’s Briefing Report for Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA is prepared and submitted by Roger Reilander, Lakeland District Manager, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. It addresses major issues, background information, recommendations, and required actions to facilitate discussion for development of a detailed Management Plan for the Park and PRA. The report says, “Lakeland Provincial Park is envisioned as a ‘sanctuary’ where wildland values and environmentally sensitive, low-impact tourism (i.e., ecotourism) take precedence.” The report points out that tourism statistics indicate that less mechanized, largely non-consumptive tourism activities such as birding are increasing in popularity while highly machine-oriented, moderate-to-very high impact activities such as hunting and ATV use are declining.
Among the report’s recommendations are the following:
In August, Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area are officially dedicated.
In June, administrative control of the land base is transferred to the Provincial Parks Service (June 18, Order-in-Council #375/92).
In May, in a letter to responding to the concerns of a citizen regarding the boundaries of the Park and PRA, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Don Sparrow promises the following: “These boundaries will be reviewed again. It has been proposed that every five years the lands involved will be reviewed to determine whether or not they should be annexed by the department as part of the Lakeland PRA.”
In March, in a press conference, the government cites Lakeland as an example of “Alberta’s commitment to protect representative examples of its natural heritage and to setting aside large tracts of land as protected areas.”
In February, in a forest industry/environmental round table meeting, representatives of the environmental community raised concerns that logging (“harvesting”) around Lakeland would create problems. The minutes note that the “Lakeland plan does not have support from the environmental community.” Representatives from CPAWS, AWA, Edmonton Friends of the North, and AEN were present to represent the environmental community.
On January 17, Lakeland Provincial Park is established by Order-in-Council 56/92. On January 18, Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area is established by Order-in-Council 55/92. Prior to the establishment of the Park and PRA, approximately 12% of Lakeland Provincial Park and 25% of the PRA were leased for oil and gas development. The Lakeland Foundation Document states that agreements made prior to January 17 will be honoured.
At a joint press conference, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and Environment Minister Ralph Klein announce the establishment of Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area as the flagship for the new Special Places 2000 protected areas initiative for Alberta. The entire protected area is established at only half the size recommended by the government-commissioned scientific assessments and by the public, with just 13 percent (147 km2) of the recommended size under the designation of Provincial Park. Thirty-nine percent (443 km2) is instead established as a Provincial Recreation Area and the remaining half is left with no protection at all. This is done with little regard for the government’s scientific assessment commission’s recommendation that “the proposed park is in itself not large enough to sustain populations of some of the larger and wider ranging species…Some of the important natural systems represented in the proposed park extend across the park boundary and into the proposed recreation area, and beyond.”
In November, in a letter to Recreation and Parks Minister Steve West, AWA Director Brett Purdy once again requests a copy of the analysis of public input prepared from submissions and public responses put forward by Alberta Recreation and Parks in the summer of 1991. Purdy has been requesting this since early September, with no response from the Minister. The Minister finally responds on December 4, 1991: “The results of this analysis are being taken into consideration as we deliberate towards a final decision under the Provincial Parks Act in the Lakeland area. Release of the public input analysis will follow in due course.” Purdy writes to the new Minister, Don Sparrow, on March 31, 1992 with another request. He receives a reply from Deputy Minister Julian Nowicki dated May 28 denying his request: “It is not possible to release this document in isolation of other information that was used to make the decision [for designating the boundaries of the Park and PRA].”
In October, in a letter to the Lac La Biche Forest District Superintendent, AWA’s Brett Purdy critiques current negotiations for a new timber quota and puts forward AWA’s position that all timber harvesting be cancelled within the boundaries of Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA.
A summary of public opinion is prepared by Maureen Payne & Associates.
In June, Alberta Recreation and Parks publishes a Foundation Document in order to “establish the government’s intent relating to proceeding with establishment of Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreational Area.… Proposed activities for the park will be carefully considered so they are appropriate for a wildland-type park.” The document “addresses the importance of maintaining a high degree of protection for the wildland resources of Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area” (memo from Tourism, Parks and Recreation Deputy Minister Al Craig to Forestry, Lands and Wildlife Deputy Minister C. B. Smith, Sept. 11/92). However, many of the “permitted activities” incorporated in this Foundation Document do not conform with “standard” Parks Services’ Regulations or zoning policy; among these anomalies are ATV and snowmobile use, aircraft access to lakes, trapping, commercial fishing, and powered boating (from “Background Report for the Lakeland General Management Plan,” Alberta Environmental Protection, August 1995).
AWA puts out a news release summarizing the results of the Public Opinion Survey conducted by Recreation and Parks in 1990, the Westworth biophysical assessment of Lakeland produced in March 1991, and an analysis of the Park and PRA proposal. It includes the following statement: “The cumulative effect of natural resource extraction and recreational development will seriously impair the ability of the greater Lakeland ecosystem to maintain the diversity of plant and animal communities found there presently. The new park options have incorporated most Forestry and Fish and Wildlife concerns expressed about the original proposal. Yet there has been virtually no move for increased conservation or preservation despite public requests and the definite and urgent need to do so.”
Liberal MLA Grant Mitchell raises suspicions in the legislature about Lakeland’s prospects, saying that the idea of a park in Lakeland is just a public relations move, a sop to Albertans troubled by the province’s decision to allocate most of Alberta’s boreal forest to multinational timber companies.
In May, Bonnyville MLA Ernie Isley abandons the principle of cabinet solidarity by retreating from his earlier support for the proposed Lakeland Provincial Park and PRA. He now expresses support only for a PRA (Grand Centre-Cold Lake Sun, 21 May 1991).
In March, in a meeting sponsored by the Grand Centre Chamber of Commerce, Alberta Recreation and Parks Minister Steve West and MLA Ernie Isley meet with local residents of the Lakeland area. Among those who express concern about the impact of the park on the local economy are CFB Cold Lake officials and municipal mayors and reeves. There is concern that the establishment of the Park and PRA will seriously hamper base operations (Grand Centre-Cold Lake Sun, March 12/91).
The Draft Cold Lake Sub-regional Integrated Resource Plan is completed. The Cold Lake planning area overlaps with the southern portion of AWA’s Primrose-Lakeland Area of Concern.
A biophysical assessment by D.A. Westworth and Associates recommends an expansion of the protected area to 1,124 km2 and argues that without such an expansion species will be lost over time. A public review also recommends the same. The provincial government ignores both these recommendations.
Other recommendations by the Westworth biophysical and resource assessment include the following:
Alberta Forest Service has a clear opportunity to accommodate existing Timber Permit holders outside of the recommended 1,124 km2 when Northern Timber forfeits their Timber Quota, freeing up timber outside the proposed park for reallocation to the permit holders within Lakeland. Instead of seizing this opportunity, the AFS re-issues the quota to another company and continues to count on timber from within the protected area for small local operators.
In January, in a letter to Forestry, Lands, and Wildlife Minister Leroy Fjordbotten, AWA vice-chair and education coordinator Brett Purdy expresses his concern about the credibility of the process that the government is undertaking to solicit public and stakeholder opinions prior to the advancement of development schemes in Lakeland. “There is considerable evidence that senior civil servants in the Lac La Biche-St. Paul area are undermining this review process for their own purposes. Individuals of the Fish and Wildlife Service are enhancing opposition in local Fish and Game clubs and allied groups against a park concept in the area. These actions not only jeopardize the credibility of the review and decision-making process but we fear the actions of these civil servants is undermining the potential for a park to be established in the Lakeland area.” In his reply, Minister Fjordbotten asks Purdy for specific facts to back up his allegations.
In winter, AWA’s Wilderness Alberta publishes a summary article of Brett Purdy’s submission to the Integrated Resource Management Plan Review Team for the Lakeland Subregion. The article outlines a number of potential management problems in the Park and PRA having to do with the development of hiking, equestrian, and biking trails; commercial development such as golf courses and hotels; logging; commercial fishing; trapping; hunting; ATV use; logging; and oil and gas development and exploration.
In December, in a letter to John McInnes, NDP Environment Critic, AWA expresses concern that the government, in planning the Park and PRA, is bending to local wishes, especially the local timber operators, the local Fish and Game club, and commercial fishermen.
In a letter to Recreation and Parks Minister Steve West, AWA expresses concern regarding the IRP and the Park and PRA proposals. Included are the following points:
In October, CPAWS Edmonton Endangered Spaces Education Committee publishes a Lakeland Factsheet in which they make the following comments on the Lakeland proposal:
In September, the Lakeland Public Opinion Summary prepared for Alberta Recreation and Parks by JB’s Communication Service is published with the following general findings:
In summer, AWA publishes an Action Alert on Lakeland, asking the public to support stronger conservation initiatives in Lakeland as follows:
In July, AWA presents a submission to the Integrated Resource Management Plan Review Team asking for the following changes:
In a letter to Recreation and Parks Minister Steve West, Kevin Van Tighem expresses his support of AWA’s proposal for a larger wilderness provincial park. “Compared to 170,000 square kilometers for pulp companies, 1,036 square kilometers for heritage protection and wilderness recreation/tourism is clearly less than even the barest of bare minimums.”
In June and July, Alberta Recreation and Parks participates with Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife in a five-year review of the IRP. In June and July, members of the planning team meet with various groups that had an interest in the area: local timber operators, individuals interested in fisheries and economic development, the Metis association, the Treaty 6 Tribal Council, AWA, Lac La Biche Town Council, and the Alberta Trappers’ Association. Open houses are held in Lac La Biche, Glendon, and Edmonton.
In June, Public Open Houses are held in Fort McMurray, Glendon, Edmonton, and Lac La Biche on the proposed Park and PRA.
In May, the Lakeland Tourism Destination Resort Plan, commissioned by Alberta Tourism Minister Don Sparrow, is completed by an independent consulting firm. The plan identifies and assesses five kinds of potential tourism generators: lakeside resorts, adventure opportunities, heritage tourism developments, Lac La Biche, and Lakeland Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area. The conclusions include the following: “There is significant interesting developing the recreation tourism industry in the Lakeland area. If the area is developed prudently, and reasonable coordination occurs, there is reason to believe that tourism developments in the area can be viable and can generate regional economic benefits.
“However, the conservation of the landscape and fish and wildlife resources in the area will be critical to long-term success. It will be important that cautious management of these resources is a major concern in the planning and locating of tourism developments.”
Existing auto-access camping areas are transferred from Alberta Forest Service to Alberta Recreation and Parks.
In March, Alberta government announces its intention to establish a major new Provincial Park and Provincial Recreation Area in the Lakeland area. Recreation and Parks sees the park as serving two purposes: to conserve a representative example of mixedwood boreal forest and to provide a boreal outdoor recreation node in the province.
Lakeland Provincial Park is announced in the Throne Speech. The goals of the proposed Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area are two-fold: to preserve the mixed wood boreal forest in the area and to provide a recreation area.
Tom Maccagno, president of the Lac La Biche Mission Historical Society, expresses his concerns in a letter to Premier Don Getty about a proposed pulp mill in the Lac La Biche-Athabasca region. Maccagno’s concerns include the impact such a development would have on the environment and indirectly on the restoration of the historic Lac La Biche Mission.
Three grazing licenses are issued in Lakeland, and then cancelled the following year because of public opposition to agricultural expansion in the area. A moratorium is placed on further agricultural applications.
The Water Management Plan for the Cold Lake-Beaver River Basin is adopted.
In June, the Lakeland Integrated Resource Plan for a 3,370 km2 area is approved on June 19. Its primary recommendation is to develop a wide range of recreational uses, although it also outlines strategic directions for the management of the area’s many resources, including agriculture. Twelve resource management areas are created, nine of which have a recreation focus; the other three are designated for multiple use and agriculture.
In October, A round table meeting is held on Oct. 17 in Lac La Biche to permit the Alberta Integrated Planning Advisory Committee members to discuss their concerns with the planning team. The public consultants do not have any major concerns with the plan and the planning team decides to recommend some minor revisions but no major changes.
In September, The Lakeland Integrated Resource Plan is distributed to the Alberta Integrated Planning Advisory Committee on Sept. 12.
Lakeland is proposed for preservation.
January: Alberta Environment begins the Cold Lake-Beaver River Water Management Study.
The Lakeland Resource Management Policy, developed by an interdepartmental planning team and providing a policy framework for resource management within the planning area, receives approval.
The Draft Cold Lake Regional Plan is completed. The Cold Lake planning area overlaps with the southern portion of AWA’s Primrose-Lakeland Area of Concern.
An interdepartmental committee comprising representatives from Recreation & Parks and Forestry, Lands & Wildlife agree that the Lakeland area should be designated as a special integrated management unit. Recreational land uses are to have priority over other resource land uses.
The initial Request-for-Decision proposed a 147 km2 Provincial Park and a 441 km2 Provincial Recreation Area. The 588 km2 area represents 15 percent of the Lakeland Sub-Regional IRP area.
A brief prepared for the Premier states that “an integrated management plan could be prepared for the area. This plan would integrate recreation, forest harvesting, agriculture, oil and gas exploration and development, commercial fisheries operation, angling, trapping, and wildlife management.”
A Community Advisory Committee is set up in the Cold Lake area as a forum for discussing issues related to water use. Members include representatives from local government, environmental groups, farmers, trappers, and industry.
The Alberta government initiates an Integrated Resource Plan for the Lakeland area. A report suggests that recreation uses should have priority over all other uses in the area.
In the Provincial Park Proposal prepared for the Hon. A. Adair, the following “potential issues and conflicts” are identified: snowmobiling, hunting, commercial fishing, forestry, acquisition of inholding, location of park boundary, and native hunting and fishing rights. Among the stated goals is “to conserve, for the continuing benefit of Albertans, outstanding natural resources through wise management and use.” Among the objectives is “protection of special and sensitive features such as unique and outstanding representative plant communities and land forms, nesting habitats, ungulate range, etc.”
Hon. Dr. Allan A. Warrack identifies the Lakeland area as a priority item for consideration in his submission of unfinished business to the Hon. Peter Lougheed. He indicates that a park boundary could be identified and a recommendation to establish a park could be presented in 1976.
An interdepartmental task force, including members from the Department of Recreation, Parks & Wildlife, Energy & Natural Resources, and the Northern Development Group, is formed to assess the consultant’s report completed in 1974 and to propose management options to deal with resource conflicts.
Five hundred km2 of land in the Lakeland region is put under Crown reservation for Provincial Park status, including the south half of Elinor Lake.
A biophysical resource inventory is completed by Clissold & Tress covering the area from Lac La Biche to Cold Lake. This report follows a study of the area indicating a high degree of recreational potential in the Lakeland area.
The need for additional provincial parks to provide more and varied recreational opportunities and to conserve unique and representative natural and cultural resources is identified in the Provincial Parks Policy Position Paper #13.
A park reservation is placed on an area from Lac La Biche to Cold Lake, which includes the Lakeland area.
The Local Timber Permit program is established, allowing farmers to remove wood from the Lakeland area for their needs (fence posts, etc.). A small sawmill industry develops in the area.
The Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range (later renamed the Cold Lake AWR) straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, is established following the creation of NATO in 1951.