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News Release: Alberta Chooses Racetrack Over Threatened Species Protection

April 25, 2024

Rosebud Valley is an ecologically important region and provides habitat for bank swallow and other at-risk species. Photo © R. Luo

Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) objects to the province’s latest move to prioritize development over the health of vital ecological spaces.

The Alberta Environmental Appeal Board has announced it will allow the development of the Badlands Motorsport Resort to be built within critical habitat for bank swallow (Riparia riparia).

This decision was made despite the bank swallow’s Threatened listing in the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and in the face of considerable evidence of environmental harm.

The appeal board admitted that “SARA is useful as a reference to identify species that should be considered.” Yet, in its decision, the board said “it does not have jurisdiction, nor would it be appropriate to opine on whether SARA applies to the Approval Holder.”

Bank swallow populations have declined 98 percent in Canada. The species relies heavily on spaces like that of the Rosebud Valley: cliff and bank habitat near waterbodies, such as rivers and lakes. The Recovery Strategy for the bank swallow (Riparia riparia) in Canada lists 55 kilometres along the shoreline of the Rosebud River as critical habitat.

Collisions with vehicles are among the top five reasons for the bank swallow’s decline. Now a racetrack will be built right in one of its last remaining refuges in the province.

The construction of a racetrack not only threatens bank swallow breeding habitat along the riverbank, it will permanently destroy several wetlands, which bank swallow rely on for foraging, and provide habitat for many other species.

AWA has previously written to oppose development in the Rosebud Valley, which also contains undisturbed natural areas and is within an identified Ecologically Significant Area.

“We can’t afford to lose any more of the prairie habitat,”says Ruiping Luo, AWA Conservation Specialist, “especially not in areas confirmed to be critical habitat for at-risk species, such as the bank swallow.”

This decision is shortsighted and will leave long-lasting damage in an already endangered ecosystem. The protection of the disappearing prairie habitat and endangered species such as bank swallow should be a priority.

For more information, contact Ruiping Luo (rluo@abwild.ca; 403-283-2025) or see Save the Rosebud’s news release.

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The winds will blow their own freshness into you, 

and the storms their energy,
 while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
- John Muir
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