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News Release: Province must cancel coal leases if it’s serious about improving recreational experiences

July 4, 2024

The Alberta government has reopened Crescent Falls recreation area after investing to improve it, yet it has not addressed the much larger industrial shadow looming over the area: coal mining.

Crescent Falls, which is about 22 kilometres west of Nordegg in Clearwater County and reopened this past weekend, is entirely surrounded by coal leases. In fact, the number of coal leases in Clearwater County quadrupled in 2020 after the province revoked the 1976 Coal Policy which was originally put in place to protect the Eastern Slopes from mining. Despite the coal moratorium put in place in 2022, the coal leases from 2020 have yet to be cancelled. If mining exploration and development were to proceed in these areas, it would threaten the ecological integrity and recreation value of Crescent Falls recreation area.

AWA applauds improvements to cherished recreational areas, however, we question the province’s desire to have clean and intact recreation areas for Albertans when the government is also allowing these same areas to be put at risk of industrial degradation. The new features in Crescent falls include a bigger parking lot, more pedestrian trails and a falls viewing platform.  According to the Government of Alberta news release, the project at Crescent Falls was part of an investment of more than $12 million to upgrade 13 sites along the David Thompson Corridor. The province has a goal to double tourism by 2035, in part by creating year-round nature-based tourism experiences.

However, taxpayer money going into conservation, recreation, and tourism development seems like money wasted if these areas are allowed to be polluted by industry.

Coal leases (in brown) surrounding Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area.

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To show a commitment to protecting recreation opportunities, the Alberta Government must cancel coal leases in the Eastern Slopes, and permanently protect the Eastern Slopes from coal mining.

Other recent examples of conservation and recreation investments being threatened by industrial development are:

  • The Alberta Government charging a $90 annual fee for conservation and recreation infrastructure in Kananaskis, while allowing industrial clearcut logging in critical habitat for at-risk species and important headwaters forests in the Upper Highwood region of Kananaskis.
  • The Alberta Government allowing industrial clearcut logging in West Bragg Creek – the most used recreation area outside of Parks in the province, despite the millions of dollars invested in the trail system and countless volunteer hours that have gone towards trail building and maintenance.

“Albertans love and respect our wilderness areas, and these special places must be protected from the threat of industrial development,” says Devon Earl, AWA conservation specialist.

“We must dispose of the idea that all activities can be allowed on the landscape without impact to recreation, tourism, and the environment. The completion of regional and sub-regional land use planning in Alberta is sorely needed to achieve landscape objectives that best serve the needs of all Albertans.”

For more information, contact Devon Earl: 403-283-2025,

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