Ducks Unlimited soars

To Ducks Unlimited, which recently announced a major focus on conserving and enhancing wetlands in the Pine Lake area.

To Ducks Unlimited, which recently announced a major focus on conserving and enhancing wetlands in the Pine Lake area.

That promising news came on the heels of criticism levelled against the provincial government for ignoring our wetlands. Carolyn Campbell of the Alberta Wilderness Association said the province promised in 2003 in its Water for Life strategy that a wetland policy would be in place by 2007.

Last week, the government unveiled its renewed Water for Life plan, which commits itself to a wetland policy by, perhaps, 2012.

That’s unacceptable, as Campbell observes. A wetlands policy is vital in protecting a diverse ecosystem that sustains the wildlife community that can only be found in undisturbed areas. Time is of the essence.

That’s where Ducks Unlimited steps in.

“One of the reasons we’re focusing on the Pine Lake area is it is one of the best waterfowl areas and highest density of wetlands in Alberta,” said DU’s conservation and programs specialist, Darwin Chambers. “We have a really good situation where we have all these wetlands” and a good base of perennial cover, “which makes it one of the best places for waterfowl in the spring.”

But that aside, DU and environmentalists have long recognized the value of wetlands — beyond the wildlife communities they support. Those potholes of water one sees from a country road drive significantly to the lands that surround them.

They capture spring runoff, offering an oasis to floral and fauna and preventing erosion to freshly-seeded fields. Runoff is also filtered, recharging ground water supplies. And the list goes on.

Thankfully, there are groups and individuals that recognize the urgency in sustaining such a valuable character of this area’s natural region, which others in higher powers may see only as “just another slough.”

To the United States Defence Security Service, which spent two years on high alert, secretly investigating Canada as a national security threat because of a cleverly hid radio transmitter the Canucks were using to infiltrate the bowels of the American defence bureaucracy.

In late 2006 and early 2007, espionage warnings from the U.S. Defence Department caused an international sensation over reports of mysterious Canadian coins carrying radio transmitters.

What a bunch of paranoid buffoons. The coin in question was the commemorative quarter that Canada issued in honour of our troops, known as the “poppy quarter.”

The red poppy in the middle of the coin was feared by U.S. security think-thanks as “nanotechnology,” cleverly hiding a listening device. (Remember, it was this security team that recently allowed an uninvited couple into a posh party hosted by President Barack Obama.)

At the height of the investigation, senior Pentagon officials speculated whether Canada was involved in a spy caper.

They were concerned that some of their troops closely involved with our troops were found in possession of some of the 30 million such quarters that the Canadian mint produced to honour Canada’s 117,000 war dead.

Try to make sense out of this email marked “Secret/NoForn” from the Pentagon’s deputy director of counterintelligence. It was discovered that Canadian counterparts who regularly met with U.S. officials inside bug-free meeting rooms (aka SKIFs) could have been carrying these quarters. “Isn’t the Canadian piece (the quarter) something that should be briefed to Northcom since Canadians sit in their SKIFs?”

The Pentagon’s acting director of counterintelligence replied: “Good point. It is possible that DSS (the U.S. Defence Security Service) sent their report to Northcom. Then again, I don’t think it is an issue of the Canadians being the bad guys, but then again, who knows.”

Who knows? Good grief. It’s the clowns at U.S. security who should be asking who knows what after the 25-cent gaffe.

It’s one thing that the U.S. initially blamed Canada for 9/11 by alleging that we allowed terrorists into the U.S. through our “slack” border gates (which, of course, was bull dung).

But to dub our commemorative quarter as a security threat takes the cake. Their ignorance overshadows the temptation to call it an insult.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

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