Protecting resources and environment

As long as the provincial government is unwilling to address sensitive environmental concerns, the public must rely on conservation groups to take up the slack.

As long as the provincial government is unwilling to address sensitive environmental concerns, the public must rely on conservation groups to take up the slack.

It’s a formula that delays reaction to problems, and inevitably leads to ecological decay.

When hundreds of waterfowl were found dead a few years ago in a tailings pond at a Fort McMurray-area site, a contingent of high-profile conservation groups took up the case and brought it to court. In the end, fines were levied and safeguards to prevent similar occurrences were put in place.

In Alberta’s northern boreal forests, human intrusion on extremely sensitive habitat needed to sustain the woodland caribou took its toll and their future was in peril. Again, conservation groups took on the issue because the province and the federal government initially ignored warnings from the experts. Safeguards to protect and bolster the herds are now in place.

Why does the province consistently turn a blind eye to serious conservation matters? Must Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development be embarrassed by conservation groups into taking action?

For years, the province has ignored warnings that the grizzly bear population in the West Country is dwindling, again due human intrusion and destruction of valuable habitat.

As a result of an extensive study by conservation groups, it was determined that grizzlies were in big trouble — something the province had denied for years.

And now strict guidelines are in place to protect the bears.

In Southern Alberta, sage grouse are near extinction. Conservation groups struggled mightily to get the province to hear the alarm. Finally, the government is listening, but it may be too late. Experts outside government influence predict the grouse is certain to face extinction.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada recently announced the purchase of rare Central Alberta lands in order to preserve their natural states.

These parcels are vital to sustain delicate floral and fauna, but again a conservation group has had to take action.

Over the last year, the non-profit land trust purchased eight properties in Central Alberta totalling 2,000 acres, at a cost of more than $5.2 million. Benefiting will be the Red Deer River Natural Area, which encompasses Pine Lake, Gull Lake and Goosequill/Hummock Lakes.

Development has now been banned in those areas and human access is by foot only.

Most important is the Fyten-Lea property, 131 acres along the along the west banks of the Red Deer River west of Big Valley. It offers ideal habitat for ungulates and rare plants.

Prior to the purchase of these properties by the Nature Conservancy, using a fund established by the federal government and TransCanada Corp., some of the land was being ripped apart by ATV users.

Among the many goals identified by Premier Alison Redford in May, after winning an overwhelming majority in the April 23 provincial election, was this mandate for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development: “developing our natural resources responsibly to protect our environment and grow our markets.”

It would be fair to suggest that developing resources and protecting the environment do not always go hand in hand.

History shows this province has always put resource development ahead of protecting the environment.

Until the province finds a better balance, and the initiative to take the lead before disasters present themselves, we can expect more instances of environmental calamity.

And eventually, great swathes of our environment will no longer be sustainable.

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Third Albertan dies, 46 cases in central zone

A third Albertan has died from COVID-19, province announced Sunday. Forty additional… Continue reading

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Vaccine not expected until January 2021 for COVID-19, video posted on Alberta premier’s Facebook page shows

Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw discuss vaccines

Red Deer: Put a bear in your window so kids can count them

Red Deer woman wants kids to go on ‘bear hunt’

City of Red Deer asks residents to help protect the pipes

Products that can cause blockages include towel, diapers, food scraps and fat, oil and grease

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

‘Worse than any flu’: Canadians describe how it feels to have COVID-19

“I woke up with a little scratch in my throat and started trying to cough it up”

Feds rolling out help for charities hit hard by COVID-19 economic slowdown

OTTAWA — The federal government signalled Sunday it is shifting the focus… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Thousands have already lost their jobs, while others like grocers look for ways to keep doors open

Athletes, musicians help raise 500,000 euros to fight virus

“It’s a very difficult situation, and for the league to be able to do something like this, it makes players, clubs and fans very proud”

Tokyo Olympics: Signs suggest summer dates for 2021 Olympics

Organizing committee suggested there would be no major change from 2020.

Most Read