A winter of discontent

The winter of our discontent has suddenly taken us amidships and unawares, putting readers — anglers, hunters, or not -— into dark, or at least critical moods.

The winter of our discontent has suddenly taken us amidships and unawares, putting readers — anglers, hunters, or not -— into dark, or at least critical moods.

Many readers are annoyed by the tendency of premier Redford to say what it took to get elected but exactly the opposite once she got in.

Other than the PC pension hog wallow, most cited example is of Ms. Redford, just before the election, vetoing Potatogate, the sale of 16,000 acres of priceless native grassland to an alleged party supporter, then, in mid-October, in Red Deer, saying that a Bill before the Legislature to prevent such public land sweet steals in the future “is not legislation that our caucus supports.”

So, what else is new, but why would she say it? There was no need.

The legislation in question, Bill 202, the Public Lands (Grasslands Preservation) Amendment Act, is an excellent Bill introduced by her own Calgary Nose-Hill Tory backbencher, Dr. Neil Brown, but, as a Private Members’ Bill, has zero chance of passage.

Increasingly, our Premier comes on as a motor-mouth who just has to rev it before her brain is in gear.

On the weekend, the Alberta PCs got rid of the absurd preferential ballot that gave us Premier Stalemate (as several readers prefer to call him) and now more of the same in Ms. Redford.

That will have to do, until a majority of Albertans believes that any government at all will be better than what we’ve endured since Peter Lougheed retired 27 years ago.

l Ever wondered about those big tanker trucks sucking water out of your favorite trout stream? Reader Ken Collier forwards an article, “Dogpound Creek, Premier Trout Stream, Loses Water to Fracking!” from the “Stream Tender” blog of Guy Woods, an environmental consultant and fly fisherman, which sheds almost too much light on the water withdrawal subject.

Over the years, major money and effort has turned a damaged Dogpound back into a prime brown and brook trout stream, similar to what was done with the North Raven River, Alberta’s First Buck for Wildlife project, back in the ‘70’s.

Late last summer Woods learned that Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development had approved eight Temporary Diversion Licences to three energy companies to withdraw 69,000 cubic meters of water from tiny Dogpound during 2012.

Worse, Woods reveals, 37,000 cubic meters were approved for withdrawal in February and March when water levels are at their lowest and eggs from brown and brook trout spawning are still incubating.

Woods notes the irony that one “arm” of SRD, Fish and Wildlife, had done so much to protect and improve the Dogpound fishery, while another, Water Resources, has approved pumping permits that will harm the fishery.

Woods does not mention that this sort of stupidity will get even worse, now that the government has lopped off the Fish and Wildlife “arm.”

What happens to that water?

Woods says “it was poisoned with chemicals and pumped underground for the extraction of hydrocarbons; a hell of a use for clean water that has been stolen from a healthy trout stream!”

It gets even worse.

As I write, a reader emails that Bill 2, now before the Legislature, “promises to remove the Environment Ministry out of the environment business,” and give it to the Energy Resources Conservation Board that is mainly funded by the industry it is supposed to be regulating.

The Bill, the reader says, gives the board absolute power to licence withdrawal of countless millions of gallons of water for fracking purposes.

We are doomed, unless we can survive drinking the substances the ERCB can’t seem to control being “pipelined” into our rivers, lakes and streams.

l The sudden arrival of winter has not put hunters in quite the evil moods I would have expected.

The wild pheasant season was shaping up as a bust by its second day, well before the first blizzard blew in, but, by then, ruffed grouse hunters from widely varying areas were reporting good hunting.

Early fall-winter has been great for those who still hunt ducks and geese.

My old septuagenarian friend and faithful reader, Don Hayden, went after mallards for the first time in ages, then stopped by to give me the first perfectly plucked and cleaned mallard I have had in years.

That bird and I have a hot date with my late mom’s legendary method for roasted Prairie Boy Duck.

Don was en route to Hay River, his ancestral stomping grounds, where he took a young moose and a ten-point whitetail buck.

That was the only success story I was hearing, until the weather started moderating recently.

So far, nobody is sending me shots of dead critters but, strangely, many live pictures, including huge bull elk on the Suffield Reserve, where the government recently announced seasons on cows in an effort to control the herd, and an amazing shot of an awesome mule deer buck in August velvet, allegedly taken by a horseback rider, on the Blood Reserve.

Bob Scammell is an award-winning columnist who lives in Red Deer. He can be reached at bscam@telusplanet.net.