Protecting resources and environment: we do one task at the risk of the other

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.

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.

Just Posted

Half of City of Red Deer employees earn $75,000-plus, data shows

Salaries of 1,441 full- and part-time workers were counted

Canadian recording legends to rock Red Deer’s Westerner Days Friday

Streetheart, Headpins and Holly Wood and Toronto perform tonight

Missing Calgary man spent time in Red Deer

Calgary Police Service seek public’s assistance

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

VICTORIA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is open to proposals… Continue reading

Oil price rises on Mideast tensions, stock markets cautious

BANGKOK — The price of oil rose on Friday after the U.S.… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Golf Canada’s 2020 Olympic preparations on track with qualifying formula helping

Fifteen years ago, golfers didn’t have to worry about making the Olympics.… Continue reading

Canadian women confirmed for second trip to Rugby League World Cup

TORONTO — Canada has been confirmed as one of eight women’s teams… Continue reading

Tom Cruise surprises Comic-Con with ‘Top Gun’ sequel trailer

SAN DIEGO — Tom Cruise has made an unexpected flyby at San… Continue reading

Warm memories, hit singles: Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings reunite for charity show

TORONTO — Former Guess Who bandmates Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings reunited… Continue reading

Calgary Stampeders bounce back with 26-16 win over Toronto Argonauts

Stampeders 26 Argonauts 16 CALGARY — Juwan Brescacin hauled in a pair… Continue reading

Chris Sale snaps Fenway losing streak, beats Blue Jays 5-0

Red Sox 5 Blue Jays 0 BOSTON — That was a relief.… Continue reading

Critics and industry clash over accuracy of Alberta well cleanup cost estimates

CALGARY — An Alberta coalition that says oil and gas producers are… Continue reading

Rapelling from great heights to grant Red Deer wishes

Twenty brave individuals will rappel 13 storeys down Stantec Executive Place on… Continue reading

Most Read