“Gravel pit turning into wetlands” (May 26 Red Deer Advocate) presents a story about Lacombe County declaring a gravel pit will be reclaimed to become wetlands, raising some important points.
Wetlands are not just hollows filled with dirt and water. The government of Alberta has a wetlands policy, found on the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance website, defining them as “lands saturated with water long enough to promote formation of water altered soils, growth of water tolerant vegetation, and various kinds of biological activity that are adapted to the wet environment.”
The project outlined is hard to accept as a reclamation since it makes no pretense of returning the land to its original character or quality. Beside the lack of earth science behind this novel, probably non-regulatory, approach to gravel pits, the declaration transforming one type of land and water formation into another opens a subsequent can of worms. (Yes, worms can live and adapt to a wet environment.)
Given the lack of enforcement rigour by the government of Alberta, and the dumping of responsibility for water and the environment onto municipalities, may counties now simply declare a gravel pit or other human-created feature to become anything it pleases? Can a gravel pit become a hazardous waste dump if the county approves? May a quarry be used to store old road tar surfacing or worn out tires?
If environmental rules mean anything at all, surely there has to be some recognition that pit owners, operators or the municipalities are not free to do whatever they please with them, or define them out of existence.
Ken Collier, treasurer
Council of Canadians
Red Deer and area chapter