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Policy That Uses Nature as Its Ally

We need you to call for it!

Fires in Colorado; high temperatures in British Columbia shatter old records; 520 confirmed tornados in the United States, and unprecedented flooding in Germany, France, India, southern Alberta and Toronto – these and other extreme weather events are the likely result of climate change.

Bowness Volunteers
Thousands of volunteers helped clean-up the debris from the flood.

The first-hand experience we in Canmore had with extreme weather this summer is causing all of us to think differently. We are questioning where we build new developments; what role intact nature reserves play in reducing the impacts of large storms, and how public policy can help prevent or exacerbate the effects of climate change on our communities.

An opportunity to use policy as a solution is at hand here in Alberta and you can help make it a reality.

Effective Policy Could Help with Future Flooding - South Saskatchewan Regional Plan

The provincial government is currently engaged in land-use planning for the southern half of the province. The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) could determine what lands and waters we protect, where we will and won’t log, where we do and don’t build roads to search for oil and gas, and more.

If done right, it can alleviate some of the impacts that wild fluctuations in weather, predicted to occur as a result of a changing climate, might have. Massive floods and hard droughts are just two of these impacts good public policy might help buffer.

Nature Is Our Ally

An intact forest does three things with water: it soaks it up, slows it down, and spreads it out. This suggests that we can reduce the impacts of flooding events by retaining healthier, intact forests in our headwaters. Y2Y is asking the Alberta Government to craft the SSRP to use nature as an ally to reduce the impacts of future flooding.

Castle - Legault
Castle Watershed, one of the areas that Y2Y is seeking protection for in the SSRP. Photo credit - Stephen Legault

Others Agree

Other experts also point to better land use management as a means to deal with our changing climate.

Dr. John Weaver of Wildlife Conservation Society recently published a report that assessed the conservation values of southwest Alberta, from Kananaskis Country to the Canada-US border and east to Highway 22.

It detailed how current land use management practices undermine southern Alberta’s capacity to withstand unforeseen natural events, like floods. It also recommended protecting 40% of the study area, including the entire Castle River watershed, from logging, oil and gas activity and motorized recreation.

Livingstone Range
Southern Alberta's Livingstone Range is important for wildlife connectivity and headwater protection. The draft plan only protects high elevation areas. Y2Y would like it protected from valley bottoms to mountain tops. (Photo by Stephen Legault)

Former superintendent of Banff National Park, Kevin Van Tighem, highlighted the need to manage logging appropriately, to allow beavers to build natural dams, and to restrict motorized recreation to ecologically appropriate areas in an article published in the summer edition of Alberta Views. These efforts would help restore a more natural flow of water from our headwaters to the grasslands, and reduce the impacts of what we all know will be increasingly frequent droughts and floods.

Your Input Can Make the Difference

This policy is Alberta’s best shot to help reduce the impacts of extreme weather.

There is still time to influence the contents of the draft SSRP; everyone from Alberta, North America and beyond needs to voice their opinion to the Alberta government. It’s time to stand up and ensure that government plans for the resilience of our communities and ecosystems.

Four measures can make the difference. They include:

1.    An end to clear-cut logging in the headwaters of Alberta’s streams and rivers, with an addition of alternative logging approaches.

2.    Protect landscapes like the entire Castle River watershed and the Livingstone Range from the valley bottoms to the peaks.

3.    Protect all headwaters from inappropriate motorized recreation.

4.    Decrease the overall number of roads and motorized trails on the Eastern Slopes.

Send your message to the:

McQueen, Diana, Honourable
Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Members of Executive Council
Executive Branch
204 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6

Phone: 780 427-2391
Fax: 780 422-6259

Here at Y2Y, we want to ensure that this plan protects our headwaters, our homes, our livelihoods, and our right to clean water, and recreational opportunities. We want to learn from what’s just happened and seize the opportunity to build a plan that ensures healthy headwater ecosystems and safe downstream communities. We thank you in advance for your support!

To learn more about the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan read:

Alberta's Great Flood of 2013

Four Birds, One Stone

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