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Groups call for Day of Action for Kananaskis headwaters

Conservation and community groups are calling on members of the public to join a Day of Action for the Highwood River and Kananaskis Country on Thursday, September 7.

Conservation and community groups are calling on members of the public to join a Day of Action for the Highwood River and Kananaskis Country on Thursday, September 7.

“Approvals for logging roads into the headwaters of the Highwood River near Highwood House could be issued any day,” says Stephen Legault, program director for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).

“Clear cut logging on the slopes of Hell’s Ridge, and in Etherington and Zephyr Creeks could start this autumn. If we’re going to pause this logging, Albertans need to act now. We’re asking Albertans to call the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry to request that this logging be put on hold so that Albertans can be part of a conversation about how forestry should occur in our headwaters.”

Nearly 90% of Alberta’s water comes from just 10% of its land base. Kananaskis Country provides water for Calgary and many other southern Alberta communities.

Y2Y and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) have released a short animated video highlighting the need to call. The video was created by local Calgary animator Michael Kohlweg. It opens with a fictional member of the Minister’s staff answering a phone call and hearing only the sound of burbling water. A narrator says “Headwaters can’t call. You can. Be heard for headwaters.” 

“BC-based Balcaen Contracting has a five year quota for cutting the forests around Highwood Junction,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director for CPAWS southern Alberta. “They have proposed cutting the entire quota this year. We are asking the Minister to hold off on approvals for road building and timber harvest until Albertans can have their say on this matter. A sub-regional plan for Kananaskis Country, mandated by the previous government-approved South Saskatchewan Regional Land Use Plan (SSRP) will take place in the next year. We can discuss conservation of our headwaters then and Balcaen will still have the opportunity to log if Albertan’s decide that’s what they want.”

In addition to Balcaen’s logging in the Highwood Junction region, Cochrane-based Spray Lake Sawmills has extensive logging plans for the Cataract Creek, Willow Creek, Sullivan Creek and Sheep River region.

“Approvals for this logging and for the current SSRP were made under a previous government,” says Legault. “This NDP government came to power promising better conservation of our natural resources. We’ve seen some progress on this, such as protection of the Castle Wildland, but this government has a long way to go before its work is done. 76% of Calgarians favour conservation over logging in Kananaskis Country. This should be an easy decision for a government that has such an important relationship with Calgary.”

The groups hope the Day of Action will generate phone calls to the Minster of Agriculture and Forestry, and provide the support the Alberta government needs to see in order to pause all clear cut logging in Kananaskis pending further discussions with First Nations, community groups, municipalities and conservation groups.

For further comments please contact:

Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative Program Director for Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories
403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net

Katie Morrison, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Southern Alberta Chapter Conservation Director
403-463-6337 | kmorrison@cpaws.org

For additional resources visit: www.loveyourheadwaters.ca