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Y2Y Has High Expectations Ahead of North Saskatchewan RAC Advice

Y2Y is calling on the government of Alberta to protect the province’s headwaters.

June 29, 2016

Canmore, AB - The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is calling on the government of Alberta to protect the province’s headwaters by ensuring the highest level of conservation is applied in the North Saskatchewan Regional Land Use Plan (NSRP). Y2Y expects that the province will soon release the draft recommendations report of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for the NSRP. 

“How the province responds to the RAC advice will set the tone for all future land use plans in the province,” says Stephen Legault, Program Director for Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories for Y2Y. “It will also decide the fate of Edmonton’s headwaters.”

“The provincial government has inherited a backlog of plans and strategies,” says Legault. “With the release of the grizzly bear recovery plan and the caribou recovery strategy, we’re starting to see that the log jam left by the previous government is being cleared. We hope that the NSRP is next.”

The RAC for the NSRP is composed of 27 individuals who live, work and/or recreate in the North Saskatchewan region. They were appointed by the Cabinet and are led by a Chair who represents the Government of Alberta. The draft recommendations report for the NSRP was submitted by the RAC to the previous provincial government in November of 2014 but they have not be released to the public yet.

“Our expectations for headwaters conservation are very high,” says Legault. “We want the province to clearly indicate it will protect the 5,000 sq km Bighorn region from industrial uses such as coal mining and commercial logging as part of the NSRP. Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is also a significant concern in the Bighorn.”

The Bighorn is located on Alberta’s majestic Eastern Slopes, adjacent to Banff and Jasper National Parks. Nordegg is the nearest community, and the area provides nearly 90% of the City of Edmonton’s safe drinking water via the North Saskatchewan River.

“We’d like to see a detailed assessment of the watershed and ecosystem values of the Eastern Slopes, including the Bighorn, before the province decides the best place for OHV activity to occur. Keeping motorized vehicles out of our headwaters, where threatened bull trout live, and where grizzly bears are recovering, is critical. Driving OHVs through Edmonton’s drinking water source is simply wrong.”

Legault notes that the Bighorn region is like a constantly replenishing well and that its clean, clear water enriches the lives and livelihoods of everybody who lives, works and plays downstream. “This is the sort of place where nature and water must come first.”


For further comment, contact:

Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director – Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories
(cell) 403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net