Press Release: Draft Land Use Plan for Southern Alberta Fails on Conservation

Calgary, AB – The draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) fails Albertans because it does not address the government’s stated goal to reduce land-use conflict, Alberta conservation groups said today.

“This plan promised to reduce land use conflict, but it doesn’t do that in any way,” said Wendy Francis, Program Director at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y). “There is nothing new for conservation in this draft plan. The only thing the plan accomplishes from a conservation point of view is that areas previously protected by policy are now going to be protected by legislation. This is pretty much a slap in the face for conservation.”

“Over 100,000 messages were sent to the Premier asking for the entire Castle watershed to be protected, from the valley bottom to the mountaintops,” said Carolyn Aspeslet, of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC). “Yet this plan protects only the highest elevations, which already were protected under 1985 Castle Integrated Resource Plan.”

“We hoped the SSRP would establish an urgently-needed system of protected areas with corridors between them to allow wildlife movements, but unfortunately it does absolutely nothing to address connectivity for wildlife,” said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in Southern Alberta (CPAWS).

“The SSRP provides strategic direction for conservation but the implementation plan is non-binding and the regulatory details allow much development,” said Adam Driedzic of the Environmental Law Centre. “Gaps identified by the Land Use Framework remain.”

“During consultations on the land-use planning process, 80% of participants wanted to see limits on growth and resource development in order to protect water quality, biodiversity and wildlife habitat,” said Sean Nichols of the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA). “Instead the government has opted out of addressing the imbalance between resource development and conservation.”

Without prescriptive measures or defined thresholds of human development (like road densities, water quality and quantity guidelines, and defined wildlife connectivity corridors), conservation groups say the plan cannot accomplish what it set out to do – balance environmental, economic, and cultural needs.

Carolyn Aspeslet, CCWC: 403.632.9721
Wendy Francis, Y2Y: 403.431.2862
Sean Nichols, AWA: 403.283.2025
Adam Driedzic, ELC: 403.678.6835
Katie Morison, CPAWS: 403.463.6337

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