By Katie Morrison,
CPAWS Southern Alberta
You may have heard about the proposed logging at the Highwood Junction in Kananaskis but you may not be as familiar with the dedicated community members working on the ground to change logging plans and gain protection of this special area. The Take a Stand for Kananaskis and the Upper Highwood (TASK) group are regular folks doing remarkable work for our wild areas. Our partnership with these dedicated local stewards helps move conservation forward in ways that none of us could do alone.
CPAWS Southern Alberta, along with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), bring to the table strong knowledge of the science, policy, organizing and conservation strategies while the local residents, trapper, outfitters, hikers, hunters and anglers bring valuable in-depth knowledge of the communities, the history of the area and of the value of the land and water to wildlife, users and the local economy.
At CPAWS Southern Alberta we pride ourselves in working collaboratively with people across the spectrum, but for collaborative conservation to work effectively on the ground, we need good partners that we trust and a joint willingness to stay the course. These passionate advocates have worked tirelessly to gain over 2300 hard-copy and 1600 digital petition signatures, over 50 letters from local businesses and from 5 municipalities expressing concern over the proposed logging, asking for a better assessment of logging plans in the region and higher protection for the area. Their voices have been heard through over 45 newspaper articles, television, news and radio interviews. And while focusing on the local issue, this group sees and brings awareness to the bigger picture of the need to reform forest management throughout the eastern slopes of our Rocky Mountains. This is what grassroots conservation looks like.
While the plans to log the Highwood were approved in November 2017, we have yet to see any signs of road building or harvest. We and our local partners are keeping our eyes open for any coming changes and continuing to work on behalf of our beloved Highwood, Kananaskis and Eastern Slopes.
We see tremendous value in community groups harnessing their passion and local knowledge to work together and protect the places that are important to them. TASK represents a model of community engagement that we have seen to effective. We encourage everyone who cares join together and create a grassroots movement to protect the places that are important to them.
If you are concerned with conservation issues in this region, please consider becoming a CPAWS member by donating through our website and designating the funds for work in southern Alberta.