Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cutthroats on the flanks of the Livingstone Range

David McIntyre, letter to the Editor

The following letter, modified slightly for public presentation, was written to the MD of Pincher Creek, and copied to Premier Alison Redford, ESRD Minister Diana McQueen, the MD of Ranchland and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass:

Staff and volunteers from Cows and Fish, assisted by fisheries biologists and others, delivered a Living with a Cutthroat workshop on a headwaters tributary of Todd Creek (Willow Valley) on Thursday, October 18th. The educational field day—it attracted roughly 40 participants—showcased Alberta's threatened westslope cutthroat, this province's only native trout, a species that, once ranging as far east as Calgary and Lethbridge, is now found on only 5% of its former range.

The attached picture looks southwest across the Livingstone Range into the headwaters of the Crowsnest River, part of the Oldman Watershed. It's here that ESRD's plans to clearcut the Todd Creek headwaters, home to the threatened cutthroats, … the cherished, logo-depicted landscape the Oldman Watershed Council chose to represent its headwaters ideal.

The group met at the Willow Valley Schoolhouse and spent most of the afternoon on the spectacular eastern flanks of the Livingstone Range, where, beneath the world's greatest concentration of migrating golden eagles, the threatened cutthroat trout still swim, their backs against the wall of the iconic, knife-edge mountain range. (Two movies were recently filmed in the same area.)

It seems almost inconceivable that this drop-dead-gorgeous, Crown of the Continent landscape, home to ancient and endangered limber pines and rare rough fescue grasslands, threatened grizzly bears and more, is on the province's chopping block, scheduled to be clearcut by ESRD, the same department entrusted with the protection of the threatened cutthroats and grizzlies. And yet, surprisingly, this low-value, landscape-degrading logging isn't the only threat. The same drop-dead-gorgeous viewscape has also been targeted by industry due to a thin seam of low-value ore … and it's been mapped by AltaLink as the ideal—valueless—landscape through which to construct overhead transmission lines.

While the province has failed to give the Livingstone Range protection and affirm its internationally recognized wealth of heritage values, the MD of Pincher Creek, the MD of Ranchland, and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass have the opportunity to lead Alberta into the future, and demand that the province protect what's left of its diminishing wealth in natural capital. The landscapes of southwestern Alberta are worth billions … if they can be saved.

A relevant aside: The Willow Valley workshop exposed many participants to ongoing construction along the North Burmis Rd. Some of those in attendance commented on the surprising and disturbing industrial scale of this upgrade, and its potential—via sedimentation—to impact trout habitat in Rock Creek and the internationally acclaimed Crowsnest River.

I ask for your help in saving the eastern flanks of the Livingstone Range for future generations.


David McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes there is times when all the money in the world will not replace what once was. There was a mention that:
    "The landscapes of southwestern Alberta are worth billions … if they can be saved."
    When a dollar value is put on the land than that is all that people see rather than the grandeur and beauty that is all around us to enjoy. Their is no price tag large enough for the priceles peace of mind and stress relief these mountain vistas provide. Also priceles are the almost extinct wildlife like the cutthroat trout with their fins(backs) against the Livingstone Range that the Alberta ESRD are supposed to be protecting. Why is the Alberta ERSD dragging their feet on this as well as other issues where ATCO and Altalink are concerned. For example the ferruginous hawk near Hannah has also suffered at the hands of the Alberta ERSD and Atco with Alberta ERSD giving permission to ATCO to destroy their nests for construction of power lines across Alberta. It seems that the Alberta ERSD is a department in name only as it rubber stamps ATCO projects without thought of the environment that they are supposed to protect. Those billions mentioned are they the ones that seem to be going into the ERSD pockets in order to turn their eyes and put their heads in the sand in order to allow the wanton destruction of habit and species into extinction?


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