What’s happened during the past three decades? The pace at which the headwaters of the Oldman watershed is being destroyed has accelerated. It’s done this by leaps and bounds.
Today, the public land that surrounds me, scarred and bleeding, can no longer tolerate more damage. It cries for battlefield triage.
I live on a thrust-faulted, topographically tortured Crown of the Continent landscape. Here in the headwaters of the Oldman, land-use planning is in progress. Meaningful change must occur. Beyond my front door, the waterways, degraded in a wholesale way by decades of OHV abuses and other forms of maltreatment, are muddy, choked with sediment. They’re failing to sustain Alberta’s native trout.
I know that I speak for countless Albertans when I report witnessing constant decline in the land’s ecosystem health. I’ve lost every personal effort to reverse the situation. And now, as a general rule of conduct, I avoid the once-cherished public lands in my backyard to find, far from home, the peace, tranquility, and landscape integrity that, not long ago, was available at my doorstep.
Almost 90 percent of Albertans - they send a strong and unequivocal message—want more wilderness lands protected from development and damage.
I shed tears every time I revisit old and treasured haunts in the headwaters of the Oldman. It’s here, on the land I moved to so that I could embrace it on a daily basis, that I’ve endured the painful and rutted imprint of government-sanctioned abuse. Unfathomably, and yet undeniably, it's been allowed to occur. I’ve witnessed watershed and ecological losses that are nothing short of staggering.
I read, recently, words written by Gary Clark, president of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad. What struck me as profound, was his mention of his time in this community (Crowsnest Pass). The stated time: five years. In other words, Mr. Clark arrived after the Oldman’s waterways had already been severed by thousands - literally thousands - of OHV stream crossings, … and after native trout—identified species-at-risk - had been reduced to a small fraction of their former range. Think about that for a long minute.
I step forward armed with the belief that meaningful headwaters restoration can occur, and I do it with the vision that future generations can experience, here in the headwaters of the Oldman, a brand of watershed health and integrity that OHV advocate Gary Clark has never seen.
It’s time for everyone to step into the mud. It’s time for everyone to find truth, accept responsibility, and pursue—and contribute to—a responsible course of corrective action.
Stand tall Alberta. Join me. It’s time to throw a lifeline to the Oldman.