By Liz Bruckner
“I’ve been bouncing throughout the province for the past few weeks, and based on the environmental happenings I’ve been privy to, I’ll just say it – I’m about to get on my soapbox and ramble,” says Michael Short, host of Let’s Go Outdoors.
One such happening is a new project by Husky Oil in Prairie Creek, located approximately 45 minutes southwest of Rocky Mountain House.
“What’s going on here is, Husky Oil has decided to rip out a culvert with the intent to improve the passageways of the creek so fish can move upstream easier,” says Short.
“In a part of the stream that most people likely don’t know is there, this company decided – on their own, mind you, without anyone asking or telling them to take on the task – to work with organizations like Trout Unlimited Canada to bring in biologists to catalogue the kind of fish calling the stream home, and to best determine how to make the stream easier for thousands of fish to travel and thrive.”
On the flip side, not one hour east of Prairie Creek is a different story.
In a sector of land currently producing wheat, a large corporation has purchased the area with the intent to turn the site into a gravel and asphalt pit.
“On the surface, having this land morph into an area in which to mine gravel is no big deal,” says Short. But upon closer inspection, you’ll discover there are two conservation sites literally across the road from the proposed area, and within both of these sites is a bubbling pure spring water location.
“Assuming the gravel pit comes to fruition, what this potentially means for these small springs remains unclear. There is a chance the aquifer could be altered by the mining process. This could have a negative effect on these small streams that are critical fish rearing areas to the larger North Raven River,” says Short, adding that if the peculating ground water is affected, it can impact the water and ultimately the habitat of the entire conservation site.
While there’s talk of the purchasing company taking preventative measures to protect the land – they’ve publicized that they plan to avoid mining below the water table – Short says it’s not enough.
“It’s positive that they recognize the important connection of mining and the potential impact they may have on the water flow, but it should also be of great concern that the removal of hundreds of tons of gravel from this pit could be hugely problematic because no one knows if it could alter the ground water flow,” he says.
Currently, a decision on whether the county will allow the gravel pit implementation to proceed is ongoing and includes input from the public, Trout Unlimited Canada, the Alberta Conservation Association and Alberta Fish and Game Association.
“The big issue the county has to consider is this: we cannot balance our requirements for resources in exchange for maintaining good habitat. Is giving up this pristine area that brings in hundreds of anglers from around North America, and that provides homes for elk, moose, deer, birds and countless water fowl really worth losing for pavement production?”