KANANASKIS: Calgary's headwaters open to logging, oil & gas

Kananaskis Country is a network of Provincial Parks, Wildland Parks, Recreation Areas and Public Land Use Zones west of Calgary and south of Banff National Park. Totalling more than 4,200 square kilometres, Kananaskis Country is five times bigger than the City of Calgary.

Although it is a vital headwaters region and one of Canada’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation, significant portions of Kananaskis are open to industrial development.


A vital piece of the Rocky Mountain puzzle

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Kananaskis includes the headwaters of the Sheep, Elbow, Pekisko, Spray and Kananaskis Rivers, forming a significant piece of the Bow and South Saskatchewan River watersheds that serve millions of people in water-stressed Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The region contains vital habitat and key movement corridors for cougars, wolves, grizzlies, elk, cutthroat trout and other vulnerable species.

Tourism in Kananaskis draws over one million visitors, supports 3,000 full-time jobs, and provides $200 million of economic impact annually. The region lies within Treaty 7 lands in the territories of Ĩyãħé Nakoda (Stoney), Kainai (Blood), and Siksika (Blackfoot) Nations, and within Region 3 of the Métis Nation of Alberta.


UNDER THREAT from industrial-scale development

Approximately 36% of Kananaskis is open to commercial logging and 25% to oil and gas development. Most of those vulnerable lands are found at low elevations near major waterways, in areas that hold high value for water, wildlife, and tourism.

The threats are immediate: BC-based Balcaen Consolidated has a timber quota of 430 hectares of clearcuts near Highwood Junction. At the same time, Spray Lake Sawmills is undertaking a new 20-year plan that includes logging around Clearwater Creek.

Recent logging below the Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve in the Cataract Creek area of the Highwood River drainage.

Recent logging below the Plateau Mountain Ecological Reserve in the Cataract Creek area of the Highwood River drainage.


PROtecting THe other half of Kananaskis

We want to see the remaining unprotected half of Kananaskis managed for headwaters protection and a sustainable restoration and tourism economy that supports gateway communities like Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Longview. We support local residents calling for the province to postpone logging near Highwood Junction until Albertans have had opportunity to examine potential impacts on our water, wildlife, recreation, and economy.

Thousands of people enjoy the Kananaskis landscape each year, but few of them know that it is not fully protected. Photo credit: Stephen Legault.

Thousands of people enjoy the Kananaskis landscape each year, but few of them know that it is not fully protected. Photo credit: Stephen Legault.


WHAT CAN YOU DO?

There are many things you can do to help protect Alberta headwaters:

 

  • Donate to Alberta headwaters conservation

  • Call 403.310.0000 and ask for your MLA. Let them know that protecting Kananaskis Country, and specifically the Highwood Valley, against further logging is important to you!

  • Write Shannon Phillips, the Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks, and let her know that her Ministry did a great job of protecting the Castle, and that the next logical step is to protect vulnerable lands and waterways in Kananaskis Country.


Photo credit: Stephen Legault.

Photo credit: Stephen Legault.