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Photos from AWA's 50th Anniversary and Hillhurst Cottage School Celebration; June 25, 2015
Photos Credit: Jose Quiroz, Kevin Mihalcheon
14 Photos - View album

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Thanks to all our great supporters for a terrific evening of conversation and celebration of another successful year!
13 Photos - View album

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2015-06-29 AWA News Release: Lakeland: Good Backcountry Decision on Fixed Roof Cabins

Today Alberta Parks announced that proposed fixed roof cabins in Alberta’s only backcountry canoe circuit in Lakeland Provincial Park will not proceed. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) applauds this decision in this important southern boreal wilderness area.

“We congratulate the Alberta government for this decision, recognizing the need for a more intact, backcountry character of the beautiful lakes in Lakeland Provincial Park,” said Christyann Olson, AWA Executive Director. “With numerous nearby alternatives for lakeside RV camping and rental cabins, this relatively non-mechanized regional wilderness area should remain that way for future generations to enjoy and for its important wildlife values.”

Lakeland Provincial Park, created in northeast Alberta in 1992, is an important, relatively wild area in the southern part of Alberta’s large boreal central mixedwood natural subregion. With its diverse topography, water bodies and wetlands, it is unusually rich in biodiversity. The adjacent Provincial Recreation Area emphasizes mechanized recreation to a greater extent, although it still retains important intact areas. These are both significant wildlife refuges in comparison to the surrounding industrializing public lands.

For those seeking fixed-roof camping, there are 200 RV-accessible sites now operated by Alberta Parks in lakeside campgrounds throughout the adjacent Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. There are also numerous privately operated rental cabins in rustic settings in the region. AWA was concerned that the cabins would increase mechanized access pressures and be a step towards urbanizing this significant regional wilderness area. With multiple land use pressures from oil sands, forestry and agriculture, Lakeland Provincial Park will soon be the only relatively unmechanized area in the entire Lakeland region outside parts of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range

For more information:
    Christyann Olson, Alberta Wilderness Association, (403) 283-2025

#Alberta #Lakeland #LakelandProvincialPark #AlbertaParks #cabins #backcountry  

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2015-06-25 AWA's Top 10 Successes in 50 Yeara

AWA is 50 years old! Presentation Slides walk through AWA's top success stories over the last half century.

#AWA #Top10 #50Years #EasternSlopes #grassland #aspenParkland #borealForest #publicLands #sageGrouse #caribou #grizzlyBears #CoalPolicy #WildLandsAdvocate #Alberta  

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2015-04-00 Vol. 23 No. 2 Wild Land Advocate

In this issue:
   - Canada’s Greater Sage-grouse Begin their Long Road to Recovery
   - Greater Sage-grouse: The Business of Building Relationships
   - Canada’s Wildlife Act
   - Science, Uncertainty, and Ethics in the Alberta Wolf Cull
   - West Central Alberta Caribou
   - The Curious Case of the Ronald Lake Bison
   - On the Proposed Introduction of Bison to Banff National Park
   - Conservation Easement on Three Sisters Corridor
   - Focus: Alberta’s Species at Risk -- Yellow-bellied Racer
   - Conservation Corner: The Amazing Flight, and Plight, of the Purple Martin

   - Bless the Children...
   - Provincial Candidates at AWA Water Forum

   - Updates

   - Summer Events

#WildLandsAdvocate #Alberta #SageGrouse #Wildlife #wolves #caribou #bison #Banff #BanffNationalPark #BowValley #YellowBelliedRacer #PurpleMartin #AWA  

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Video from AWA's 50 Anniversary and Hillhurst Cottage School Celebration; June 25, 2015
Video Credit: Alex Spence

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2015-02-00 Vol. 23 No. 1 Wild Lands Advocate

In this issue:
   - Giving up the Ghost?
   - Managing Recreation on Public Land: How does Alberta Compare?
   - Hummingbird to Hope: Trail Monitoring, Management and a Wildland Park in the Bighorn
   - An Impossible Dream?: Biodiversity in Alberta’s Largest Urban Centres
   - A Conservation Easement Goes to Court
   - Flying a Chequered Flag at OHV Races in the Livingstone-Porcupine

   - “Grasslands” – An Inspired Documentary Film
   - AWA’s Wilderness Around the World Series Takes Edmonton Audience on a Fascinating Tour of Namibia_
   - In Memoriam: Bill Hall and Kay Wallis

   - Updates

   - Spring/summer Events

#WildLandsAdvocate #Alberta #OHVs #publicLands #Bighorn #recreation #biodiversity #bison #grasslands #ranching #AWA  

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2015-05-07 AWA News Release: Record-setting $1,500 Fines Levied against OHV Joyriders

In a recent ruling, a judge in Rocky Mountain House assessed two $1,500 fines against off-highway vehicle (OHV) users joyriding in the Clearwater River. This is the highest fine ever levied for this charge in Alberta’s history. As reported in Rocky Mountain House’s The Mountaineer newspaper, the judge in the case expressed disappointment at “the lack of respect the OHV users in [Rocky Mountain House] have for the local environment and wildlife.” AWA applauds both the decision, which represents official recognition of the value of Alberta’s headwaters regions and the damage that is caused by OHV use, as well as the diligence of the local RCMP officers in recording and bringing charges against the joyriders.

“This precedent-setting decision sends a clear signal that the public will not tolerate this kind of wanton destruction of our headwaters,” says Sean Nichols, Conservation Specialist with AWA, “we applaud judicial actions that help secure vital watersheds for future generations.”

Enforcement of environmental regulations in public lands is an ongoing issue along Alberta’s eastern slopes. Long-tasked with the enforcement role, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) has transferred responsibility to Alberta Justice and Solicitor General in 2013. Penalties for destructive recreational practices need this infusion of support from the judiciary.

AWA is encouraged by the initiative shown by Rocky Mountain House RCMP officers in this case, and strongly supports the proposed creation of an RCMP division tasked with enforcement of environmental violations in Alberta’s public lands.

For more information:
   Sean Nichols, AWA Conservation Specialist, 403-283-2025

#Alberta #OHV #headwaters #speciesAtRisk #watersheds #RCMP #enforcement #fines  

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2015-05-01 AWA News Release: Oil and Gas Development Transforming North American Landscapes

Accelerated drilling activity is transforming significant portions of North America's natural landscapes. University of Montana scientists recently released the first broad-scale evaluation of oil and gas industry impacts on landscapes across the U.S. and Canada, including Alberta.

Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) is renewing its call for development limits in sensitive forest and grassland ecosystems and for expanded protected areas networks.

Published in the prestigious journal Science on April 24, 2015, “Ecosystem services lost to oil and gas in North America” concludes that oil and gas development creates significant vegetation loss across broad swaths of North America.

The authors examined an expansive area from the south coast of Texas to northern Alberta. University of Montana lead author Brady Allred states: "When we look at this continental scale picture, we see impacts and degradation that are missed when focusing only at a local scale [and] we see how present policies may potentially compromise future ecosystem integrity over vast areas."

Biomass accumulation has been reduced significantly by the oil and gas industry. Net primary production - which is the amount of carbon fixed by plants and accumulated as biomass - is a fundamental ecosystem service forming the basis for all life, including human food production, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat. Oil and gas activity is removing large amounts of vegetation to construct well pads, roads, pipelines and processing facilities. From 2000 to 2012 the scientists’ estimates reveal that oil and gas development removed approximately 5 million animal unit months (the amount of forage needed for one animal for 1 month) of rangeland vegetation, more than half of the annual available grazing on public lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management.

Fragmentation and habitat loss disrupt wildlife migration, increase wildlife mortality, alter wildlife behavior and assist non-native and harmful invasive plant species. University of Montana co-author Dave Naugle says: “We’ve known about the impacts of oil and gas development for years, but we now have scientific data from a broad regional scale that tells us we need to act now to balance these competing land uses.”

Water is being significantly impacted. The study summary notes: "Nearly half of wells drilled are in extreme or high-water-stress regions. High volume hydraulic fracturing uses 2 million to 13 million gallons of water per well, intensifying competition among agriculture, aquatic ecosystems and municipalities for water resources." Carolyn Campbell, AWA conservation specialist, says: “Water use by Alberta’s oil, gas and oil sands industries is poorly monitored in many areas, without managing cumulative impacts to groundwater, streams, wetlands and threatened native fish.”

Co-author Julia Haggerty of Montana State University emphasizes the need for “a policy framework that quantifies and weighs major tradeoffs at large scales because current policy does not address both assessment and future mitigation adequately.”

University of Montana co-author Steve Running warns: “We must have policies that ensure reclamation of this land after production has ended. Otherwise, by 2050, tens of millions of acres of land will be permanently degraded.”

New drilling technologies have enabled a massive expansion of oil and gas development with 50,000 new wells drilled per year recently in central North America.

AWA has raised many of the same concerns outlined in this study regarding expanding oil and gas developments in Southeastern Alberta, Milk River Ridge, Swan Hills, Little Smoky-Red Rock-Prairie Creek and Oil Sands areas. The impacts are already acutely demonstrated by vanishing populations of Caribou and Greater Sage-grouse, but the larger issues of vegetation loss and stress on freshwater ecosystems have also been highlighted.

Cumulative effects continue to be ignored by Alberta's policy-makers and regulators alike and there are no triggers or limits established for land disturbance in most areas of Alberta.

Cliff Wallis, AWA Secretary-Treasurer, noted: "We need better protection for Alberta's endangered forests and grasslands or our grandchildren may never have a chance to see sage grouse or caribou in the province."
For more information:
   Carolyn Campbell, (403) 921-9519 (cell) or (403) 283-2025
   Cliff Wallis, (403) 607-1970 (cell) or (403) 271-1408

Click through for the full news release, including links to the original report

#Alberta #energy #habitatLoss #oilAndGas #reclamation #MilkRiverRidge #SwanHills #LittleSmoky #oilSands #caribou #sageGrouse #cumulativeEffects  
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