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A disappointing finish to nine year process for Kananaskis

New development will change character of Kananaskis and impact wildlife

October 8, 2004

Conservation groups in Alberta are disappointed that additional new
development will be allowed in the Kananaskis Valley, saying that the
character of the mountain valley will be changed as a result of new
accommodations and that sensitive wildlife like grizzly bears will be
further impacted by increased development in the region. The concerns come
as the Minister responsible for Parks in Alberta, the Hon. Gene Zwozdesky,
releases the Management Plan for the Evan Thomas region of Kananaskis
Country, an area 45 minutes west of Calgary.

“The plan that Minister Zwozdesky released today will allow for further
development of a mountain valley already strained by commercial
facilities,” says Dave Poulton, Executive Director of the Calgary/Banff
Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “New accommodations,
new summer-use at the ski hill, expansion of the existing facilities and
the possibility of expansion of the Nakiska Ski area will compound the
stress on animals like the grizzly bear, which are already struggling to
survive in Kananaskis Country.”

“The cumulative effect of all this development will mean degraded visitor
experiences, as well as impacts on wildlife,” says Cliff Wallis, Past
President of the Alberta Wilderness Association. “With so much compromise
having already taken place in Kananaskis Country, we were hoping for the
Alberta government to finally draw a line and say that to protect wildlife
we’re not going to allow more development in this sensitive area. We’re
disappointed that this hasn’t happened.”

Stephen Legault of Wildcanada.net says, “After nine years of public review,
and tens of thousands of comments from the public in favour of protecting
Kananaskis Country, the government of Alberta has once again taken the side
commercial development over the average Albertan.”

Legault says that in survey’s conducted during the extensive public review
of the Kananaskis Country Recreation Policy, which concluded in 1999, and
the subsequent four and a half year development of the Evan Thomas
management plan, more than 90% of Albertans questioned have said that they
like Kananaskis Country as it is.

“People come to Kananaskis to hike, fish, mountain bike, picnic with their
families, to hunt and just to enjoy nature,” says Legault. “You don’t need
new accommodations and expanded facilities to do that. You need more
nature, which is something this government doesn’t seem willing to accept
or value despite what Albertans say.”

For further information contact:

Cliff Wallis, Alberta Wilderness Association (403) 271-1408
Stephen Legault, Wildcanada.net (403) 609-2509
Dave Poulton, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (403) 232-6601

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Posted October 8, 2004 by russ

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