Alberta for Sale? Premier Asked to Clarify Government’s ‘Prairies to Potatoes’ Position

Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) is asking for the Premier to clarify a statement made to the media by Minister of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD), Mel Knight, about funds generated by the proposed sale of native prairie Public Lands near Bow Island, Alberta. Sale and conversion of this land would destroy vital habitat for a number of endangered species.

Michael Short of the radio program “Let’s Go Outdoors” was apparently told by Minister Knight on Monday that funds from the land sale would be given to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (Alberta) for use in purchasing perhaps as much as ten times the amount of native grassland that will be lost to potato farming in this deal.

“AWA has learned that the Nature Conservancy of Canada is unaware of any such arrangement,” said Cliff Wallis, AWA vice-president. “It is AWA’s understanding that the Nature Conservancy of Canada could not support such conversion of native grasslands to grow potatoes for snack food, especially when habitat for so many species at risk is involved.”

AWA has again written the Premier requesting that he bring his ministry in line with an ethically and morally sound approach to prairie conservation on Public Lands. Specifically, the AWA is calling on the Premier to:

  1. halt the sale of this valuable prairie grassland in Townships 12 and 13, Range 11, West of the 4th Meridian
  2. put in place a public process for disposition of any Public Land in Alberta
  3. strengthen provisions in the Public Lands Act for prairie conservation; and
  4. legislatively protect environmentally significant native grasslands on Public Lands.

AWA asked Friday for an emergency response from the Alberta government to prevent the imminent destruction of more than 100 quarters of public land, known to be habitat for a number of species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act, including burrowing owl, ferruginous hawk, Sprague's pipit, chestnut-collared longspur, McCown's longspur, short-eared owl, and long-billed curlew.

AWA understands that the decision to sell this land is before Cabinet.

The public has made it very clear on numerous occasions that they do not want their Public Land sold. Public Lands are managed by the Alberta government on behalf of all Albertans.

For more information:

Cliff Wallis, AWA vice-president 403 271-1408