AWA calls on the Alberta Government to take a stronger conservation stance for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan

With the comment period soon ending on January 15, 2014, Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) has sent official recommendations to the Alberta government in response to the Draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP). After extensively reviewing the draft, AWA has serious concerns with the draft and wants significant changes in the final SSRP. Although there are positive strategic directions in the draft indicating a need for a cumulative effects management approach, land use tradeoffs and sufficient headwater and biodiversity protection are largely absent.

“Overwhelmingly throughout the consultation process, we heard Albertans’ disappointment about the draft SSRP’s failure to address land use conflicts and establish sufficient legislated protected areas,” says Brittany Verbeek, AWA conservation specialist, “AWA remains hopeful that the government has listened to Albertans’ feedback and those conservation values are better reflected in the final plan.”

The expansion of existing and establishment of new Wildland Parks in the draft plan do not protect headwaters and crucial riparian areas. Not only is this essential to support several species at risk but it provides southern Alberta with clean drinking water and buffers against flooding and drought.

No legislated protection was proposed for the grasslands region, which is home to the majority of flora and fauna that is at risk in our province. The fact that among the remaining intact grasslands, oil and gas leases are still being sold and public land with irrigation potential is still being considered for sale is irresponsible and unacceptable to Albertans.

“This should not be a plan to plan; AWA calls on the government to incorporate well known science-based thresholds, triggers and limits for biodiversity, access management, and linear footprint directly into these regional plans,” Verbeek states.

The South Saskatchewan regional planning process began in 2009 as part of an overall land use framework for the province. This is the second round of public and stakeholder consultation; the first round was in response to the government appointed Regional Advisory Council (RAC) advice for the SSRP.

For more information contact:

  • Brittany Verbeek, AWA Conservation Specialist (403) 283-2025