Action Alert - 20 more years of clearcut logging about to be approved in the water supply for Oldman River Basin

Short Letters Needed Now to Hon. Ted Morton

Unless the new Minister of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD), Ted Morton, hears oth­erwise from southern Albertans, in a week or so his Forest Management Director will sign off on the Branch's decision to lock the Oldman River Basin headwaters into 20 more years of new logging roads, skid trails and clearcuts. Known as the C5 Forest Management Plan, that large-scale logging plan covers all the public forests providing the source of flowing water for the Basin (excep­t Waterton Lakes National Park and the head of the Belly and St. Mary Rivers in Montana). Ap­proving it will pre-empt the Oldman Watershed Council's upcoming State of the Watershed Report on the protection and management requirements needed to meet the government's Water for Life strategy. That report is due this fall.

Write Today:

Honourable Ted Morton
420 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Ave.
Edmonton AB T5K 2B6

Fax 780 415-4818
Email [email protected]

Ask That:

  1. He defer approval of the C5 Forest Management Plan until:
    1. the State of the Watershed Report and recommendations are completed for the Oldman River Basin; and
    2. the Castle River and Livingstone-Porcupine Integrated Resource Plans are updated through public consultation and by incorporating information on climate change and cumulative effects, and the findings and recommendations of the State of the Watershed Report, SRD's Southern Headwaters Species at Risk Project (SHARP) and the Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA) assessments.
  2. The C5 Plan be rethought based on direction from the Water for Life Strategy and updated Integrated Resource Plans.
  3. A senior level representative of SRD is appointed to the Oldman Watershed Council.


The province's 1979 hearings into the environmental effects of forestry operations already concluded that the Forest Reserve from Kananaskis Country south is over-allocated to logging. Alberta Environment's comments on the draft C5 Plan summarize SRD's failure to fully assess the ef­fects of the plan on the Forest Reserve's irreplaceable water-catchment role for the Basin.

Last May, SRD's Crowsnest Public Advisory Committee sent Letters to the Editor out­lining their outstanding concerns with the plan, including no assessment of cumulative effects and ef­fects of the plan on water quality, as well as no consideration of other forest values and uses, the effects of climate change, and the fragmentation and loss of wildlife habitat. Indeed, approval of the logging plan would also pre-empt updating the decades old land-use plan for the Forest Reserve (Castle River and Livingstone-Porcupine Integrated Resource Plans) where these matters and Water for Life would be addressed.

How could ABSRD stray so far from the government's Eastern Slopes Policy promise that watershed protection is the priority? Under government cutbacks, it disbanded the Watershed Management Branch in the 1980s and it has not appointed a representative to sit on the Oldman Watershed Council.

Following extensive consultation on "Land Use and Resource Development in the Eastern Slopes," in 1974 the province's Environment Conservation Authority recommended a large wildland park or other such legislated protected area in each of the five major river basins of the Eastern Slopes, including the Oldman. To a large extent, that has been accomplished for the Bow, but not at all for the Oldman. Approving the C5 Plan now would mean compensation owed to the logging company when the government finally establishes the wildland park for the main water tower of the Basin - the Castle area.

There are no more sawmills in Alberta's portion of the Basin. Trees cut in the headwaters are trucked to Cochrane. On the other hand, the de­mand for water is beyond the predicted supply. The Forest Reserve's mature and old growth forest ecosystems, which catch the snowfall and rain, and then supply the water for the Basin, are not replaceable for a century or more once clear cut. There's a moratorium on any new water licenses in the Basin. It's time for a moratorium on commercial logging and linear disturbances such as roads and skid trails, until the Integrated Resource Plans are updated and the State of the Oldman Watershed Report is completed.

Dianne Pachal, Alberta WILD Director
Sierra Club of Canada
Phone/Fax (403) 234-7368