Environmental Headlines

Photo: Rock Arssenault, Reuters. Woodland Caribou in conflict with Industry in Alberta's Boreal.

 South Saskatchewan Region Biodiversity Management Framework

aka. BMF

 Comments by Lori Goater with input from the SAGE Board 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.
It is important that the South Saskatchewan Region Biodiversity Management Framework (BMF) has a strong foundation
in order to maintain biodiversity in the region over the long term.
The public is supportive of responsible environmental stewardship of our landscape.
Managing our collective impacts on water, air, and biodiversity are in everyone’s best interest.

READ the complete letter 
@ Letters to Government

Fracking In Alberta

Jessica Ernst Website:
Charter Rights at Issue in Fracking Supreme Court Case
Jessica Ernst's long battle over rights, well contamination reaches highest court Tuesday.

By Andrew Nikiforuk



Over the past 15 years, numerous colonies of bees have been decimated throughout the world, but the causes of this disaster remain unknown. Depending on the world region, 50% to 90% of all local bees have disappeared, and this epidemic is still spreading from beehive to beehive – all over the planet. Everywhere, the same scenario is repeated: billions of bees leave their hives, never to return. No bodies are found in the immediate surroundings, and no visible predators can be located.

Scientists have found a name for the phenomenon that matches its scale, “colony collapse disorder,” and they have good reason to be worried: 80% of plant species require bees to be pollinated. Without bees, there is no pollinization, and fruits and vegetables could disappear from the face of the Earth. Apis mellifera (the honey bee), which appeared on Earth 60 million years before man and is as indispensable to the economy as it is to man’s survival.

Fifty years ago, Einstein had already insisted on the symbiotic relationship binding these pollen gatherers to mankind: “If bees were to disappear from the globe,” he predicted, “mankind would only have four years left to live.”

Watch the trailer on the sage AGRICULTURE page.

Go to the Official Web Site.



Alberta Environmental Network Petitions Unstoppable Spills

 Scary graphic on Alberta's pipeline problems.

The above is one graphic that shows Alberta's pipeline problems and why you should be concerned.


The graphic shows 29,229 spills that Alberta has had over the past 37 years.

That's a 2 spill a day average!!!


Please write to Alberta's Auditor General and encourage him to conduct a thorough pipeline safety review: info@oag.ab.ca


Albertan's need answers and solutions to Alberta's mounting pipeline problems.


Gods Acre

Crowdfunding Opportunity

Gods Acre is the story of an older Aboriginal man being forced to adapt to a constantly changing world.

Climate change has altered the way people live, bringing droughts and floods to previously unaffected areas. And yet, a man continues to live alone in the wilderness like his family before him. Even before global warming and its catastrophic consequences, he was an outlier to society. His roots remained firmly planted in the customs his family passed on to him.

However, every day the outside world's problems are landing closer to his doorstep.

Water is rising and swallowing the land his cabin stands on.
Now, he must abandon his birthplace or adapt to the new conditions.

To raise funds for the film our production is going to be starting a crowdfunding campaign on May 25th till June 25th. If you are not familiar with crowdfunding it is a method of raising money for projects where people donate to a project online and receive perks (such as posters or dvds) for contributing!

More information @ https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gods-acre#/story

CBC Interview:
Kelton Stepanowich's film to put Fort Chipewyan in Spotlight


Some good news .... 

We are delighted to tell you that on 30 November 2012, the Federal Government through Governor in Council, issued a decision to DENY approval of the proposed project by Cenovus (formerly Encana) to drill 1,275 shallow gas wells in the Suffield National Wildlife Area. 


The Government’s Decision Statement is at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=83796.


SAGE has been part of the Suffield Environmental Coalition for five years now, working with other organizations to profile adverse environmental aspects of the project and to develop strategies for ensuring the project does not proceed.  Cliff Wallis of the Alberta Wilderness Association has led this effort and deserves our thanks.


A media release from the Suffield Environmental Coalition follows & is available for download.


Prairie Grasslands and Species at Risk Protected

Government Sets High Bar for Suffield National Wildlife Area


Calgary (November 30, 2012) –The seven-group Suffield Coalition today applauded the government’s decision to deny approval of Cenovus' (previously EnCana) proposal to drill 1,275 natural gas wells and construct associated infrastructure in the Suffield National Wildlife Area (NWA). Suffield NWA was established in 2003 to protect endangered native prairie and the many species of animals and plants at risk in the area, including at least 15 federally listed species threatened with extinction.


The Government responded today to the January 2009 recommendations of the Joint Review Panel that conducted an environmental review of Cenovus' proposed expansion. It agreed with the Panel’s conclusion that the proposed project would result in significant adverse effects on certain species at risk and would interfere with the conservation of wildlife.  This decision sets a high bar for protecting the integrity of this unique area of fragile native prairie.


“We are greatly encouraged by this decision,” says Sandra Foss, past-president of Nature Alberta. The groups will now turn their efforts to addressing the many existing environmental issues within the NWA. “This decision reinforces the conservation value of Canada’s NWAs,” says Nature Canada’s manager of protected areas, Alex MacDonald, “and sets a great example of putting conservation first in the management of protected wild spaces.”


Because the NWA lies within Canadian Forces Base Suffield, the Department of Defence was delegated authority over the NWA when it was established under the Canada Wildlife Act. “The Government’s decision shows the Department is serious about its commitment to the protection of the NWA”, says Alberta Wilderness Association’s Cliff Wallis. “It is very good news for the species that rely on Suffield NWA and it also sets an excellent precedent about the Government’s commitment to preserving the integrity of other protected areas.”



For more information:

Cliff Wallis, Alberta Wilderness Association: 403-607-1970

Sandra Foss, Nature Alberta: 403-932-2947, sefoss@telus.net

Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada: 613-562-3447 ext. 300, amacdonald@naturecanada.ca


The Suffield Coalition comprises seven groups: Alberta Wilderness Association, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta Group for the Environment, Grasslands Naturalists, and Nature Canada.


Thank you volunteers, members & friends for all you do to help us succeed in our shared goals!




Are you concerned about the omnibus "budget" bill the Federal government has pushed through parliament?

Here is an overview prepared by the Environmental Law Centre:

An Overview of Bill C- 38:

The Budget Bill that Transformed Canada’s Federal Environmental Laws

By Brenda Heelan Powell, Staff Counsel for the ELC

In late April 2012, the federal government introduced Bill C-38: An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and Other Measures which received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012i and is now known as the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, S.C. 2012, c. 19. As its title suggests, Bill C-38 purports to implement the most recent budget of the federal government (the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Economic Action Plan 2012).

Weighing in at over a hefty 400 pages, Bill C-38 does much more than implement budgetary objectives; it substantively changes federal environmental law in Canada. Over ten pieces of federal environmental legislation are amended or repealed by Bill C-38. Significant changes are made to federal environmental assessment law, fisheries law, and the operation of the National Energy Board. As well, Bill C-38 amends the charity provisions of the Income Tax Act which may have profound implications for many of Canada’s environmental organizations.

Read the rest by clicking here; link will open in a new window and in PDF format.


Recent activity: 

Water and wisdom: An Open Letter to Ottawa


The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 05 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment:

On May 17, 2012, we learned that Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a world-renowned freshwater and fisheries research facility, will be terminated in March, 2013.

We are deeply concerned with this decision, as there is no comparable facility in the world. The ELA, located in Northwestern Ontario, consists of 58 small lakes and their watersheds set aside for research, a permanent field station and a dedicated research team. Since 1968, this facility has been a natural outdoor laboratory to study how fish populations and lake ecosystems respond to human and natural disturbances. ELA features unique, whole-ecosystem experiments and continuous long-term ecological monitoring.

Read the rest at the Globe.


Read the letters SAGE has sent to  federal MP, Mr. Jim Hillyer and others on our Letters to Government page.



Other Headlines & Activity 


Rally to Stop the Logging of the Castle:
On Sunday January, 22nd at 2pm, there will be a rally just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approximately 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.) I am writing today to invite you to attend the rally, and if you cannot be there, to consider inviting someone you know to go. More details can be found at stopcastlelogging.org.
Dear Members and Supporters in Southern Alberta:
The Castle Wilderness Area is at risk. These past 8 days, our colleagues with the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and the folks of Beaver Mines who have formed the group Stop Castle Logging, have held a media conference and have been taking turns manning a camp at the site where Alberta SRD and Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd, a subsidiary of Spray Lakes Sawmills Ltd, plan to begin logging. 
Their tenacity and strength as they were served with a Notice of Development by Alberta SRD yesterday is something they do for the greater good - for the protection of our forests, for the reasonable demand that we consider years old forest logging plans out of date; to show that as Albertans we want new and better science about managing forests implemented.  We want our forests managed not primarily for timber but for their vital ecological values, including the water security of downstream communities.
There has been significant work by all Alberta conservation groups on this issue from Waterton to Kakwa, and we all share in the message from the folks on the front line of the Castle. This is not just a local issue. We know the way our Alberta forests are managed must change.  Clean, abundant drinking water, habitat for wildlife, and sustainable recreation opportunities depend on that change.
Despite significant evidence from public opinion polls that Albertans want the Castle area protected, likely thousands of calls and letters since September 2011 to our Premier opposing the way forests are managed and seeking protection for the Castle Wilderness, and the science that shows us we need to update our forest management practices, the response from our government has been a "Notice of Development " order served yesterday by Blairmore Alberta SRD officer Cory Wojtowicz, warning our colleagues they are trespassing.
On Sunday January, 22nd at 2pm, there will be a rally just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approximately 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.) I am writing today to invite you to attend the rally, and if you cannot be there, to consider inviting someone you know to go. More details can be found at stopcastlelogging.org.
If you would like to read more about our recommendations for sustainable forest management please follow this link: http://albertawilderness.ca/news/2011/2011-10-25-news-release-southwest-alberta-groups-release-new-recommendations-for-sustainable-forest-management-1
This is one of those times when we must not doubt the power of the people, as Margaret Mead wrote so poignantly "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Yours in conservation,
Christyann Olson
Executive Director
Alberta Wilderness Association
"Defending Wild Alberta through Awareness and Action"
Sage supports a letter sent to our new Premiere, Alison Redford, in an effort to STOP the logging of the Castle.  The following is an excerpt:
We believe that one of your first occasions to advance the long term environmental health of Alberta will be the permanent protection of the Castle region as a combination Wildland and Provincial Park, as advocated for by local stakeholders. Fully 74% of residents in the region support this designation. As noted in our briefing package provided during the election campaign at the Connecting Environmental Professionals forum, we feel that many of the barriers to long term protection have been addressed though the patient and dedicated work of the local citizens of the region over the past years.
The Alberta Wilderness Association nicely sums the attributes of the area:
Protect the Castle Wildland
With a new Premier and new Minister for Sustainable Resource Development, there is a sense of change in the air, and a renewed commitment to listening to Albertans.

The extensive natural values of the Castle including clean water production, carbon storage, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities far outweigh the marginal timber values to be derived from clearcut logging. Tree growth in these high altitude, wind-swept forests is slow and the trees are consequently small. Sending the logging trucks on a 500-mile round trip journey to the mill in Cochrane, to allow the felling of these ‘matchstick forests makes as little economic sense as it does environmental sense. Increasingly, the timing is looking right for new and increased protection of this crucial region.
Please note that the fight to protect the Castle is one we are losing.  If you can help by writing a letter to the Premiere, telephoning or e-mailing .... please do.
The Premier's office can be reached toll-free at 310-0000, and ask to speak to the Premier's office. Or write to:
The Hon. Alison Redford
Premier of Alberta
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 – 97th Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Email: Premier@gov.ab.ca
In addition to the sage web site, The Sierra Club offers more addresses and some letter writing advice:  http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5654/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8576
Another good site:  Stop Castle Logging,  http://stopcastlelogging.wordpress.com/
If you are able to write or call, please don't be shy about telling us you have participated in the fight to stop the logging of the castle!
Potato Gate Cancelled, Again!

Government of Alberta News Release:
October 19, 2011
Request for Proposals for agricultural development cancelled

Edmonton... A Request for Proposals is cancelled that would have sold 16,000 acres in southern Alberta for irrigated agricultural development.

Government cancelled the RFP after people expressed concerns that there was no public input into using a Request for Proposals and that there might be an impact on water and on the ranching community. Public consultation and water use and availability are priorities for this government.

The land is in Cypress County and is all under grazing lease or grazing permit. The Request for Proposal was issued in August 2011.


 Open Letter:  Water for Alberta's Rivers

13 October 2011

Dear Albertans:

We believe you understand the value of water and the need to use water wisely. That is why so many of you have participated in Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy, providing guidance to decision-makers about how we use and manage our water resources.

The goals of the Water for Life Strategy are:
?      Safe, secure drinking water
?      Healthy aquatic ecosystems
?      Reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy

A key to achieving these goals is the development of provincial Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plans (CEP Plans). These plans are to be completed by major water users, including municipalities, irrigators and the oil and gas and hydropower industries, to improve their water-use efficiency by 30 per cent by 2015. In 2008, major water users agreed to draft plans with information about stressed water sources in the areas where they operate, and to provide creative ideas for environmental improvement. Unfortunately, these plans are coming up short in addressing important environmental needs.

As you strive to use less water in your home, you do so in good faith that the water you’re saving (conserved water) will go back into our rivers to benefit river health. Yet, the plans being created by many major water users focus instead on directing water that they conserve to new uses, leaving little or no extra water to return to rivers. However, it is crucial to return some of the conserved water back to rivers, in order to augment low winter flows, ensure groundwater recharging, help to stabilize stream banks, and support the plant and animal life that depend on healthy rivers. Alberta’s CEP Plans should reduce the risk to the most sensitive aspects of aquatic ecosystems in Alberta.

Some major water users receive provincial funding to conserve water, but intend to use this conserved water for purposes other than river health. We are concerned that the conservation water plans have become industry growth plans, rather than meeting the Water for Life goals that provide broader benefits to all Albertans. We are also concerned that the Government of Alberta is passing off its responsibility for healthy rivers by failing to act on the CEP Plans. Furthermore, Albertans deserve to be involved in decisions about the future of conserved water.

We believe that all Albertans have a responsibility to be stewards of our water. As a citizen, you can take a stand for the return of conserved water to our rivers, especially in water-stressed areas. You can urge major water users to implement clear CEP Plans that meet the Water for Life goals. Find out who supports the return of conserved water to our rivers. Ask your MLA and the candidates in the forthcoming provincial election what they are going to do to ensure the health of our rivers. Let them know what you expect.
Sincerely yours,


Alberta Wilderness Association

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Southern Alberta Chapter

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Northern Alberta Chapter

Central Athabasca Stewardship Society

Keepers of the Athabasca Watershed Council

Southern Alberta Group for Environment

Water Matters;  http://www.water-matters.org