Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Respectful Use of Public Lands

Land use conflicts have been a front and center issue in my career since the beginning.  Multiple land use across a common landscape continues to have its challenges.  The Public Lands Act in the Province of Alberta is the legislation governing transfer, sale, use and management of Crown Lands.  Designated activities have designated spaces.  From cattle ranching to forestry, and from oil and gas to recreation.  And there are areas that are intentionally set aside as some form of environmental protection.  Critical habitat for wintering ungulates.  Spawning and rearing habitat for sensitive fish species.  Nesting habitat for birds.  Use in these areas is generally restricted across some range of space and time.  This is to allow for critical life stages of the critters that are using those spaces to maintain that level of functionality.

So it is both a disappointment and a triumph that charges were recently laid in an incident of disrespect and abuse of public lands.  A disappointment because there are those that continue to disrespect the natural world.  A triumph in that the the system is able to exercise some authority over this abuse.

The referenced creek in the news story, Swan Creek is a designated stream, noted for its spawning and rearing habitat for lake trout and brown trout.  The Red Star and Red Highlighting in the diagram below denote areas of critical sensitivity (FULL MAP and LEGEND HERE).  The colouration and dates reflect "Restricted Activity Periods".  With such sensitivities in the watershed of the Swan Creek, land abuses like those shown in the video posted by ESRD (posted below) can have significant effects to the livelihood of those populations.  The reason there are designated places for designated activities is to prevent these sorts of abuses.

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