Letters to the politicians

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penThe Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition received hundreds of e-mails on the logging issue. We understand that one government office received 700 e-mails and 30 phone calls. The response has been overwhelming. Sending a letter of concern is hard work - writing it can be time consuming and sometimes difficult. Emotions come into play in many letters. The BCEC and I thank you for making the effort to make a change.

I've had an opportunity to read many of the letters sent to the ministers that make the decisions that shape our world; in this case Kananaskis. Politicians pay heed to letters that are true expressions of concern and care. Well, our politicians have no choice but to pay heed. The letters have been a powerful statement of shock and sadness at the prospect of having a highly valued wilderness destroyed - personal stories of a connection to the land shared with family and friends. And, there have been hundreds and hundreds of them.

The deadline has passed to have letters included with the filing of the Spray Lakes Detailed Forest Management Plan, but you can still send your concerns to the politicians.

Since I've had a chance to read yours, I thought you might like to read mine. I don't know that I made that connection to the land, but I think I made a case for the way this logging will affect me and my community.

Here are a couple more:

Ralph Cartar - he's the president of the BCEC

Darrel Park & Raine Reese - a couple of concerned people who combine scientific, political and emotional arguments very well.

I'm sorry I can't publish more. There were so many and they were so good.

I included the comments submitted through the comment form in my letter. There were some zingers from young and not so young.

Dear ______________

I run a small business in Bragg Creek; a retail store on my  Bragg Creek – Gateway to Kananaskis web site, www.braggcreek.ca. Things aren’t going all that well, although I’m trying hard and I have a considerable audience. My livelihood and that of the 70-odd other small businesses located here will survive or fail depending on whether the clear-cut logging planned by Spray Lakes Sawmills goes ahead. About 100 jobs in the area will be affected as well. We’re already feeling the effects of the closure of the Wintergreen ski hill, the loss of the TransRockies bike race, the perception that Bragg Creek’s water is contaminated and a variety of other challenges. We don’t need another reason for people to go elsewhere. We form a diverse economy; from crafts, restaurants, whitewater rafting to real estate and gift shops. We’re all striving to make a go of it, many have failed. If you want to diversify the Alberta economy and provide a way forward for new economic opportunities, clear-cutting Kananaskis is not the way to do it.
I congratulate the Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition for the enthusiasm and energy they have invested in this campaign to have the multi-use policy governing Kananaskis revisited. You won’t be surprised to know that many of the people who are writing letters to you are employed in the oil & gas industry; an industry that will feel the effects, if the proposed Wildland Park wins approval. It is a measure of their concern for Kananaskis that they want it protected from further industrial activity.
I see this kind of concern everywhere. When I talk to people at the trailheads, and to outdoor recreation groups, when I visit outdoor equipment shops, web sites and discussion forums on the Internet, and when I attend public meetings. Everywhere I go, people are shocked to find that their beloved Kananaskis is not protected and that there is a plan to cut down their trees on their public land. They all ask, “What can I do to stop this?” I’d like to know, what will it take to have Kananaskis protected?
To date, the web page, where the BCEC and I are waging our campaigns against clear-cut logging, has been visited 5,500 times and the contact page with the names and addresses of the government ministers implicated, has been hit 890 times. We are being inundated with messages of concern.
The economic and social impacts of logging in Kananaskis will be enormous. As I mentioned our local economy will suffer, so will other small businesses all along the foothills. The City of Calgary will be forced to invest millions in new facilities and programs to deal with the effects of nutrients and sediments entering their water supply. The joy people experience when hiking, paddling, cycling, skiing, and riding through Kananaskis will suffer. They’ll have to travel further to the sanctuary offered by the feds in the national parks. The wildlife will suffer and some will die when their natural habitat is razed.
What for? A few board feet of lumber and 150 jobs. Jobs in the resource industries are not hard to come by these days. I think Spray Lakes is a good company, run by good people. I certainly don’t wish any hardship on their business. I just wish they weren’t planning to cut trees in an area that is so important to the welfare of so many.
I get a lot of feedback on this issue through my web site. Some people, young and old, have used the comment form provided to express how this issue affects them. I’m going to attach their comments here as they are brief and might not reach you otherwise.
Please transfer sole authority over access to Kananaskis to Alberta Community Development, Parks and Protected Areas. I trust them to make the right decisions to ensure that the Kananaskis wilderness will be there for those that follow us.

Doug Sephton

The comments submitted through the online form were appended here. Click here to read them.

The Hon. Ralph Klein
The Hon. David Coutts
The Honourable Denis Ducharme
The Hon. Guy Boutilier
Dr. Ted Morton, MLA
Spray Lakes Sawmills
Barry Erskine
Brian Mason
David Eggen
Kevin Taft
Bill Bonko
Harry Chase
Dr. David Swann
Council, Rocky View County