Where were you when we lost our legacy?

As spokesperson for an initiative to proclaim the Andy Russell – I’tai sah kòp Wildland Park, Mr. Sid Marty eloquently expressed a profound understanding of a critical issue facing Albertans - can we afford to sacrifice our natural heritage to unbridled development. We risk the wrath of generations to come who will ask, "Where were you when the land was lost?"

It was the damage done to this area that fuelled my concern for the preservation of the West Bragg Creek and Elbow Valley areas of Kananaskis. Increasing gas exploration and development in Kananaskis is beginning to look a lot like the Castle wilderness area - an area that has been heavily damaged by industrial development. The realization that the natural beauty of Kananaskis is being irreparably damaged set off alarm bells. It will soon have the same scarred landscape as that in the south western corner of the province. The spectre of losing a treasured recreational playground and a critical natural habitat in the Elbow River watershed upstream from Calgary is alarming. Access roads, well sites and pipelines are being developed right now. These compound the environmental degradation that already exists. Heavy equipment operating in the area is displacing recreational users and wildlife. A couple who went to Kananaskis in search of peace and beauty, died as a direct result of industrial activity when their car collided with pipes that fell off a contractor's truck.

Mr. Marty and others advocate protecting the Castle wilderness as a Wildland Park. I support their efforts, but, I wish the Alberta government would act to protect an area that is an important recreational and wilderness area as well. Protect the Elbow Valley, where about ½ million people go to seek solace and enrichment in the wilderness each year. Extend Wildland Park protection to include all of Kananaskis before it's too late.

Where does it end? Protect Kananaskis. Protect the Castle. It ends when there is no more wilderness to protect.

Where does the solution begin? With responsible government.

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