Tuesday, 25 July 2017 07:00

Albertans encouraged to love their headwaters

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The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan outside Nordegg, Alta. The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan outside Nordegg, Alta. Photo by Stephen Legault

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) launched a new program the end of June which aims to bring Albertans together with a simple message: Love your headwaters.

“Albertans need reliable clean water,” says Stephen Legault, program director for Y2Y. “Our water comes from the narrow strip of mountains and foothills that run along our western border. Nine out of every 10 glasses of water from our taps comes from just 10 per cent of our land base. We need to protect this precious water source.”
The groups have created a new website at loveyour headwaters.ca to highlight and bring together various efforts to protect the province’s headwaters in the Castle, Kananaskis/Ghost and Bighorn regions. 
“Since the inception of our province, Albertans have recognized the need to protect our headwaters,” says Dr. Hilary Young, Y2Y program manager. “While Alberta has always maintained the importance of protecting water, we haven’t always managed the landscapes and watersheds very well.” 
Threats to our provincial headwaters include widespread commercial logging, coal mining, unregulated off-highway vehicle use and a massive network of roads, trails and seismic lines associated with more than a century of oil and gas development. 
“In southern Alberta, we’ve made excellent progress in the last two years,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director with the Southern Alberta chapter of CPAWS. “Protecting the Castle as a wildland and provincial park is a great step forward. More work needs to be done, however, to protect the watersheds for Calgary, Lethbridge and other southern communities. Commercial clear-cut logging threatens the Highwood and Elbow watersheds in Kananaskis and much of the Oldman watershed further south. These forests should be managed to protect water and wildlife, not for wood fibre.” 
Albertans are invited to “love their headwaters” by visiting the website, learning more, and getting involved in local and regional efforts to protect this treasured resource. 

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