In September I was writing here about the Alberta government's plans to sell 16,000 acres of native grassland to an agribusiness that wanted to plough it and plant potatoes. Several organizations responded in the media and by letter campaign to protest the loss of this important piece of prairie supporting a variety of species at risk. Nature Saskatchewan joined the fray by passing a resolution from the floor at its fall AGM in Indian Head and then sending a strongly worded letter to the Alberta government, cc'ing the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA).
Vesper sparrows near Deep Lake, Saskatchewan, T. Herriot
Fall turned into winter and although I heard the Alberta government was taking a hard look at the issue, I didn't know which way things had gone. Then just after Christmas, good news came in the form of a letter from the AWA:
Re: Letter to Alberta Premier Stelmach
Thank you for taking the time to write to Alberta Premier Stelmach about the loss of native grassland in Alberta, and for forwarding a copy of your letter to AWA. We greatly appreciate your support in this important matter, and congratulate you on the resolution passed by Nature Saskatchewan, which sends a strong and clear message.
As you probably know, the ‘Potatogate’ deal to sell off 16,000 acres of public land, critical native prairie, was eventually suspended due, in no small part, to the widespread opposition received from individuals and organizations across Alberta and beyond. Your support was an important part of this.
Of course, the suspension of this one individual deal does not mean that the system of random and unaccountable sale of public land in Alberta has changes, so AWA will continue to work towards a system which prevents these sorts of behind-closed-doors processes taking place in future. We still have a long way to go!
We have been working with colleagues to develop principles and recommendations for the government to consider adopting as part of the Public Lands Regulations currently under development. For your interest, please find a copy of the document attached.
With sincere best wishes for a very Happy New Year,
ALBERTA WILDERNESS ASSOCIATION
If anyone else out there sent a letter, make sure you take a moment to draw in a grateful breath of winter prairie air, maybe hoist a glass of your favourite brew, and turn your thoughts to the creatures who will be doing their best to bring life to the prairie on those 16,000 acres come spring.
early November at dusk on the pasture south of Cherry Lake. T Herriot