...from Kevin Gardner, ACA
We are getting a lot of questions of, "whats next?' and so here is what we suggest .
With our strong showing at the Open House, Border Paving (BP) must now be very aware of the resistance they face. We want to remind everyone that now is a very important time for us if we want to squash this thing. The open House was BP’s chance to hear our concerns and the questionnaire they had us fill out was their formal chance to collect our, “concerns”. They can now take these concerns, work with their consultants, and produce a plan on how they are going to mitigate these concerns. What I am saying is, BP has now heard our concerns but those making the decision on this, have not.
Let’s review process. BP has now completed their open house and must now complete and submit a report of the open house for Clearwater County. When this report is filed, BP can then go ahead with submitting their application to Clearwater County. Once the application is received Clearwater County will send out referral letters to everyone who filled in their information on the form at the open house and to everyone who has called them and asked to be added to the list to receive a package. In addition, Clearwater County will also post information on their website. This is your chance to send in a letter of concern directly to Clearwater County. All letters sent into the Planning Department will be included in the report to be reviewed by the Municipal Planning Board. The application by BP has not been submitted to the county yet, so create/perfect your draft letter for future mailing to the county… we will let you know when to pull the trigger.
In the meantime, perhaps our best chance is making it known that approving this ‘intended’ application is very much unpopular public opinion. I suggest that you write or otherwise contact:
4340-47 Ave, Box 550
Rocky mountain House, AB
· Mr. Tim Hoven Clearwater County Council Reeve,
4340-47 Ave, Box 550
Rocky mountain House, AB
403-846-5197 (cell) or 403-302-2748,
· Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper,
· Mr. Jason Nixon MLA for Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House, Sundre and Minister Alberta Environment and Parks
101 - 6 Street SW
Canada T0M 1X0
· Anyone else we haven’t thought of
These letters should be your own and speak from the heart. You may want to explain what The North Raven River and the springs that feed it means to you. Its never a bad idea to say you annually buy your fishing license, are a member of TUC or AFGA and have volunteered many times or you take many trips into the area, etc. With that now said, here are some suggestions that you may want to include:
· Through the formal Rocky Riparian Group which has evolved to current title of Clear Water Land Care, County staff have themselves made significant investments in the Raven River drainage system through public outreach and education (demonstration of off-site watering systems, education on water quality, assisting landowners in grant application and proposing to partner with ACA on an Eco-buffer project at the Leavitt Conservation Site, etc.).,
· Clearwater County places Environmental Reserves (ER), which are “no disturbance” areas allowed Adjacent to streams, on properties along the North Raven River as a condition of approving natural feature related subdivisions. This includes a recent ER that was placed on the land directly east of the McQuiston Pit (NE-18-37-05-W5).,
· So why approve developments that jeopardize the County’s investments?
· It will be impossible for BP to ensure no damage or effect occurs this stream and its sensitive fish habitat. It is simply impossible to predict all the possible threats on an open biological system like this from a large open pit like the one proposed. No matter what is in their application there is very significant risk.,
· If this application is approved, then it is highly likely that BP and Pidherney’s will also apply for wet gravel extraction permits on other pits in the immediate area. The cumulative affects of these applications will be disastrous. In fact, this aspect has not even been assessed by BP, which is a serious oversight.,
· Alberta’s hunters and anglers have spent an estimated $10 million restoring this stream to the condition it is now, which is arguably Alberta’s greatest conservation story. Volunteer time and sacrifices made by landowners are far greater. It makes no sense to waste all that effort and money.,
· This North Raven River alone sees around 2500 angler visits per year with anglers coming from around the world, bringing in approximately $110,000.00 annually during the summer months. This estimate only includes revenue from the North Raven River and does not include fishing revenue from the Raven River watershed as a whole.,
· Property values and local businesses such as the Lazy M Lodge and Caroline Supplies and downstream landowners will suffer greatly if these development permits are approved.,
· Downstream landowners have donated land to the Alberta Conservation Association with the intent of protecting a prime fishing stream and contributing to Alberta’s greatest Conservation story. If damage is done upstream, this will thwart these efforts.,
· Trout require clean, clear, undisrupted water and gravel for spawning and generally gravitate to freshwater springs for nutrients and conducive temperature conditions. In 2019, ACA biologists counted approximately 1200 trout redds on the North Raven River from highway 761 upstream to the headwater springs. The highest concentration was from the Stainbrook Conservation Site downstream to the “Buck for wildlife Parking lot” on Range Road 5-3. Stainbrook Springs is approximately ½ mile east of the proposed gravel site.,
· The open house on November 28 clearly demonstrated that Clearwater County residents are against this.,
· Border Paving has not been able to demonstrate what positive effect this will bring to the community besides gravel for road developments that can be obtained elsewhere.
· Gravel left from glacial outwash or river systems is sorted and clean compared to other deposits, so Border Paving can benefit greatly, but gravel obtained outside the flood plain will bring greater benefits to the county economy (more jobs). BP even indicated they have other pits in the areas, so “Why here?.”,
· Past flood events have occurred which have resulted in areas underwater and river flow from the Clearwater River through Clear Creek and into the North Raven River. Large excavations in the ground in this area are a big risk for uncontrolled erosion events.,
· The environmental/contamination risks of removing and cleaning gravel in ground water is huge. This will change the very nature and volume of the groundwater flow and groundwater quality once the pit is opened up and unnaturally exposed to air (i.e. evaporation, and oxygenation leading to possible mobilization of harmful elements, if present). Increased turbidity in the groundwater discharging to the river is also a real possibility. Removing gravel will increase fines concentration that will almost certainly enter the ground water flow to the springs increasing sediment and affecting water quality and habitat in the stream.,
· There will be no way easy way to stop contaminated water from reaching the headsprings if detected, and again,
· Why here with all this risk?
In addition, if you want to join our Facebook Page, “Friends of the Raven”, please do! We have also posted this same information there. This is a very practical venue for us to distribute information and share our experiences (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2379267918862574/).
Keep fighting the good fight,