More Coal, Fewer Parks: The Future of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains?

October 1, 2020 :: Katie Morrison
Moderated by SACPA administrator

When you think of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, including the Oldman Watershed in Southern Alberta, you probably think of scenic mountaintops, rolling foothills and clear blue streams. You probably don’t think of decommissioned parks or open-pit coal mines, but that’s exactly what the future could hold. On June 1, 2020, the Government of Alberta rescinded the provincial Coal Policy, created in 1976, restricting open pit coal mining and coal exploration in Alberta’s most environmentally sensitive areas in the Rocky Mountains. The area most affected by this change covers 1.5 million hectares of lands that provide drinking water to downstream communities in Alberta and beyond. These areas also provide essential habitats for wildlife and plants, including grizzly bear, elk and native trout and have provided beauty and bounty for generations.

This comes on the heels of another government decision in March 2020 to remove protections on 175 provincial parks and recreation areas – approximately one third of all of Alberta’s provincial parks - including some of the most accessible areas for Albertans and visitors to safely experience nature. Collectively these areas provide approximately 4,500 publicly maintained campsites that support outdoor recreation and 60 of these parks are within areas now open for coal mining. The speaker will point out the areas affected while questioning the wisdom of these decisions, bound to damage our environment, water quality and recreation

Speaker: Katie Morrison

Katie is a Professional Biologist who has been working in the environmental sector for almost 20 years. She holds a B.Sc. in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary. Katie has worked in Canada and Latin America for university research projects, non-governmental organizations and environmental consulting companies.

Katie has an in-depth understanding of conservation, ecology, stakeholder consultation and mitigating the environmental impacts of human development. Katie’s academic and professional experience allows her to work on designing adaptive management solutions towards achieving landscape conservation and healthy communities in Southern Alberta. Katie spends her free time gardening, fishing, creating textile art, travelling and exploring wild places with her dog.

Date and time: Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 10am MST

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