Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Someone lend me a dollar - I need to buy Ted Morton a clue.

Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, the Honourable Ted Morton, was quoted as being "shocked" by the things he was witnessing this past week-end, as he took a helicopter for a bird's-eye-view of the Indian Graves area (at the invitation of local Reeves). He went on to explain the chaos as a complete surprise, and as an obvious result of wildly successful Area Management Plans in the Ghost-Waiparous and McLean Creek areas to the North. Today, he says that the rowdies have "ruined it for everyone", and that as a result of this week-end's insanity he will be instituting an Area Management Plan for the Indian Graves area, by the Labour Day week-end.

Ted... where shall we start?

How about at the beginning? Fair enough. You said you were "shocked" by the abuses that were going on. As in, you didn't know such things happened? Ted, you're the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. Every Forestry Officer in the province of Alberta works for you. In the 5 months since you took office, you never talked to a Forestry Officer in the area? Any one of them, from a sophomore to a 30-year veteran, could have told you that the May Long Week-end in Ghost-Waiparous, McLean Creek and Indian Graves makes the Mad Max movies look tame by comparison. It has every year in memory. This should NOT have been a surprise to you, or to anyone in your department. There are videos on YouTube that glamorize this chaos, set to rock & roll music. There are photos all over the internet. It's your department, Ted... talk to the people in it. BELIEVE me - even if YOU don't know what's going on out in the bush, THEY certainly do.

Next on the list of ridiculous statements was that the problem at Indian Graves was a result of the Area Management Plans in other areas. Really? So the other areas that allow off-roading were tame, had few visitors, and no problems?

  • Indian Graves - no management plan, 5000 mud-bogging quad and monster truck drivers, small tent cities in the bush, drastic contamination of the Bow River watershed (enters the Bow downstream of Calgary), and immeasurable damage to the forest.
  • McLean Creek - has had a management plan for decades, 5000 mud-bogging quad and monster truck drivers, small tent cities in the bush, drastic contamination of the Elbow River watershed (UPSTREAM of Calgary), immeasurable damage to the forest, and 500 tickets issued. Oh, and 20 truckloads of garbage left in the bush (so far), and one man beaten so severely he's still in hospital (although, based on what he did that provoked the others, he ALMOST had it coming).

Yeah, Ted, the Management Plan oughtta take care of the problem. Because the one at McLean Creek is clearly working so well.

Look, I won't pretend to know what the solution here is. Indian Graves is outside of Kananaskis, for what that's worth (there are areas in Kananaskis - almost 50% of it, actually - that, shockingly, allow clear-cutting, oil drilling, quad-ing, and hunting in the same spots, at the same time, as school groups are hiking). Do you outlaw quads in forestry lands? That's punishing everyone for the idiocy of a few. Do you make the affected areas Provincial Parks, which enshrines their protected status in law, and makes quad-ing illegal just in those sensitive areas, or does that just move the problem to somewhere else? Do you spend the money to beef up enforcement, knowing that you're not likely going to stop anyone from being an idiot, you're just more likely going to catch them after the fact, or have another trained first-aider available when they wrap their dirt-bike around a tree?

There are tens of thousands of responsible riders who use these areas every year. They stay on-trail, obey the rules, and pull off their recreational ride to pick up other people's garbage. They are stewards of the land. How do we punish those riders for the actions of these long-weekend morons?

I don't have the solution, Nation. Perhaps some of you do. If so, please let me know - because SOMEBODY has to educate Dr. Morton, before he decides the solution is the same as his solution for Mountain Pine Beetle: "Cut down the trees, and they'll stay away".

I wonder what Peter Lougheed thinks of what his crowning achievement, Kananaskis Country, has become over the past 30 years. Is THIS what he meant when he called it "multiple-use"?

- ES

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