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"I am convinced that at least part of the reason for the flood was the development, grazing and clear cutting in the Elbow watershed upstream."

June 18, 2007

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to suggest another avenue you may want to pursue in your/our fight to save the forests of the eastern slopes of the Kananaskis, in particular those around Bragg Creek.

I live near the Elbow River in Calgary. Two years ago the river flooded and many homes nearby were severely damage. It was later reported that the flood cost the Alberta government 250 million dollars in compensation to those affected and many victims did not receive any compensation for their losses. I am convinced that at least part of the reason for the flood was the development, grazing and clear cutting in the Elbow watershed upstream. I suggest you publicize the fact that clearcutting increases the chances of flooding and inform the residents and politicians downstream. Surely the wealthy and powerful who live along the river will be concerned about increased danger due to logging upstream
A major destructive force in the Elbow watershed is the grazing of cattle and other animals on forested land as well as on the grassy hillsides.

These animals strip the vegetation, compact the soil, drop their feces in the water and erode the hillsides with their constant wanderings in search of more grass. Last summer it was announced that the Elbow River was contaminated with E coli bacteria. We all know that E coli comes from the digestive tracts and feces of cattle. The Elbow River also happens to be the main source of drinking water for the city of Calgary and it is a major asset to the city in terms of aesthetic beauty and recreation.

In the Rainy Creek area one can see how little of the forest has grown back in the 25 years since the fire and logging cleared the mountainside. Grazing cattle on the land has stunted any trees that have survived at all and the cattle have sown the land with millions of dandelions and other weeds from their droppings. In fact there are so many dandelions now that there is little room for the grass the cows originally came to eat. In many places in the Bragg Creek area the soil has been eroded and gullies and washouts have formed due to the continued trampling by cattle. In other areas you can see how the cattle have decimated once healthy forest. Any honest rancher will confirm that if you put enough cattle on the land for a long enough period of time, they will "bulldoze" any trees and shrubs and the land will become grassland or worse. In areas where the overgrazing continues, even the native grasses will be killed, the soil will erode and weeds like dandelions will take over. I grew up in cattle country and I have seen how much damage a herd of cows can do to grassland and trees. I believe that grazing cattle on the forested lands of the Eastern slopes is an extremely unsound practice because it contaminates a vital water shed, it destroys the forest and it increases the risk of flooding downstream. I realize this is a slightly different issue but if we are really serious about saving the forests and the land then this must be addressed as well.

There are other factors at play downstream from Bragg Creek that contribute to problems with the Elbow River that also need to be dealt with but it seems obvious to me that the proposed clearcutting should be stopped along with cattle grazing on public lands in the Bragg Creek area.

I am submitting this letter with the hope that it may provide some new ammunition for your fight to save the forests and land of the Kananaskis area and Elbow water shed.

Wishing you all the best in the fight for Kananaskis,

Yours truly,

D.K.