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The real issue in Kananaskis

Kananaskis, Alberta, January 31, 2008

Why is it so hard to protect an area of such high value, so close to Calgary? The Fast Forward article of January, 31, titled "Not so clearcut" shows why. The media, who significantly form public opinion, miss the point because they use government policy as a starting point. The government defines the terms of reference. When reporters write about issues they don't understand, they, by definition, must devote time and effort to explore and reveal complex issues - the natural and human processes that shape our landscape, in this case. The author devoted the first 3/4 of the article, to an investigation of how forests grow and how they affect the water that flows through them. That was useful, but it missed the point.

The fact is, we have a healthy, mature forest in our backyard. It provides real value to the social and economic interests of Calgarians and all who enter it - that's hundreds of thousands of people. The issue is not the benefits of logging. It is the benefits of not logging. In a recent survey conducted by Save Kananaskis, the overwhelming response from the 150 respondents was "leave it alone". That isn't an option for the government or industry. According to the author, the issue is whether to burn the forest or cut it down. In his attempt to understand the issue, he got caught up in the details and missed the point - he couldn't see the forest for the trees.

Forest management, the subject of the article, is an important issue and the author did a good job of covering the foresters point of view. But he failed to consider that nature does a better job of managing the forest than humans do.

On the water issue he again missed the point. The city water specialist said he is reassured by a government plan to monitor the effect of logging on the watershed. The author devoted a lot of ink to the many scientifically proven negative impacts deforestation has on the quality and quantity of water - which is why we and the water specialist should be concerned. How can monitoring alleviate the impact of logging.

Industrial activity in Kananaskis a bad policy. The author portrayed the opposition to this policy as being a quaint, emotional expression; not unlike the crafts on sale at a Christmas bazaar. Bizarre.

This article failed to identify the real issue - the multi-use policy that provides access for logging, oil and gas, agriculture and recreation in Kananaskis. It didn't mention the impact logging has on recreational activities, in particular the destruction of the Trans Canada Trail. It didn't mention the effect logging will have on businesses that rely on visitors to the area to sustain their businesses. But why would it? Those aren't the terms of reference set out by the government.



Doug Sephton
Save Kananaskis