Big Lakes County unable to create a protected area

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

An idea to protect a forested area south of Faust has been nixed by Big Lakes County.

At its April 24 meeting, council accepted a report on the proposal as information, thereby killing it.

Area resident Roy New had presented the proposal to council back in December. He suggested the county take steps to protect an area about two miles wide and six miles long. He said the idea was to protect wildlife and keep hunters and loggers out.

Council had a report on the matter in its Apr. 24 agenda package, prepared by planning and development officer Pat Olansky.

“Council is unable to support the proposal,” said Olansky in the written report. She further wrote that the land has many restrictions already and any development requires extensive consultation.

The lands proposed for the wildland park include Sections 25 – 29, 32 to 36-73-11-W5 and Sections 30 and 31-72-1-W5.

Council was informed the area has about three abandoned well sites. It is designated for agricultural development in the Frost Hills Local Plan, and West Fraser Mills holds a forest management agreement for S20.

Olansky’s report added that the area also has requirements to consult for buffers and protective areas for watersheds, habitat and flood areas, as well as a powerline easement.

West Fraser was asked to respond and does not support the proposal, Olansky added.

“The proposed protected area would remove 1,772 hectares from West Fraser’s forest management agreement,” she said.

West Fraser has permanent road access to the area and does not want any restrictions on its use.

One councillor thought the wildland park idea has some merit.

“I would like us to do something to protect the area,” said Robert Nygaard, councillor from Faust.

CAO Jordan Panasiuk suggested a letter to Mr. New would be in order.

“We support it, keeping it environmentally healthy,” he said.

The county also invited Alberta Environment and Parks to comment, but did not get a response.

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