Alberta Politics Big Government Bureaucracy Environmentalism Politics Science Uncategorized

Springbank Dry Dam?? Nope. Wet Dam, Mud Hole, & Dust Bowl.

Dave 073 years ago I published a blog about the highly controversial  flood mitigation project, the Springbank Dry Dam. (SBD)

Here it is again, with some updates.

In the fall of 2014, to great fanfare and just before the Alberta provincial by-elections, the PC government announced the Springbank Dry Dam (SBD); an Elbow River flood mitigation project to be constructed a few kilometers west of Calgary. The announcement was in the papers and on television, and sadly, that’s where landowners who will lose their land, or the use of their land, found out about it. Talk about a callous and cynical disregard for property rights!

There is no question that some form of flood mitigation is required before we inevitably get hit by the next big one. After all, Calgary was subjected to two floods in the late 1800s, each bigger than the 2013 deluge. But it has to be the right project in the right place, and at the right cost.

Here are a few things for Calgarians, and anyone else who believes in property rights, to think about.

Is it right that people whose lives will be disrupted, livelihoods threatened, and property values greatly diminished are completely ignored in the planning stages of a project of this magnitude and impact?

Does it make sense to locate a flood mitigation dam where it will provide absolutely no protection to the communities of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, both of which suffered serious damage in 2013?

SpringbankRanching families in the area have ridden these foothills and valleys for generations, and know them intimately.  In fact, they have been ranching in the area since 1885; decades before people began building mansions on the Elbow River floodplains. Why was their counsel not sought in the lead up to the announcement of the SBD?

These people of the land point to a number of better locations for a flood mitigation project which would not only protect Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows but would also provide larger scale and safer protection for the City of Calgary.

Several upstream Elbow dam proposals actually have been discussed by Government bureaucrats.  One site that appeared to be viable was the McLean Creek area, but the government told us that “it was finding it too complicated to wade through all the government regulatory requirements, recreational aspects, and environmental concerns that would involve placing the dam on public lands.”

Think about that. Future infrastructure projects in Alberta must sometimes only be undertaken on private lands because it is too complicated to comply with government regulations, when putting them on on public (government) land. But if the land is privately held they can, apparently, simply announce the project through the media and, voilà!, problem solved.

In addition to being in the wrong place, the proposed SBD project is based on seriously flawed research. After they announced the SBD, representatives of the Government proudly told us that the project is to be based on a concept they discovered while on a recent trip to the mountain-less Netherlands.  It even has a catchy name: “Room for the River.”

As we know, when rivers flood their banks in fertile alluvial regions like those upstream from the Netherlands, the water carries rich organic sediment downstream and deposits it along the river’s flood plains.  When the water subsides, the land can be farmed intensively. Does the government actually believe that this is what will happen in the Elbow River Valley?

Anyone who has witnessed flooding in an alpine setting will recognize this as complete nonsense.  The proposed “dry dam” will provide a shallow, temporary catchment basin for floodwaters containing mountain sediment and rock grindings.

When the water is released it will leave the sediment behind, and will turn thousands of hectares of pristine and carefully managed grazing land, into a vast, sterile, mud flat. Rock grindings are inorganic and will kill grass rather than fertilize it.

I was in High River several times after the 2013 flood, and the sediment was being hauled away because nothing will grow in it. But how can you remove sterile muck from thousands of hectares?

You can’t, so as the sediment dries out the muck will turn to dust, and a once lush valley will become a dust bowl and westerly winds will carry that dust into homes west of Calgary, and into Calgary itself.

Has the government asked the folks in Springbank and West Calgary how they feel about rock dust? I haven’t heard about it. Because that’s government’s way. They come up with bright ideas to “help you”; insist that they’ve had the finest experts develop the solution, but tend to under-emphasize, or completely ignore, unintended consequences.

A few years ago, Travel Alberta came out with some great commercials telling you to: “Remember to Breathe.” Great advice, especially for West Calgarians, while you still can.

Here’s a commercial I’d like to see, to be directed at governments everywhere.

“Your decisions – including their unintended consequences – affect real people. So, Remember to Think!”

I’m Dave Reesor

** Don’t Dam published this disturbing reminder. I don’t remember it being emphasized in government talking points, or by local media, but it should be a central part of the discussion.


Big Government Bureaucracy Environmentalism Science

Sage Grouse revisited

Dave 07

Last week we were back in the tiny community of Manyberries Alberta. The beleaguered ranchers and oilmen of that area have put together a promising new organization called Sustainable Canada. Great name and mission, but here’s what they’re up against.

Ecojustice, a left-wing, richly financed offshoot of the Sierra Club, sued the Canadian government to place Sage Grouse on an endangered species list. Mainstream media cooperated by running headlines stating that Sage Grouse are in danger of extinction.

They’re not. There are at least 500,000 of them in the United States. They are only in danger of extinction, in Canada, but Canada is the extreme northern tip of their range. I’m quite sure that Sage Grouse have never recognized the Canadian/American border, and undoubtedly they have gone “extinct” in southern Alberta/Saskatchewan, several times since the peak of the last major Ice Age, 18,000 years ago. It’s certain that had moved much further south  when the area was under a mile of ice.

So what has caused the current decline in Canada? The most likely culprits are coyotes, foxes, and West Nile Virus. When I was a kid growing up near Consul, a village in extreme southwest Saskatchewan, we lived less than a half mile south of the community and an East/West railway line. About a mile west there was a branch line angling toward the southeast, and a municipal road that ran north and south on the east side of this small triangle.

Trains ran almost daily back then, and there were far more farmers, and more farming activity. But within that busy and noisy triangle, Sage Grouse mated and nested. In the 50s and 60s, I personally watched them strut and drum just west of our buildings.greater-sage-grouse2-brian-currie

Then, in the late 1960s, coyote fur went out of style, and coyote numbers skyrocketed. There had been sheep on our farm for nearly 60 years, and while coyotes always enjoyed an occasional easy meal, in the late 60s and early 70s our losses began to increase dramatically, until one year, nearly 140 sheep were destroyed by coyotes. (A few years later, after my brother had taken over the farm, he made the decision to quit raising sheep entirely. Coyotes were actually coming into the farmyard to make their kills.)

I’ll hazard a guess that coyotes like a varied diet, and Sage Grouse might be a nice change from mutton and gophers. But in addition to the natural increase in coyote numbers, and at about the time Sage Grouse numbers began to decline, Red Foxes also showed up in the area. More lately, raccoons have arrived, and now, West Nile virus. Raccoons love eggs, and across the border in Montana, one localized Sage Grouse population was nearly wiped out by West Nile.

The Sage Grouse population  began a rapid decline during the time all these natural factors came into play. Do you suppose there’s a clue here as to why the Canadian population is threatened?

But there’s more! Here’s a release from Alberta Environment. “Swift foxes were first officially released in Alberta in 1983. By 1996, 540 foxes had been released in the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and Milk River Ridge areas, parts of the species’ native range. Swift foxes depend heavily on mice, larks, insects, and ground squirrels,” and note this; “the eggs of ground-nesting birds are eaten in the spring, and many grasshoppers are eaten in the summer.” The Alberta Government did this when Sage Grouse were already under pressure!

Yet who is blamed for the near extinction of Sage Grouse in Canada? Why ranchers and oilmen of course. But the true culprit is simply, Nature; Nature, with an assist from misguided governments and radical environmentalists. Coerced by environmental groups, the Canadian government has introduced regulations that will have minimal effect on saving the Sage Grouse, but, if fully implemented, may lead to the extinction, -in that area – of ranching as we’ve known it.

During our visit to Manyberries, we spoke with ranchers who have to deal with regulations so absurd that you’d think they’d been dreamed up by City of Calgary bureaucrats. More about our visit next week.

We need come together as a community of concerned citizens, urban and rural, who are constantly forced to deal with a wide variety of similar issues, and fight back!

The Let’s Do It Ourselves (LDIO™) online community has been created to do exactly that.

You can become a member of the community today, and become part of a movement designed fight for property rights, and other essential freedoms; push back against foolish over-regulation, and educate our young people. It costs less than a cup of coffee a week. That’s a pretty modest investment in your children and grandchildren’s future.

The Let’s Do It Ourselves community website is at