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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sharing the range: the challenges and opportunities for sustainable ranching and habitat conservation… Sadilkova, Regina Maria 1998

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SHARING THE RANGE: The Challenges & Opportunities for Sustainable Ranching & Habitat Conservation in the Municipal District of Pincher Creek by R E G I N A M A R I A S A D I L K O V A B. A r c h . , C a r l e t o n U n i v e r s i t y , 1988 T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F MASTER OF ARTS, PLANNING in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of Community and Regional Planning) W e accept this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g to the r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d T H E U N I V E R S I T Y ' O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A September 1998 © R e g i n a M a r i a S a d i l k o v a , 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The broad scope and intent of this thesis is to contribute to the body of research and writing about the loss of agricultural land due to development and the transformation of rural agricultural communities. At the more specific level, through interviews and secondary research, this thesis considers municipal land use planning in Alberta under the revised 1995 Municipal Government Act in the Municipal District (MD) of Pincher Creek No. 9, where cattle ranching, wildlife, and now, acreages vie for land resources. The critical questions addressed are: What are the conflicts between ranching and habitat conservation, and conversely, what opportunities do they share? What role can and does a municipality play in promoting sustainable ranching and conservation through its land use policy and jurisdiction? Set in southwest corner of Alberta, the M D of Pincher Creek is endowed with a remarkable history of ranching, ample resource wealth, and a unique climate and topography that supports a spectacular, rich, diverse ecosystem. Within the past few years, private agricultural land near Waterton Lakes National Park and the Castle River wilderness in the M D has come under speculative and development pressure predominantly for country residences, often retirement homes, and for tourism interests. Recent Municipal Act amendments have delegated substantially more land use control to rural municipalities, as a result the M D of Pincher Creek has more authority to make decisions that shape its future community profile, to mediate between competing land use interests, and to impact local ranching and habitat. The thesis analysis explores how the best practices of ranching or "sustainable ranching" can help to conserve and enhance habitat and how ranchers' attitudes can evolve to be more tolerant of wildlife. This thesis also explores and supports the efforts of a budding local land trust, SALTS, which plans to protect local agricultural land and habitat through conservation easements. Finally, the thesis concludes by envisioning ways the M D government can encourage habitat preservation, conservation easements, sustainable and economically viable ranching, as well as the control and direction of country residential development, all with a view to ensuring that future economic development opportunities remain available for local residents. ii Acknowledgments Research for this thesis had involved many government departments and libraries as well as local government in Pincher Creek. I wish to express my gratitude for the assistance of government librarians, officials, and staff members, all of whom were exceptionally knowledgeable, forthcoming with helpful documents, and readily available for my questions and interviews. Similarly, my gratitude goes to Pincher Creek residents and ranchers, who were also approachable and generous with their time. Finally, I wish to thank the members of the committee - Professor Alan Artibise, Senator Pat Carney, and Julie Glover, Vice Chair of British Columbia's Agricultural Land Commission - for their continued guidance, time, and support. ni Table of Contents Abstract page i i Acknowledgments i i i List of Figures, Tables & Illustrations v i i List of Abbreviations v i i i Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1. • Contex t Statement 2 1.2. • P r o b l e m Statement 4 1.3. • Thesis Objectives 5 . 1.4. • Research M e t h o d s 6 1.5. • Thesis O v e r v i e w 8 Chapter 2: Rural Planning, Conservation & Sustainable Ranching 2.1. • R u r a l P l a n n i n g i n A l b e r t a 11 2.1.1. Introducing the Challenges 11 2.1.2. Rural Sustainability 12 2.1.3. Sustainable Agriculture 15 2.1.4. Historical Overview of Rural Planning 18 2.1.5. Planning & the 1995 Munic ipal Government Act 20 2.2. • Pr iva te P r o p e r t y & C o n s e r v a t i o n 23 2.2.1. Conservation by Nature-Ethics 23 2.2.2. Conservation by Capitalism 24 2.2.3. Conservation by Regulation 26 2.2.4. Conservation by Easements 27 iv 2.3 • Sustainable Ranching 30 2.3.1. "Sustainable Ranching" is Not an Oxymoron 30 2.3.2. Principles of Ranching Sustainably 32 Chapter 3 : Profile of Pincher Creek, Alberta 3.1. • Ecological Context 44 3.1.1. Climate 44 3.1.2. Biodiversity 45 3.1.3. Wildlife 47 White-Tailed & Mule Deer 47 Elk 48 Moose 48 Wolf 48 Grizzly & Black Bear 49 3.1.4. Environmental Initiatives 50 3.2. • Settlement History 52 3.2.1. Colonial Settlement 52 3.2.3. Recent Settlement 54 3.3. • Economic Profile 57 3.3.1. Agricultural Base 58 3.3.2. Resource Extraction 59 3.3.3. Tourism & Recreation 60 Chapter 4: Ranching in Pincher Creek 4.1. • Ranching & Wildlife 67 4.1.1. Managing Rangelands 67 4.1.2. Managing Access 70 4.2. • Ranching & Resource Extraction 72 4.3. • Ranching & Conservation 74 4.3.1. Ranching Culture & Conservation 74 4.3.2. Conservation Easement Survey 75 4.3.3. Southern Alberta Land Trust Society 76 v Chapter 5: Challenges & Opportunities 5.1. • Current Planning & Policy Overview 81 5.1.1. Local Awareness 81 5.1.2. Municipal Development Planning & Land Use Bylaws 83 5.1.3. Juggling Subdivisions & Land Use Bylaws 85 5.2. • Challenges & Opportunities 88 5.2.1. Political Representation 88 5.2.2. Subdivision 90 5.2.3. Land Values & Ranching Economics 93 5.2.4. Property Taxation & Municipal Revenue 95 5.2.5. Community Economic Development & Tourism 101 5.2.6. Habitat Protection on Local Provincial & Federal Lands 103 Chapter 6: Conclusions 6.1. • Sharing the Range 110 6.2. • Envisioning Futures in Pincher Creek 114 6.3. • Planning in the Greater Rural Context 119 Bibliography 122 Appendix A: Maps 130 Appendix B: Alberta Land Use Policies Summary 132 Appendix C: Westcastle Development History 133 Appendix D : Personal Communications 135 Appendix E: Communication Plan 136 Appendix F: Sample Conservation Easement Form 138 vi List of Tables, Figures, & Illustrations Figure 1: M D of P incher Creek L o c a t i o n M a p page 7 Figure 2: M D of P incher Creek L a b o u r Prof i l e 57 Table l : P i n c h e r C r e e k H i s t o r i c a l Census 54 Illustration 1: O l d m a n R i v e r Reservo i r VaSe 1 Illustration 2: M D of P incher Creek T o p o g r a p h y 10 Illustration 3: W i n d T u r b i n e s o n P i n c h e r C r e e k Ranges s 43 Illustration 4: W i l d l i f e G r a z i n g o n G l a d s t o n e V a l l e y P r i v a t e L a n d 49 Illustration 5: Acreages a l o n g the C r o w s n e s t R i v e r 56 Illustration 6: Acreages , B u l l s , & Hei fers for Sale 56 Illustration 7: Cat t le G r a z i n g a l o n g W e s t Cast le V a l l e y 66 Illustration 8: P u m p Jack o n G r a z i n g Range 73 Illustration 9: She l l W a t e r t o n Gas P lant 73 Illustration 10: G l a d s t o n e V a l l e y ' 76 Illustration 11: T o w n of P incher C r e e k f r o m H i g h w a y 6 L o o k i n g N o r t h 80 Illustration 12: Beaver M i n e s A e r i a l P h o t o g r a p h y 91 Illustration 13: The Hamlet of Beaver M i n e s 91 Illustration 14: T w o V i e w s , East a n d West , f r o m H i g h w a y 6 97 illustration 15: G r a i n F a r m near W h a l e b a c k 109 Illustration 16: Cast le W i l d e r n e s s 104 Illustration 17: W a t e r t o n Lakes N a t i o n a l P a r k f r o m H i g h w a y 6 104 Illustration 18: Residents o n the Range 118 vii List of Abbreviations A A M D C Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy C A A Canadian Cattlemens' Association CAPP Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers C C E D A Crown of the Continent Electronic Data Atlas CCWC Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition CLI Canada Land Inventory COGAB Canadian Organic Growers Advisory Board EIA Environmental Impact Assessment ESA environmentally significant area ha hectares ICURR Intergovernmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research IRP Integrated Resource Plan kg kilograms km kilometres M D Municipal District MDP Municipal Development Plan M G A Municipal Government Act NRCB Natural Resources Conservation Board ORV off road vehicle SALTS Southern Alberta Land Trust Society US or USA United States of America W D A Westcastle Development Authority W M U Wildlife Management Unit WSGA Western Stock Growers' Association Y 2 Y Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative viii Chapter 1: Introduction Illustration 1: Oldman River Reservoir Source: Author To-day Alberta stands peerless among cattle countries of the world; and the unknown land of a few years ago is now looked to as one of the greatest future supply depots of the British markets. "Alberta, Canada" i n Guide to Settlers, 1888 1 1.1. Context Statement Rural challenges for planning and developing more sustainable livelihoods and land uses are different from those in the urban context, where much of the literature about sustainability is focused. Yet, through food production and resource extraction, the impact of an urban population's ecological footprint, a comparative measure of "the area of ecologically productive land and water occupied exclusively to produce all the resources consumed and to assimilate all the wastes generated by that population, using prevailing technology,"1 is disproportionately brought to bear in rural areas. Rural communities that rely upon a single industry or limited agricultural diversity are inherently more vulnerable than urban centres; they are more subject to a range of forces from variable weather, to destructive microbiology, to market fluctuations. Soil exhaustion, over grazing, and non-point pollution due to agricultural practices comprise a part of the ecological footprint for inexpensive, mass food production. Through day to day management decisions and practices, rural landowners are responsible for the environmental and habitat quality of vast tracts of privately held land. As a part of the global food market, farmers and ranchers are not always economically empowered to make the best decisions regarding the sustainable stewardship of their land. Agricultural operations create upwards of 50% of the non point pollution that eventually ends up in rivers and lakes before continuing up the food chain.2 Addressing this situation at the front line may be up to operators and regulators - but ultimately, it is up to all of greater society. Historically, local jurisdiction over land uses has been less enabling for rural areas in comparison with urban regions. Until 1996, land use planning - as well as subdivision and development applications and appeals in rural Alberta - were controlled either directly by the Department of Municipal Affairs or by one of eleven regional planning commissions. These responsibilities now rest with local municipal councils or private agencies designated by these councils.3 Although this delegation of authority encourages municipal autonomy and the 2 potential for land use policies that are more responsive to the will of the electorate, it may also mean that policies are more vulnerable to a changing local agenda and rrdnimal commitment to long term conservation. Planning issues, beyond the current scope of increased local authority, arise if rural land has two excessively disparate market values: one for agriculture and one for development. When rural areas near natural amenities are under development pressure and agriculture yields low profits, conserving natural diversity and the agricultural land base over the long term is problematic under any municipal regime. While Canada's rural areas are subject to continuous change, a phase of more intense transformation and increased complexity has recently begun. First, family farms are becoming incorporated in response to market rationalizations as well as tax and inheritance laws.4 Second, the average age of farm operators has increased with each Canadian census for the past three decades. In Alberta, where the average farm operator age was 49 in 1991,5 approximately one half of all farms will change ownership within the next 20 years. Third, economically viable farm operations are buying out small and mid-sized operations and significantly increasing in size. Next, a network of issues - from erosion to risks commensurate with genetic altering of seeds6 and public concern for meat consumption escalating antibiotic resistance - have heightened farm operators' environmental awareness. Despite this awareness, operators, especially those with marginal operations, adjust practices to serve buyers and markets, often at the expense of environmental best-practices. Last, changes brought on by the consolidation of the North American food industry have meant fewer buyers competing for agricultural products and less market differentiation of production practices. One noteworthy consequence of these changes is that relative to per capita income, Canadians (and North Americans generally) have enjoyed among the lowest food prices in the world. 3 1.2. Problem Statement Land use is the focus of most planning, legislation, and development in rural areas; land is often considered a rural community's most valuable resource. Moreover, sustainability in rural areas is significantly more embedded in land use than in any other planning issue. From the wealth of issues and interests related to land use, this thesis focuses upon the following three interrelated interests: agricultural, in this case ranching; wildlife habitat conservation; and municipal planning. The critical questions addressed in this thesis are: What are the conflicts between ranching sustainably and conserving habitat? What opportunities do they share? What role can and does a municipality play in promoting sustainable ranching and conservation through its land use policy and jurisdiction? These questions encompass many issues, including private property rights, conservation inducements, right-to-farm legislation, and empowerment of rural municipal governments. The thesis case study, the rural Municipal District (MD) of Pincher Creek No. 9 7 in southwestern Alberta, will serve to sharpen the focus upon these land use issues. This jurisdiction has been selected for its geographic proximity to Crown-held wildlife habitat and Waterton Lakes National Park; its predominantly cattle ranching and secondarily natural gas extraction based economy; and the application of the new Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA). Pincher Creek is a tributary of the Old Man River which originates in the adjacent Rocky Mountains and receives most of the watersheds of a prime ecological area. Cattle rangeland is shared with major elk and deer populations. Occasional calf kills due to wolves or bears and retaliatory predator shootings have exacerbated the long-standing antagonism between area ranchers and environmentalists. Ironically, these ranchers and environmentalists still share many interests in regards to habitat preservation and the long term stewardship of rangeland, yet too seldom do they participate in cooperative projects. For more than one hundred years, cattle ranching has remained Pincher Creek's economic base, but its viability is increasingly threatened. Local ranching, already subject to pressure from resource extraction, controversy from environmental advocates, and a declining 4 market share, is currently also under intense development pressure from country residential subdivision. Dissatisfied with municipal efforts to protect agricultural interests, a small group of local ranchers are forming a land trust society, the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS), to protect their interests and, incidentally, local wildlife habitat. Provincial law in Alberta requires that a qualified nonprofit organization serve as a guarantor and administrator of conservation easements. Under the Societies Act, SALTS can function as a nonprofit "guarantor" or holder of local conservation easements. Aside from conservation easements, there are other mechanisms for conservation of agricultural land and habitat including transfer or purchase of development rights, ecological leases, and trust dedications.8 This thesis remains focused upon conservation easements due to their proven effectiveness on American ranch lands under similar pressures and because locally, foundations for a land trust are already established. Private easements have the power to override municipal policies and regulations by applying further restrictions to land uses, independently of municipal initiatives. Granted either for a long term or for perpetuity, conservation easements applied to extensive lands can have a profound impact upon the future shape of a community. To date Alberta municipal planners have rarely played a role in establishing or managing land trusts, yet future municipal plans, policies, and bylaws may be profoundly affected as a consequence of active land trust societies. 1.3. Thesis Objectives The central goal of this thesis is to identify the challenges and opportunities of municipal land use policies which encourage long term sustainability - both economic and ecological - for rural communities. This thesis will explore the relationship between municipal land use policy, development pressure, conservation, and ranching in Pincher Creek. A more specific thesis goal is to recommend how municipal planning in the M D can be coordinated with ranch-based conservation easements. Three key steps are integral to achieving the central thesis goal. The first step is to 5 define and discuss the concept of sustainable ranching and the challenges to and benefits of sustainable ranching. Secondly, introducing the most prevalent ideologies of conservation will prepare a conceptual framework for how the best and most sustainable practices of ranching can be supported. Maintaining ecosystem health is critical for supporting both ranching and healthy wildlife populations; thereby, the status of ecosystems and Wildlife populations can be considered an indicator of sustainable ranching. The third step is to analyze the effect of legislative changes upon Pincher Creek agricultural land and habitat - now and in the future. Expanded municipal jurisdiction, potential property tax assessment revisions, and recent conservation easement enabling laws have created a new stage for political, social, and economic dynamics to be played out. 1.4. Research Methods Research for the thesis and case study of Pincher Creek is based upon both primary and secondary sources. An extensive, diverse collection of documents forms the case study literature review. There are several reasons why this area is so well documented. The M D of Pincher Creek is adjacent to a national park and overlaps endangered species movement corridors between protected areas in the United States and Canada. The desire to protect wildlife and wilderness has inspired groups such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem Data Atlas (CCEDA) which conduct, sponsor, and publish reports and research. In addition, the wealth of natural resources, particularly natural gas, and speculation for tourism development have prompted exhaustive environmental impact assessments, consultant reports, and public hearings. Further to these publications, four intensive surveys administered within the case study area under the auspices of the University of Calgary in conjunction with various interest groups, also provide valuable secondary sources.9 These surveys have investigated ranchers' attitudes to conservation easements; landowners' attitudes toward wildlife and range management practices; sustainable ranching and organic beef production; and planners' impressions of the land use planning processes on M D Crown land. Additional research for this thesis included numerous personal interviews and 6 telephone conferences. The interviews were not intended to be statistically significant or representative; rather, they focused upon stakeholders with interests in the thesis problem and served as a cross reference to the secondary literature. Among the interviewees were the ranchers who are initiating SALTS; ranchers who are sympathetic to the idea of conservation easements but will not participate; the M D planner; the Alberta Environment Protection regional planner; and an environmental group whose goal is to protect Castle Crown lands. Supplemental interviews were also conducted with several government policy analysts from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development. Secondary sources of a more general nature were consulted for background and reference throughout the course of thesis research. This research was broadly based, from property rights, conservation, and Pincher Creek area history to beef production and agricultural commodity pricing and trade. Commentaries on rural planning, sustainability, and community economic development were also reviewed. Finally, insofar as deterring subdivision for acreages and keeping land costs within the economic means of agricultural buyers, the land trusts that have successfully protected American ranch lands along the Rockies immediately south of the study area were also researched as a comparative base for this work. Figure 1: National Park 7 2.5. Thesis Overview This thesis progresses from a conceptual discussion of the three selected land use interests - planning, conservation, and ranching - and moves to a specific description and later to an analysis of the Pincher Creek case study. Private land use and sustainable rural development serve as conceptual threads that link the thesis. "Chapter 1: Introduction" explains the context, the problem statement, and the parameters of research. Chapter 2 is divided into a literature review of three parts. First, the concept of rural planning for sustainability is defined, then the M G A and planning in rural Alberta are reviewed in relation to planning for sustainability and supporting agriculture. The second part compares the role that ethics, markets, and governments play in constraining or encouraging land uses that promote ecological conservation. Chapter 2 ends with a section that defends and describes sustainable ranching and the special role it can play in habitat preservation. The three chapters that follow concentrate upon the case study. Chapter 3 provides general background on the Pincher Creek context, including area history, the environment, and the local economy for readers unfamiliar with this area. A more specific overview and discussion of ranching and the relationship between habitat preservation and ranching in the case study is provided in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 offers a critical analysis of the current municipal district land use bylaw, statutory development planning, as well as the municipality's approach to subdivision applications and how all these policies relate to ranching practices. This chapter explores the role of municipal jurisdiction over land use and how this power affects ranching practices and in turn wildlife habitat. Chapter 6, a brief concluding chapter, envisions how municipal planning can encourage sustainable ranching and in turn habitat preservation. Although these visions are specific to Pincher Creek, selected observations relating to planning for sustainability can be distilled and applied in the greater rural context. They are put forth at the end of this chapter. 8 Chapter 1: Footnotes 1 Wackernagel, M., 1998, "What's an Ecological Footprint?" See Rees and Wackernagel (1996) for a full explanation of this concept. 2 Daniels and Bowers, 1997: p. 82 - 84. Estimates of non point pollution vary by region. 3 Legislation revisions were extensive and phased over three dates: May 17, 1995; September 1, 1995; and December 31,1995. 4 Financial necessity prompts farm families to incorporate in order to bypass personal liability, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes. Several government programs encourage and facilitate farm incorporation. 6Alberta Agriculture, 1995: Table 108. 6 One example of this risk is the 1996 Monsanto Canada Incorporated accident, when the wrong gene was spliced into 60,000 bags of canola seed and shipped to Alberta farmers. Although this event was not broadcast in Canadian news, it resulted in a ban on modified seed exports to Europe where it was publicized. 7 Hereafter the "No. 9" after Pincher Creek will be omitted. Note: there is also a "Town of Pincher Creek," a discrete municipality that does not share the same rural, ranching, and habitat concerns and interests as the MD of Pincher Creek. References to the town will be identified and distinguished from the MD. Where "Pincher Creek" is used, this is a reference to the greater geographic region. 8 See the 1996 Senate of Canada report Protecting Places and People, Table 1, pages 67 to 76, for a more complete overview of various mechanisms. 9 These surveys are fully annotated in the bibliography. 9 Chapter 2: Rural Planning, Conservation & Sustainable Ranching Illustration 2: M D of Pincher Creek Topography Source: Author The term 'agri-business-man" is used partly as a euphemism for "farmer," and, not surprisingly, many farmers aspire to be "agri-business men." There is virtually no public appreciation of the complex disciplines necessary to good farming. Good farming is lumped in with bad farming as a form of drudgery, not esteemed as the high accomplishment that it necessarily must be. This contempt is as readily found among the businessmen, journalists, academics, and experts who "serve" agriculture as anywhere else. Wendell Berry "The Gift of Good Land" in Standing on Earth, 1991 10 2.1. Rural Planning in Alberta The first section of this chapter begins with a broad discussion about planning in the rural context and how this relates to the concept of "rural sustainability" and "agricultural sustainability." Then focusing in upon Alberta, a historical account of how local planning has evolved and led up to the 1995 Municipal Government Act, follows. Subsequently, the Act is discussed in the final subsection. 2.1.1. Introducing the Challenges Distinguishing rural planning from the greater body of planning in Canada is often articulated merely in terms of planning that is not urban and should therefore evoke a different planning response.1 Characteristically, the rural context has a lower population density, shared utility infrastructure is restricted to electricity supply, and economic diversity is often limited. A rural economy, whether based in agriculture, resource extraction, or tourism, can be more subject to seasonal cycles, broad market driven boom-bust cycles, or cbmmodity-value/resource-supply dependency in the instance of single resource towns. Finally, many of Canada's rural areas are subject to a depleted youth population, high under or unemployment, and a lack of diversity of secondary manufacturing and service sectors. These are among the central issues delineating and challenging rural planning. Rural planners at the municipal government level also face more specific challenges. First, they have access to fewer tools to shape the future of their community than their urban counterparts; yet the same mechanisms - zoning, setbacks, plot ratios- have been transplanted to the rural planning context.2 Difficulties arise when the meaning of a "single family residence," applied to multi-generation extended family farms can neither be clearly defined nor enforced. Second, small rural municipalities with minimal staff have less diversity in expertise; for example, a staff engineer might also manage all municipal pbnning or a local planner may have professional credentials but no background in agriculture, forestry, or any of the specific activities that comprise the area's economic base.3 Planning links from the rural local level to higher levels of government which have multi-disciplinary expertise often operate 11 on an unreliable, ad hoc basis. Regardless of expertise, the scale of rural governance means more municipal decisions are implemented directly through council instead of being delegated to an administrative body. Third, since outside of small towns, rural communities are less dependent on municipal government for service provision such as public transportation, curb-side refuse collection, bylaw enforcement, and public utilities, there has been less focus upon this level of government when looking to address sustainability issues. Finally, where a community is subject to economic decline, rural planning challenges are more often manifested through community economic development ventures than conservation of natural resources and sustainability. 2.1.2. Rural Sustainability A review of existing literature reveals that planning for rural sustainability in Canada is typically phrased in terms of the more modest goals of community stability, resilience, and self-determination. Three categories - community, environmental, and economic - are high-lighted as key in most discussions about sustainability, rural or otherwise. Although general discussions do serve to create a conceptual framework, they are constrained by a lack of context. They do not account for specific political and geographical contexts where important and difficult questions such as, "What are we sustaining and for whom?" should be asked. Specific sustainability issues are addressed in "Section 2.3: Sustainable Ranching" and through the case study in later chapters. Accordingly, the following discussion on the general challenges for sustainability is brief. First, where limited employment opportunities exist, rural communities often decline in community sustainability due to out-migration of local youth. Studies of this trend published by Gerald Hodge, who found that the majority of Canada's rural areas are demographically ahead, in cases some twenty years ahead, of cities with their high, 20 to 25%, elderly population. In terms of accommodating this trend, only 15% of rural municipalities incorporate specific senior's needs into local municipal planning.4 Hodge describes a gradual population shift from rural farming areas to nearby small towns to, in late retirement, urban 12 areas where the required health care is available. As agricultural communities pursue economic sustainability and continually adjust to less labour intensive production methods, rural community sustainability declines. By contrast, agricultural communities endowed with scenic, natural, or geographic assets, can attract in-migration. In the thesis case study, in-migration may compromise the potential for agricultural community sustainability. This problem more often affects urban fringe farmland, areas adjacent to national or provincial parks and those with recreational or cottage opportunities. Importantly, according to Gary Sandberg of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), the perceived need to attract new residents versus the need to keep them out and to legislate protection of farmland is the most controversial issue facing member municipalities.5 Second, although rural communities are in closer proximity to the natural environment, this does not mean they are more environmentally sustainable than cities. Certainly, the environment has an immediate impact upon rural communities relying upon natural systems and natural resources, but conservation and protection often take a back-seat to industrial and agricultural concerns.6 Rural environmental sustainability and resilience is threatened by both natural externalities, such as adverse weather cycles or random climatic catastrophes, as well as human-induced "surprise" events, such as seed failure or mono culture collapse as in the tragic case of the Irish potato famine. Likewise, decreased soil productivity due to nutrient exhaustion, erosion, and aggressive tillage or summerfallow practices is a less spectacular but, over the long run, more damaging threat to rural sustainability.7 According to a cross-Canada ICURR8 study, The Integration of Environmental Assessment and Municipal Planning, there is increased concern for the environment at the municipal planning level but the lack of staff capacity, funding, authority, and understanding of eco-systems constrain environmental sustainability.9 Achieving environmental sustainability is more challenging for rural communities than urban, because it places severe limitations on what can be harvested, mined, sold, and ecologically compromised. If municipal governments and local planners are overly responsive to property owners and development interests, but disregard environmental assessment, the challenges become even greater. The third challenge for rural sustainability is economic resilience. The diversification of 13 income sources is frustrated by a self-propelled market system that rewards production efficiency. For example, in the context of ranching, between 1981 and 1991 the number of beef processing plants that purchase cattle has halved in the USA and reduced by a third in Canada.10 Beef commodities are recognized as a buyers,' not sellers', market. Efficiency has meant geographic economies of scale with buyers dictating production methods and streamlined agricultural precincts. Agricultural communities can begin to resemble single resource towns. Farming communities then become subject to the fragile economies that trouble resource communities.11 Again, rural planning for sustainability focuses more upon economic resilience and community economic initiatives, than the production methods and the lifestyles of community residents. Some rural communities have actively encouraged retirees and other residents with external income sources to move into the community as a means of economic diversification.12 Ray Rasker, an American ecological economist, has explored the transformation of rural communities at the perimetre of Yellowstone National Park and found that resource-based activities had declined and Were replaced by a network of income sources imported into the community and then recycled through it. (Rasker has also published a report on the economic importance of enhancing the environmental quality of Westcastle Valley in the M D of Pincher Creek.13) These diversified communities have experienced conflicts between residents who rely upon resource-based activities, including agriculture, and new residents who are not economically dependent upon local resources. Right-to-farm legislation, present in one form or another in all ten provinces, has been the regulatory response to protecting the less pastoral activities of agricultural production in the face of this conflict. Finally, planning for rural sustainability means the community should be empowered to direct their future. A community may have to choose between environmental sustainability and certain agricultural production practices or resource extraction opportunities. Perhaps agricultural and economic sustainability along with population increase can not be accommodated. The point is that a rural community which aspires to plan for a sustainable future must have the necessary autonomy to realize its plan. Autonomy is contingent not only upon jurisdictional authority, but also and arguably more so, upon some level of economic 14 well-being. A degree of wealth buys a community control of its resources; that in turn empowers the pursuit of sustainability policies and begins a kind of cause-effect spiral. Hence a self-directed, sustainable, vibrant community seems progressively harder (or easier) to achieve. In Planning as Technological Change: Impacts on the Autonomy of Rural Communities, Eric Higgs observes that despite increased municipal planning autonomy there is increasingly more homogeneity amongst rural communities and their approaches to plarming and governance. Higgs argues that technology, having become pervasive within governance and economic systems, is another obstacle to community autonomy. Higgs believes that shared technology, centralized markets, and globalization are encouraged by and encourage normative planning processes and standards.14 Put simply, rural communities determined to transform their planning policies with a view to sustainability encounter major challenges. 2.1.3. Sustainable Agriculture As mentioned previously, generalizing about planning for sustainability among diverse rural communities is problematic, so a more detailed discussion on agricultural sustainability better serves the conceptual framework of this thesis. Agricultural sustainability theories generally begin with the basics of productivity, but from there opinions diverge.15 The Journal of Sustainable Agriculture definition emphasizes that the basics including soil, water, air quality and greater ecosystem productivity and health must remain undiminished or even enhanced into the future. Similarly, in For the Common Good, Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr. explain how agricultural land must remain as productive in one century as today.16 The concept of food security and self-sufficiency is also typically raised; however, there are diverse and conflicting approaches to maintaining and measuring productivity and agricultural self-sufficiency. For some, the tolerable sphere of secure food supply is limited by a bioregional or national boundary; others extend this boundary to include an entire continent or a trading block of countries. Maximizing agricultural production and even overproduction to ensure food security at the risk of driving prices down, is used to justify extensive agricultural chemical input by some proponents of the Green Revolution.17 Suppliers such as 15 France-based Groupe Linagrain, which controls approximately one third of the world's seeds, and processors such as Cargill, the world's largest privately held corporation,18 defend bio-technology's role in agribusiness. They argue that agricultural sustainability equates with ample cheap food supply;19 overproduction keeps food prices down for the consumer but it also pressures rural producers to be more efficient and competitive. Conversely, agriculturists such as Brewster Kneen or Wendell Berry and ecological economists such as Herman Daly or Paul Hawken argue that overproduction actually compromises rural community sustainability and chemical input compromises long run environmental sustainability. They believe that the absence of full fiscal accounting for the external impacts of chemical practices are in fact hidden subsidies to agri-business which mask true economic sustainability. They insist there is no longer culture in agri-culture and call for a return to traditional agricultural practices despite potentially increased food costs.20 Upon introduction to the ranching community in southwestern Alberta, one is hard pressed to dispute the presence of an agricultural community culture. Yet, Alberta ranching was originally established and culturally "constructed" virtually overnight in the mid 1880s, the result of politically well-connected beef exporters. Likewise, it was the colonial government's ambitious homesteading policy and Canadian Pacific Railway promotions and advertisements that "invented" the farming community over the following decade. The paradox of romanticizing rural farm life and the business of food production obstructs a clearer discussion of the issues and draws the professional practice of planning into the dialectic of rural cultural and community values. One notion of prairie rural life - first contrived by the Canadian Pacific Railway and abetted by the Dominion of Canada Ministry for the Interior - overlaid romantic, fecund, pastoral notions of the prairie and exaggerated the potential for agricultural wealth.21 Another, more pragmatic notion, pushed "proper scientific practices of farming''22 and settlement policies that served political and economic interests, particularly those of the railways, the colonial government, and land speculators. This dialectic is explored in The Prairie West, through MacPherson and Thompson's "The Business of Agriculture" and David Jones' analysis of the construction of a country life ideology in 16 "There is Some Power About the Land." 2 3 The first essay stressed the instrumental role agri-business has played since colonization in rural communitarian development, for example, the United Farmers' Association. The latter essay explores how the farmer was elevated next to nature, closer to God and how a "pure" agrarian spirit and culture were created in the media and perpetuated by the community itself.24 Alberta's ranchers perpetuate this contradiction in industry campaigns advertising "Naturally, Alberta Beef" with images of burly cowboys on horseback set against a picturesque backdrop of rolling fields and mountains, instead of the reality of feedlots. Meanwhile their industry association is significantly less romantic and more politically and business oriented. This contradiction is perpetuated by neo-homesteaders who wish to retire to a "ranchette" or acreage amidst quaint farming operations, where 10,000 herd feedlots, hog operations, and chemical crop dusting are not included in the picture. It is left to rural planners and municipal councils to negotiate and arbitrate conflicting visions through managing land use, subdivision, development, and bylaws. Alberta - with Canada's second biggest agriculture industry and active well represented rural constituencies - still struggles to attain rural sustainability in regions dependent upon agriculture. Even as agriculture revenues have increased to record-breaking levels through most of the 1990s, so do the number of bankruptcies. Between 1994 and 1995, Alberta farm bankruptcies increased 19% while across the rest of Canada they decreased 7%.25 Over the past five years the Province has encouraged agricultural sector market liberalization and reorganization by eliminating a broad range of agricultural programs.26 This policy of deregulation and subsidy elimination was consistent with changes to other sectors and programs, including municipal and regional planning. Rural planning and agricultural policy have been informed by the same Alberta politics and economics, and consequently, share a history. 17 2.1.4. Historical Overview of Rural Planning For over 100 years there has been a gradual devolution of authority and responsibility from imperial government, to colony, to nation, to province, to regional commission, and finally, to local government. The act of cultivation or resource extraction has been described by some recent theorists as, "the colonization of nature." Rural Alberta land use planning and agriculture began in the 19th Century as a process of colonizing First Nations and land. Doug Owram accurately phrased the wave of settlement that harnessed Prairie resources as the "Promise of Eden." Unfortunately this "Eden" was to be rapidly exploited as natural resources and wildlife were plundered and available lands were claimed. The first attempt to slow down exploitation and manage resources and land more sustainably over the longer term came in 1910 with the efforts of the Commission of Conservation. Later, as planning and agriculture developed, more comprehensive, regional, and scientific models prevailed and continued to evolve. By way of introducing the new Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA), four eras of rural planning are presented in the following section. Sir Clifford Sifton headed the Commission of Conservation, an independent advisory and review body, from 1910 to 1920.27 Formerly Minister for the Interior, Sifton was well informed about overgrazed ranges; wildlife extinction; conflicts between ranching and settlement; and the failure of the homesteading policy in southwest Alberta. In conjunction with the Commission, Thomas Adams published a major 1917 report, Rural Planning and Development in Canada, which enumerated the problems and conditions of settlement and development across Canada. The Commission also documented the vast potential of Alberta's coal, gas, and oil reserves. It is not surprising that after 1905 when Alberta became a province, planning for and control of natural resources still remained with the Dominion. The Commission's report of 1919, Power in Alberta: Water, Coal, and Natural Gas, located, quantified, and gauged the capacity of these resources and how they were to benefit Canada. James White, the report author and assistant to Sifton, estimated that Alberta contained 87% of Canada's coal and its greatest reserves of gas and petroleum,28 resources that should not be released from federal control too quickly. This prolonged kind of "colonization" of the 18 Prairies by central Canadian interests in agricultural commodities, land use, and resource control ended, in terms of formal legislation, with the Natural Resources Transfer Act of the 1930s. The following era responded to the Prairie Dust-bowl, the Great Depression, WWII, and in part, the failure of homesteading and mixed farming in southern Alberta. Planning became more proactive and "modern" in its approach to agriculture and rural development. The federal government passed the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and, provincially, the early foundations of regional planning commissions were set. By the early 1950s, prairie agriculture adopted more modern scientific methods of soil classification, irrigation, dryland farming, seed selection, and eventually, mechanization.29 In the face of low revenues, Regional Planning Commissions evolved from municipal cooperative networks to facilitate public works and share expertise. Planning had finally emerged as a distinct profession. The next few decades saw increased waves of development, agricultural productivity, government research and programs, and resource management. Key examples of land use planning in this era include the 1960s Canada Land Inventory (CLI) and Alberta Land Use Forum of the 1970s. Both projects were comprehensive in scope and heroic in intent. The CLI set out to facilitate planning by classifying and mapping lands according to productivity, soil characteristics, recreation potential, and game productivity. Despite the technological limits of the 1960s, a biased anthropocentric approach, limited understandings of eco-system interrelationships, and lack of interagency coordination, the CLI has proved to be an invaluable resource for rural planning.30 The Alberta Land Use Forum was endowed with similar broad goals and budgets. The Forum held over 80 public hearings and its authors travelled extensively through Canada and Europe to explore and compare land use policies. Eventually it published eight volumes with over 3000 pages of recommendations and findings, on everything from property rights, housing, agriculture, and other general planning concerns.31 The Forum had not anticipated an imminent economic decline, so recommendations that assumed major government expenditures, including provincial land banking and increased government involvement in planning and regulation, never came to pass. In retrospect, the Forum and the volumes of other studies and projects published in the 1970s, were positioned 19 at the historic pinnacle of government sponsored comprehensive planning in Alberta. The economic recession of the 1980s, coupled with record low wheat prices and declining provincial revenues, ushered in an era of program reductions that would later be called "fiscal responsibility" by the Alberta Progressive Conservative Government. Decreased yields and record farm bankruptcies came to be recognized as "the crisis in Canadian farming."32 Numerous studies and publications analyzing agricultural sustainability, improved cultivation practices, rural economic development and planning concerns were undertaken. The Alberta Government responded by increasing market orientation and encouraging the diversification of agriculture. So far, higher income crops like canola and the introduction of game ranching provisions have proved financially successful for many farmers.33 Then, after farm receipts recovered to record highs in the 1990s, the Province began terminating agricultural programs with a view to industry independence.34 While the agricultural sector was in the midst of these changes, the Department of Municipal Affairs was subject to similar overhauls. Municipal Affairs participated in several reform-oriented projects: Vision 2020 guided municipalities through planning and envisioning their futures; the Municipal Government Local Autonomy: You Want It You Got It contained the first proposals for major legislative changes; and A Municipal Government Act for the 21st Century introduced the changes. These projects prepared the ground for reductions in municipal operating grants and the elimination of Alberta's Regional Planning Commissions -along with a sizable portion of the Department of Municipal Affairs itself. 2.1.5. Planning & the 1995 Municipal Government Act (MGA) Via the new MGA, the government sought to consolidate a network of legislation into one concise, plainly worded act that delegated increased authority in a broad enabling, not restrictive, manner.35 It offered individual municipalities empowerment, flexibility, and the provision for privatization of municipal services and decision-making, mcluding land use planning, permits, appeals, and bylaws. To these ends, twenty-one acts relating to planning and municipal governance were repealed and an additional four were consolidated into the 20 new MGA; school board functions were further separated from municipal functions; and rural municipal governments were granted control of land use policy, zoning, subdivision and development applications, as well as the appeals to those applications. Municipalities were now also obliged to meet certain minimal public participation requirements, to follow fifteen Provincial Land Use Policies, and to adopt a Land Use Bylaw and a Municipal Development Plan.36 Meanwhile, even as property taxation has recently been adjusted to market-based assessment, there have been no allowances for new revenue sources nor provisions for broadening municipal taxation mechanisms to pay for this increased level of responsibility and to more effectively realize autonomy.37 Since the M G A is relatively recent, little analysis of its consequences and implications is available. There are, however, several commentaries about its anticipated implications which have been supplemented by interviews with local planners and provincial officials. According to Bill Nugent, head of the legal division of Alberta Municipal Affairs, many small rural municipalities perceive this legislation as mere "downloading of responsibility."38 They have concerns regarding increased liability exposure as they take on weightier responsibilities, often without adequate professional counsel. Another M G A expert, Fred Laux, a professor previously at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law, has questioned the application of the Canadian Charter and other administrative law remedies or common law precedents (for example, fairness rules) in cases of court challenges to municipal decision made by private agencies who now exercise traditionally governmental decision-making.39 Court challenges and liability litigation under the M G A have yet to be played out. Other M G A commentators, representing developer's interests and environmental concerns, have expressed their lack of confidence in local governments and the increase in their authority. The director of the Alberta Urban Development Institute, an association of developers, real estate companies, utility providers, and consultants, has expressed the following concerns: unstable standards; widely different planning procedures between jurisdictions; and biased decision-making, particularly at local hearings for development and subdivision appeals.40 Similar concerns that increased local autonomy will drive down environmental standards were expressed by environmental lawyer Douglas Graham. Graham 21 notes that while there are only subtle changes in overall environmental legislation, the lack of precise language and the non-restrictive approach of the Act leaves environmental conservation optional.41 Both parties favoured the previous seven regional commissions that comprised most of Alberta for their ability to maintain consistent and predictable standards. With respect to agricultural sustainability, there are no specific provisions to protect agricultural land among the Provincial Land Use Policies.42 Due to the lack of consensus over agricultural land policy among the membership of A A M D C , the Province decidedly refrained from stipulating specific provisions and allowed individual municipalities to determine local measures for conservation and protection.43 Hence, the new M G A focuses upon autonomy and stipulates that environmental matters "may" - not "must" - be addressed in a Municipal Development Plan (MDP). Both the M D of Pincher Creek planner and Ministry officials agree the Land Use Policies are broad and vague. Moreover, even if they are not followed, the Province does not formally review a municipality's planning policies.44 Finally, parallel to changes in Alberta's agricultural policies, the new M G A has implemented a less regulatory, more laissez-faire approach to municipal planning. 22 2.2. Private Property & Conservation Understanding environmental conservation on private property is a part of the greater body of thought and writing about humanity's essence and its place in the world. These ideologies inform both societal and individual values, politics, and actions. They can be categorized and distinguished for comparative purposes, though in practice they occur along continuums, from moderate to extreme, and do not generally exist as mutually exclusive ideologies. Western Civilization has proved its capacity to accommodate contradictory environmental values and practices. For the purposes of a workable conceptual framework, three commonly identified approaches to conservation - ethical, market, and regulatory - are delineated and discussed in the following three subsections. Later, the final passage explains the history, legality, and application of conservation easements for readers unfamihar with this mechanism as well as the relationship of easements to the three approaches. 2.2.1. Conservation by Nature-Ethics A primary distinction among conservation approaches rests upon whether one considers the world to be biocehtric or anthropocentric. A nature^ethic, as exemplified by writers such as Wendell Berry in A Defense of the Family Farm, and Arne Naess the founder of the Deep Ecology movement, places humans in a lesser position in the order of things in a biocentric world. Deep Ecology awards rights to wildlife and nature, organic and even inorganic, thus blurring the distinction between biotic and geologic systems. The nature-ethic continuum runs from the extremes of rejecting the notion of private property and/or the ethics of meat consumption to more moderate arguments for society to better respect ecosystems. Utilitarian arguments for Umiting our consumption to the sustainable Umits of natural production, phrased as "living off the interest of nature,"45 are based in nature-ethics. By way of an example in this thesis context, consider the arguments of Jeremy Rifkin, who begins his critique by excoriating the entire history of ranching culture and meat production for its "masculine" aggressive domination of nature and the bovine.46 23 2.2.2. Conservation by Capitalism While a market-based approach to conservation does not preclude a biocentric view of the world, it does take a less benevolent view of people in their environs by assuming that we are a kind of "self-interested utility maximizer." This approach presumes humanity will riot transform its lifestyle into a more sustainable one without adopting major economic adjustments first. Again, there is a continuum of theories from those put forth by extreme proponents of privatization like Ridley and Low in "Can Selfishness Save the Planet?" and Walter Block's "Environmental Problems, Private Property Solutions" to moderates such as Paul Hawken. In The Ecology of Commerce, Hawken calls for more corporate responsibility and makes convincing arguments for the capacity of present market systems to effect change by making prices reflect a broader definition of "costs."47 Theories dedicated to nraximum privatization of public goods typically also promote minimization of the government body and the deregulation of trade, environmental protection, and industry practices. Alternatively, Hawken argues for full fare accounting of common goods, externalities, the elimination of all hidden subsidies, and the empowerment of government. An example of this in the thesis context might be agricultural fertilizers and herbicides: the prices of all chemical goods must not only account for production and supply costs, but also their pollution-sink costs to our environment. If Hawken defines government as a kind of "market referee," then Block, Ridley, and Low minimize government's role to that of "market facilitator." Full-fare pricing and accounting for public goods are problematic but critical components of sustainable agriculture or ranching. What is best for an individual is often not the best for a society: individual hunters maximize their benefit by way of game that thrived at the expense of agricultural operations and in turn consumer food dollars. The weakness of a market approach to conservation were explored some 30 years ago in the writings of Alfred Kahn and Garrett Hardin.43 In "The Tyranny of Small Decisions," Kahn argues that it is impossible for any market to completely and accurately account for common goods or full fare pricing for three key reasons. First, consumers can never secure full or "perfect knowledge" of market information. Then, they must make too many small daily individual transactions that, 24 in sum total, subvert the possibility of a market that truly represents the larger result; one which they would not have supported were they given an opportunity to explicitly vote for or against.49 Put simply, the sum of small decisions adds up to give inaccurate market feedback information. Third, too often monopoly elements excessively narrow consumers' choices and complicate purchasing equations; for example, the unavailability of organic beef in sparsely populated areas might require excessive transportation costs that potentially eliminate environmental benefits if all externalities attempt to be accounted for. Hardin takes this critique further and comments upon the impossibility of the relative market valuation of incommensurable goods. For instance, an individual's valuation of the mere knowledge that there is wilderness and habitat being conserved on ranch land must somehow be measured relative to another's willingness to pay more for beef.50 Hardin's classic essay poses the dilemma in game theory (otherwise known as the Prisoner's Dilemma): we are inherently self-interested maximizers of the common goods like air, water, nature, that are impossible to contain or assign accurate economic values. We cannot forego an opportunity for gain, because someone else may gain if we do not. Hawken acknowledges this dilemma and applies full fare pricing across the board. The debate is ongoing. In terms of market suasion over conservation on property, Elizabeth Brubaker's Property Rights in Defense of Nature outlines a non regulatory approach to conservation that is highly critical of the Canadian governments' history of cornrnitment to and capacity for environmental protection. She proposes that environmental costs - thereby quasi-rriarket values - be established in courtrooms through common law remedies and liability awards. Although the numerous cases Brubaker cites champion this approach, its disadvantages are never mentioned or addressed. The legislative system would require substantial changes as presently, government statutes legally override common laws and market systems. In Canada, both the high proportion of lands held by the Crown and the Constitutional constraints and obligations of provincial and federal governments impede the viability of litigation-based conservation. Furthermore, court remedies are more available to those who can afford the time and expense of protecting their interests. There are more ephemeral, pervasive, non-point chemical threats to humans and nature in the greater environment and not just on private 25 property. Increasingly, nontraditional types of pollution that may not be feasibly litigated on an individual basis have an unknown impact on the environment.51 Finally, in terms of economic efficacy this approach still assumes that public revenue will pay for an expanded court system and the enforcement of court decisions. 2.2.3. Conservation by Regulation Few can present a credible case for outright elimination of regulation. Discussions regarding conservation tend to revolve more around the extent and balance of regulations versus societal and individual rights. Conservation by regulation means an increased role for governments. Though this approach is really a part of all the other approaches, its proponents argue that appropriate "across the board" regulation is necessary to protect common interests and access the technical expertise necessary in our complex environment. The success of conservation regulation depends for the most part on political will and public support for political will. The greatest obstacles to regulatory conservation are the lack of adequate staff, empowered enforcement officers, the legal cost of pursing offenders, and the consequent disregard for established regulations. Examples of regulatory approaches in the thesis context are numerous, from beef production or public health minimum standards and tariff policies to complex tax incentives or disincentives for conservation on private property. There is a wealth of approaches from other nations that can inform our system.52 Germany, for instance, has proposed a relatively simple progressive taxation system that is indexed to livestock concentration in an effort to encourage more ethical, conservation-oriented production practices - and less bacteria in German groundwater.53 Similar to market-based conservation, regulatory measures assume increased consumer awareness and willingness to pay (in this case from the government purse instead of an individual's) for more sustainable practices. The major ideological distinction between these two approaches is that where market control defines land as a commodity, regulatory control holds land to be a resource. 26 2.2.4. Conservation by Easements The conservation easement, a relatively recent legal instrument for conservation on private land, is an ideological hybrid of the previously outlined approaches which also transcends some of their constraints. Before describing how the conservation easement relates to the approaches, some background and explanation of its mechanics follows. Conceptually, conservation easements evolved from common law property easements. Here, the easement holder was no longer an individual; instead, the public or common good became a kind of abstract "holder." In principle, conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements attached to private land titles assigned for the purposes of conserving scenic views, natural features, historic structures, agricultural use, habitat, flora, and so forth on all or part of a parcel of land. In effect, they eliminate or restrict some portion of the bundle of property rights legally attached to a land title, be it subdivision, development, or use. Conservation easements may also be proactive, obliging specific management practices, conservation efforts, and so forth.54 They are typically granted in perpetuity or for long terms especially where the "grantor" or the landowner, seeks tax deductions for the donation of the easement. Though conservation easements, like leases, can be bought and sold, more often they are donated. Conservation easements bind subsequent landowners and ensure future protection for the site or attributes on the site. The required qualifications of a conservation easement "grantee" (that is, the purchaser, holder, and administrator of the easement) vary with jurisdiction. Historically, only government agencies could hold conservation easements in Alberta. Recent changes enabled private non-profits with the appropriate qualifications to become grantees and administrators as well.55 The grantee participates in the Original design and negotiation of each easement and - where a grantor proves legally delinquent - in litigation to enforce compliance as per the terms of the easement. The voluntary, individual, flexible nature and potential tax incentives of conservation easements make them a popular and inexpensive approach to conservation on private land in the USA. Difficulties in actually realizing tax deductions from Revenue Canada have been the subject of concern as a network of tax laws make for a more complex situation in Canada.56 27 Conservation easements, first applied some thirty years ago in the US, are being more frequently looked to for all kinds of private land conservation including ranch' land in Texas, Colorado, Montana, and other states along the Rockies. In Canada every province now has some degree of conservation easement enabling legislation.57 Conservation easement legislation was enacted in Alberta through a 1996 amendment to Section 22 of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Alberta's laws require ministerial consultation and approval for a conservation easement. Municipal governments do not need to be consulted but must be notified of the application. A special feature of Alberta legislation is the provision for easement termination by government should some major unanticipated future circumstance of the public's interest come to pass.58 The Province, a municipality, or agencies thereof, and nonprofit bodies corporate with a relevant mandate can act as grantees of conservation easements in Alberta. To date, Ducks Unlimited has successfully applied a substantial number of conservation mechanisms, including easements, on private lands in Alberta, but few range lands have been protected.59 As a conservation approach, the conservation easement is highly workable and resilient. Though it relates to aspects of the previously described approaches, it does not share many of their disadvantages. First, in respect to ethics centred around nature: although conservation easements should not be necessary in an ecologically ordered society, they are nonetheless a step towards conservation of natural systems. Landowners who share environmental concerns but perhaps not an entire biocentric philosophy with ecologists will still apply easements. The literature reviewed roundly confirmed that owners, with strong economic interests in land, do not consider applying easements (i.e. for a tax deduction). Conservation easements contradict normative capitalist ideology. Second, though conservation easements do not make "sense" for utilitarian game theory as put forth by Hardin or Kahn, they do respect market suasion by acknowledging that externalities and common goods are worthy of donation, public recognition, and monetary compensation. For example, a rancher may see fit to protect his/her future interests by not overgrazing private ranges, all the while neglecting to care for riparian areas and the quality of water flowing through lands. The donation of a conservation easement that sets out 28 obligations exceeding regulatory provisions and owners' self-interests, is a step toward recognizing the nebulous value of common goods. Easements have demonstrated that they can avoid the expensive judicial or governmental procedures proposed by Brubaker's common law remedies. They also avoid the need to appraise a market value for each complex "small decision," all the while raising overall conservation standards. Third, regulatory conservation and easements have a curious relationship. They are a kind of delegation of regulatory authority that looks to several co-optive methods to ensure adherence to easement terms, not courtroom remedies. Where high environmental regulations already exist, there is less justification for easements; for example, consider a small island in the Juan de Fuca Strait where the Islands Trust has already applied a ban on new development. The "market value" of conservation is virtually erased in a Utopian world ruled by a pervasive nature-ethic; hypothetically, conservation easements are not required. By contrast, where private land has sweeping development potential, few regulatory constraints, and prime habitat, easements become more valuable. Unprotected land under significant development pressure, adjacent to a national park is a prime case for easement application. Several criticisms of conservation easements have also been put forth and many of them are being addressed with clearer legislation and increased numbers of precedents and landowner familiarity. Criticisms of conservation easements include: they are confusing to landowners; expensive in respect to legal fees; difficult to enforce; and still unproven in the Canadian context.60 Yet groups such as Ducks Unlimited have successfully established easements in Canada and continue to set precedents while increasing public awareness. Other conservation groups like the Nature Conservancy of Canada are working to eliminate these disadvantages and shadow the success of Ducks Unlimited. 29 2.3. Sustainable Ranching The cattle industry and beef consumption are the focus of two passionate adversarial lobbies. While the dynamics of this conflict are beyond the scope of this thesis, they will be briefly introduced to provide a context for the best practices of ranching which follow in the second subsection. These practices, phrased here as "sustainable ranching," are described and defined so they may serve as a frame of reference for ranching, conservation, and land use goals in the case study. This section ends with some comments about the economic viability and export opportunities of sustainable ranching and its relationship to conservation easements. 2.3.1. "Sustainable Ranching" is Not an Oxymoron Consumers' preferences and their food dollars are the targets of intense competing promotions. On the one side, cattle industry proponents, such as the Beef Information Centre, form lobby and public relations organizations to counter environmental and public health promotions. Beef Information Centre propaganda criticizes the concept of organic beef and defends pharmaceutical use for accelerated beef production.61 More mainstream industry proponents include Garry Fairbairn's, Canada Choice, a defense and celebration of Canada's beef industry and, less explicitly, the inherent meat and dairy biases of past versions of the Canada Food Guide.*2 With the support of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Fairbairn devotes an entire section of Will the Bounty End? to discrediting organic production.63 On the other side, groups such as "Earthsave" and literature such as Jeremy Rifkin's Beyond Beef, John Robbins' Diet for a New America, and Fox and Wiswall's The Hidden Costs of Beef, confront cattle industry practices, ethics, and their environmental record.64 Each side uses science and statistics to support their arguments. In the chapters "Human Nutrition" and "Consumer Safety" of Canada Choice, Fairbaim offers statistics to discredit any relationship between increased heart disease and beef consumption, the threat of antibiotics and hormones in feed, and so forth.65 Meanwhile, Earthsave's 1992 publication, 30 "The Realities of an Animal-Based Diet," cites a 46% increase in the chance of a heart attack, 3% for cancer, and refutes Fairbairn's arguments for human protein requirements and the necessity of cattle for range ecosystems.66 These arguments revolve around different issues from very different views of the world. The polar ethics of animal rights and animal welfare do not entirely overlap. An animal rights advocate who is ethically opposed to meat consumption and perhaps even animal domestication cannot accommodate the very concept of ranching, regardless of whether it was sustainable. Comparatively moderate arguments based on animal welfare issues, do provide a window of opportunity to support more responsible ranching practices. The thesis of Rifkin's Beyond Beef is that the livestock agri-industry has severed the consumer's connection to the source of their nourishment: the cow as a sentient being has been transformed into a resource; resources are then abstracted on commodity markets; and finally, commodities become food products on consumer's tables.67 This process relieves consumers of the responsibility for awareness of industry practices, the environmental consequences of ranching, and sets into motion Kahn's "Tyranny of Small Decisions" that underwrite market imperfections. If one accepts this need to rejoin the decorated burgers of a fast-food culture and the bovine, then consumer awareness of the impact of cattle on rangeland is a necessary component of this re-renewed connection. Consumers need to become at least minimally aware of cattle industry practices and inputs such as growth stimulants, hormones, and manure handling practices as well as the greater critical issues of animal handling, animal welfare, and the externalities of range management and habitat conservation. Ultimately, in an increasingly market-oriented industry wherein consumers vote with their food dollars, sustainable ranching offers an opportunity for public education.68 Trade publications on beef production acknowledge a link between consumption decline and environmental and health awareness, but do not address it beyond stating that it is fundamental to "hold onto their market share."69 A precursory review of economic literature revealed only passing reference, if any, to environmental and sustainable beef issues. 31 Basic concerns such as manure handling or intensive ranching and cattle health are not mentioned in trade literature. Clearly, an impetus for change w i l l not begin wi th trade or industry organizations. Anti-beef promotions are responsible, if only in part, for decreased North American beef consumption which has in turn helped drive cattle prices down. A s prices decrease, improved ranching practices are not apt to increase. Range environment and the wildlife habitat on that range may come under more pressure via increased cattle density. In the case of concentrated or "factory-farm," the effect of decreased prices can be even more severe, increasing the gap between best and actual practices of ranching. 2.3.2. Principles of Ranching Sustainably Conceptually set within the framework of sustainable agriculture, sustainable ranching looks to the long term health and welfare of cattle, their environmental setting, the external impacts of ranching, and the economic viability of operating. A s a part of planning for sustainability, sustainable ranching requires municipal planning policies that w i l l support -not undermine - the potential of its realization. Aspects of sustainable ranching have also been presented as holistic ranching and organic farming. Locally, sustainable ranching could work to enhance the network of resources and diversify the economy, mcluding guest ranches, wildlife viewing, and improved fishing or hunting opportunities. Precedents for sustainable ranching can be found in the case study area at the Stillridge and Ketaorati Ranches; elsewhere in Canada, the Simpson Ranch by Cochrane and the Highbrae Ranch i n Ontario; and in the U S A , where the Oregon Organic Beef Cooperative jointly markets products. Organic beef production, as defined by the Canadian Organic Growers, is a subset of sustainable ranching. 7 0 Organic production in Canada is presently overseen by forty-two separate local certification boards which share resources and marketing. This ad hoc system means no strong unified presence for alternative products exists. Unfortunately, this system also adds to administrative overhead and increases the price of organic goods. To meet organic standards, feed must not contain chemicals such as: growth stimulants; hormones; 32 herbicides; fertilizers; animal wastes; mineral supplements composed of animal bone meal; and weight increasing agents such as cement. If an animal is ill, drugs such as antibiotics can be administered provided doses are minimal. Organic certification requirements also cite ethical and animal welfare issues, including: daylight, range access, animal husbandry, and cattle density. Certification does not oblige any considerations of important externalities such as habitat and riparian zone protection or agricultural land preservation. Currently in Canada, there is no one federal or provincial organic standard, though efforts to establish one are ongoing.71 Beyond minimal legal industry standards, Agriculture Canada publishes a Recommended Code of Practice which contains practical recommendations such as: protect calving areas during inclimate weather; avoid cattle feed additives that are not government approved; and monitor pasture for poisonous plants.72 There are no references in this code to environmental issues, genetic manipulation, and cattle density or their freedom to move. Neither legal standards or the recommended code of practice can ensure future biodiversity and protection from bovine spongeform encephalopathy, nor can these standards convincingly refute the animal welfare critique. Optimal animal handling that is humane and animal husbandry practices that stress biodiversity are key to sustainable ranching. Since these are less related to habitat conservation and rural municipal planning, they will be touched upon only briefly. Sustainable ranching encourages biodiversity, careful breeding and proven humane practices. At the same time, it prohibits most types of animal mutilation, genetic tampering, forced early calf weaning (prior to six months of age), stressful abattoir conditions, and so on.7 3 Range cattle are less accustomed to handling than cattle from intensive operations, so transport and slaughter has proven to be potentially far more distressing for them. Numerous studies, in particular the work of Temple Grandin, have shown that handling, transport, and slaughter of cattle can be accomplished without the use of an electric prod and with rnmimal or "no signs of agitation and stress."74 Grandin combines ethical, market, and medical arguments to show that conscientious gentle handling results in little or no Cortisol,75 a stress hormone released in an animal's 33 circulatory system. Less bruising through gentle handling means a longer shelf life for meats and higher profits for better quality beef and leather. Her studies have identified cattle sensitivity to high-pitched machinery noise, inaudible to plant workers, as well as the following problems: slippery concrete floors, sudden shadows, pen and race design, and finally, the scent of a trace pheromone released through blood that alerts approaching cattle to the mental state of prior slaughtered animals.76 Humane cattle transport is critical, particularly in terms of duration of trip as slaughter operations concentrate in larger centralized plants. The market system needs to provide greater accountability or increased regulation of industry conscientiousness and care. Better ways to handle cattle are known but not followed; sustainable ranching should illustrate these principles in practice. Careful range management is a another critical issue for ranching to be sustainable.77 The following points are intended to be illustrative rather than comprehensive. First, range management must protect from over-grazing by ensuring that at least 50% of forage remains for regeneration. Once overgrazed, native ranges take a full one to two years of rest to recover. This results in increased grazing pressure elsewhere or the added expense of purchased feed. Increased cover and shade, where soil-specific conditions allow, should be encouraged through reduced grazing to facilitate wildlife habitat. Next, native grasses should be maintained - through minimal or no till cultivation in order to prevent topsoil erosion -whenever possible.78 Native prairie grasses are more sensitive to spring grazing and vulnerable to "invader" species if overgrazed. These grasses are also more nutritious, biologically diverse, and resilient to winter; consequently, over the long term they can prove more advantageous for ranching. Third, even livestock distribution should be encouraged through the location of salt licks and mobile solar powered, pump-supplied water sources. These should be kept well away from fragile rangelands which can be fenced or otherwise protected. Fourth, where prairie grasslands have evolved to be grazed intensively for short intervals and require manure fertilizing and "urine fixing," cattle ranges should be rested and rotated frequently to approximate a natural cycle.79 Finally, designated and controlled water crossings where cattle hooves do minimal damage to stream beds or, in the case of stilt beds, proper liners and larger aggregate gravel should be a part of range management. 34 Sustainable ranching means practicing closed circuit or a rnirdmurn resource-input system to the greatest extent possible. It aspires to manage through mitigation. For instance, ranchers could encourage natural predators to check pest populations. Providing raptor nests to facilitate increased raptor populations for gopher control is preferable to more aggressive chemical means of controlling pest populations.80 Where soil requires nitrogen-fixing, alfalfa or other fixers can be used instead of petrochemical fertilizers. Given the threat of large predators, ranchers can mitigate cattle loss through surveillance or simply keeping calves away from isolated ranges. While these are all important, they pale in relevance compared to the key ranch management issue. Manure handling is the most critical issue for any kind of ranching operation. A 1998 joint federal-provincial review of Alberta groundwater found that fecal coliform bacteria from agriculture sources exceeded health guidelines, particularly in southern Alberta, and may be linked to the high rates of gastrointestinal ailments among rural populations. Unfortunately, a safe regime of manure rotation for full composting and then spreading in smaller amounts at more frequent intervals is both more labour intensive and expensive. Feedlot manure handling is a more difficult problem owing to vast, unmanageable stockpiles of manure accumulating at one source. The disaster of May, 1998, when a publicly traded intensive cattle operation, Western Feedlots, was charged and fined over one million dollars after it intentionally released over thirty million litres of cattle manure into a stream feeding the Bow River was at once a liability for the entire Alberta cattle industry and a signal for more responsible ranching.81 Efforts to distribute manure to fanning operations for use as fertilizer are economically frustrated by the shear bulk and transport inefficacy of manure as well as the labour intensive difficulties of properly spreading it. A cost/benefit study of manure fertilizer transport in Alberta has found that distances of more than eighteen km cease to be cost effective compared to chemical fertilization.82 The Lethbridge Research Centre is currently looking for methods to render manure compost lighter and concentrated to facilitate transport efficiencies. Since manure turns from liquid gold to poison when handled improperly, sustainable ranching operations must address its handling. Last, sustainable ranching must be economically viable; in other words, a critical mass 35 of consumers must have some awareness of the issues alongside a willingness to pay more for beef. This economic connection may actualize and rejoin the ethics and environmental impacts of cattle ranching to products in consumers' refrigerators. Although sustainable ranching benefits those with vested interests in the ranching region, it may be distant export markets that increase its economic viability. Japan, parts of the USA, and Europe -particularly England and Germany where the public has a high awareness of the ethical and environmental issues of meat consumption, - provide markets for higher quality, sustainably produced beef.83 Since the European Economic Community (EEC) ban on import beef produced with hormone growth stimulants (a practice prohibited in Europe) Canadian producers and exporters have ignored this market. International pressure from distant consumers for better forestry industry practices on the part of Canadian producers can be one precedent for stimulating changes in world beef production. According to Grandin, Europe and particularly Northern European countries, have better, more humane animal handling practices than North America.84 Nevertheless, as EEC trade negotiations for livestock handling standards progressed they failed to adopt high industry standards as enforceable regulations. Instead, a compromise requiring full disclosure on product labels was implemented;85 for example, eggs from battery chickens are obliged to be labelled as such.86 In North America where organic and free range products must promote and identify themselves, the philosophy of labelling is reversed. Adopting Europe's labelling regulations would be an inexpensive, though bitterly controversial, first step towards encouraging sustainable ranching. Grading and labelling of beef comprises a major part of current trade negotiations as Canada and USA systems differ, resulting in Canadian beef exports being labelled as "ungraded" on US consumer shelves. Compared to half of world beef production - where intensive ranching mean that foot-and-mouth disease and/or blue tongue disease is endemic - Canadian beef production though meager (less than 2% of the world total87) is renowned for disease free herds, lean quality, and grass-feed flavour. The 1993 Canadian International Trade Tribunal inquiry into cattle and beef competitiveness cited these qualities as the major Canadian advantage and called for more recognition of quality - not strictly price competitiveness. The C A A and other industry 36 groups support more grading and labelling at the retail counter, at home and abroad, even while they protest organic certification and sustainable ranching. In closing, though hogs, chicken, sheep and other livestock operations share many ethical, health, and environmental issues as cattle ranching, they are less directly linked to the conservation of habitat and extensive rural land use planning. Sustainable ranching shares more links with the principles of conservation easements. Conservation easements help to underwrite some of the economic costs of sustainable ranching and can serve to promote its products. They also help to offset unavoidable market imperfections and the tyrannies of daily consumer choices that elude the best environmental market mechanisms. Finally, conservation easements anticipate that the current Alberta trend towards industry self-regulation and market liberalization will continue. Due to an absence of budgets and the staff to enforce regulations, regulatory approaches to conservation and best ranching practices are increasingly unlikely in Alberta. In fact, if ranching operations and rangeland practices deteriorate, the need for, and support of, conservation easements and sustainable ranching will increase. 3 7 Chapter 2: Footnotes 1 Douglas, 1989: p. 3. 2 Hilts and Fitzgibbon, 1989: p. 19. 3 Ibid., p. 19 - 21. 4 Hodge, 1993: p. 4 and 23 - 28; Hodge, 1987: p. 17. 5 Sandberg, Personal Communication. Note that, though membership is optional, all of Alberta's rural local governments do belong to the AAMDC. 6 Hilts and Fitzgibbon, 1989: p. 19 - 27. 7 See the Senate of Canada's 1984 publication Soils at Risk: Canada's Eroding Future. 8 ICURR is the Intergovernmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research. 9 Perks, 1996: p. 91 - 98. 10Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993. 11 Young and Charland, 1991: p. 1 - 8. 1 2 Rasker, 1992 and 1993. Hodge (1993) found that 25% of the Canadian communities he surveyed actively encouraged seniors to relocate to their jurisdiction. 1 3 Rasker, 1993. 1 4 Higgs, 1989: p. 15 - 18. 1 5 Lethbridge Research Centre, 1998; Daly and Cobb, 1994; Hilts and Fuller, 1990; and Senate of Canada, 1984. 1 6 Daly and Cobb, 1994: p. 272. 1 7 Biogenetic advances in agricultural inputs, technology, and the subsequent global increases in yields of the past one and a half decades have come to be referred to as the "Green Revolution." 1 8 See Brewster Kneen's 1997 book, The Invisible Giant, for an account of the extent of Cargill's operations and subsidiaries. One of Canada's largest abattoirs and beef processing plants, located in High River adjacent to the MD of Pincher Creek, is owned and operated by Cargill. 19For a full outline of the Monsanto Corporation's argument for overproduction, see Schneiderman, Howard and Will Carpenter (1990) in "Sustainability: An Opportunity for Leadership." 2 0 Hawken, 1994. 2 1 Breen, 1983; Owram, 1980; and Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 1892. 2 2 Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 1892. ^Francis and Palmer, 1992: p. 451 - 496. 2 4 Ibid., p. 451. 2 5 Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, 1997: p. xii. 2 6 Ibid., p. x. 38 2 7 See Artibise and Stelter (1981), for an historical account on the work of the Commission of Conservation in relation to planning. 2 8 White, 1919: p. 11 and 19. 2 9 See MacPherson and Thompson's "The Business of Agriculture" in The Prairie West, for a discussion of the persistence of draught animal use and delay in mechanization on prairie farms. 3 0 Rees (1979) "The Canada Land Inventory" in Perks and Robinson, 1979: p. 159 - 169. 3 1 See the Alberta Land Use Forum (1976) Report and Recommendations for a 300 page summary of their work. ^ h i s phrase was also the subtitle of Down to Earth, by Carole Giangrande, an agricultural commentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. ^For several years in the early 1990s, buffalo ranching was amongst the fastest growing agricultural sectors in Alberta. 3 4 Although various government documents refer to these cut-backs, precise annual government figures are not published in agricultural summaries. 3 5 Minister for Municipal Affairs, Insight Conference, Edmonton, Nov. 10,1995. 3 3 Municipalities with less than 3500 constituents have the option of adopting a Municipal Development Plan. The MD of Pincher Creek, with a population below 3500, has opted to prepare a development plan. 3 7 Rural municipalities were affected by the 1995 MGA to a much greater extent than urban ones which relied less on regional commissions and the Province for fulfilling municipal obligations. 3 8 Bill Nugent, personal communication; and Nugent, 1995. 3 9 Laux, F. in Insight Conference Proceedings, 1995: p.2. ""Larke "Development Under the New Regime: the Developer's Perspective," in Insight Conference Proceedings, 1995: p. 1 - 7. 4 1 Graham, Douglas, "Changing Environmental Responsibilities of Municipalities," Ibid., p. 14. "^ Thomas, Gerald, Director of Legislation and Planning Projects, Local Government Services, presented the new policies at the MGA Insight Conference. See Appendix B Alberta Provincial land Use Policies 4 3 B. Symonds, co-author of the Provincial Land Use Policies, personal communication. 4 4 A. Colley, MD of Pincher Creek Planner, personal communication. 4 5 Daly and Cobb, 1994. ^Rifkin (1992) traces the history of cattle domestication and slaughter from sacred ritual roots to today's industry practices in the first part of Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of Cattle Culture. 4 7 Ridley and Low, 1993: p. 76 - 86; Block, W., 1996; p. 281 - 331; and Hawken, 1994. 4 8 Hardin ,1968: p. 1243 - 1248; and Kahn, 1966: p. 23 - 47. 39 4 9 Kahn, 1966: p. 45 - 46. ^Hardin, 1968: p. 1245. Hardin explicitly refers to the example of US cattlemen overgrazing "commons," federal rangelands, by individually increasing herd counts beyond sustainable limits. 5 1 D. Loukidelis, personal communication. 5 2 This is useful because any new or revised regulations affecting exports/imports are rigorously scrutinized in light of international trade agreements, subsidies, and relative competitiveness. 5 3 Hofreither and Vogel, 1995: P. 129 - 131. Germany has a relatively high percentage, 24%, of people who do not support any form of intensive farming. These recent regulatory initiatives are, in part, a result of increased ground water contamination. 5 4 Conservation easements are similar to restrictive covenants, but they can also be "prescriptive." Prescriptive obligations are always more problematic to enforce. 5 5 Loukidelis, 1992. 5 6 See Attridge's (1997) Conservation Easement Valuation and Taxation in Canada for a full discussion of the current situation. In "Chapter V. Federal Income Tax," Attridge discusses the frustration southern Alberta ranchers have experienced attempting to donate easements. Revenue Canada determined that an easement had no "market" value, thus was not classified as a deductible donation. Worse yet, since land is considered "transferred" when an easement is applied, the landowner would be required to pay full capital gains on the reassessed market value of the land. 5 7 See Trombetti and Cox (1990) and Attridge (1997) for a comparative review of provincial legislation for conservation easements. 5 3 Kwasniak, 1997: p. 9 - 10. See Kwasniak for a concise comprehensive overview of conservation easement law in Alberta. 5 9 Percy, 1993. 6 0 Senate of Canada, p. 70, Table 1. 6 1 Organizations closer to the ranch, like the Western Stock Growers Association or the Canadian Cattlemens Association (CCA), do not confront the vegetarian lobby, reserving their quarrel for environment groups who are considered the source of vegetarian sentiment anyway. Meanwhile, the Beef Information Centre, the public lobbying arm of the CAA, directly tackles more controversial issues such as promoting the safety of hormone and antibiotic use. 6 2 The 1994 version of Health Canada's Canada Food Guide suggests "2-3 daily servings of meat and/or alternates to meat" in an affirmation of vegetarian nutritional choices. 6 3 Fairbairn, 1984; p. 71 - 74.. 40 6 4 Some of these works concentrate exclusively upon beef production, others critique the entire agri-food industry, for example, Diet for a New America (1987). Currently, researcher Joseph Pace of the University of Waterloo is writing Canada's Food for the New Millennium, the Canadian equivalent of Robbins' book. 6 5 Fairbairn, 1989: p. 43 - 74. 6 6 Earthsave, 1992: p. 7 -17. Note that all the research and each statistic in these publications is fully referenced to reputable medical journals, such as Lancet and the American or British Journal of Medicine. 6 7 Rifkin, 1992: p. 272 - 282. 6 3 One beneficial impact of the tragic spread of bovine spongeform encephalopathy (BSE) in England was an increase in organic cattle farms and organic butchers accompanied by a profound increase in consumer awareness and willingness to pay for more responsible practices. See "Farming with Nature: A Solutions Oriented Strategy" in The Mad Cow Crisis: Health and the Public Good edited by Scott Ratzan (1998). 6 9 Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993: p. 157; Lermer and Klein, 1990. 7 0 A detail technical outline of organic requirments is available on the Canadian Organic Growers Advisory Board (COGAB) website: http: www.gks.com/cog/cogab.htm 7 1 In the Spring of 1998, Canada-wide consultation and plebiscites amongst organic interests have attempted to nationalize and legitimize standards for the purpose of increasing market share. 7 2 Agriculture Canada, 1991: p. 2 - 10. 7 3 One commonly accepted practice of cattle mutilation is branding. Recent microchip technology offers an alternate system of cattle identification. 74Grandin,1993:p.291. 7 5 Ibid., p. 290 - 305. The effects of human consumption of Cortisol in beef is highly controversial and the subject of ongoing study. There is consensus that Cortisol release indicates stress, therefore it serves to identify better handling techniques when more visible or audible cues to mishandling such as rearing are difficult to measure and compare. 7 6 Ibid., p. 3, 75, & 292. 7 7 Berg et al, 1995: p. 8 -10. Wildcat Consulting et al, 1994. 7 8 Senate of Canada, 1984. The Soils at Risk report highlighted the urgent need to address cultivation practices throughout Canadian agriculture and not just ranching. 7 9 Popper (1991) in Nikiforuk's "Buffalo Commons." Berg et al, 1995: p. 7. 8 0 Wildcat Consulting and Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, 1994: p. 32 on. This document provides the Simpson Ranch with a conservation strategy complete with design drawings of human-made raptors' nests and localized range analysis. 41 Nikiforuk, Andrew reporting in Globe and Mail, May 7, 1998. 1 See the work of D.F. Chevalier, "Systems for Efficient and Safe Utilization of Agricultural and Municipal Organic By-Products" on the Lethbridge Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, website: http: //res.agr.ca/leth/. 1 Japan, second to the US for Alberta beef exports, consumes a small but growing portion of provincial beef production. (Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, 1998: p. 146) Taiwan and Korean had been looked to as potential markets (Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993) until the recent economic downturn. EEC protectionism poses a significant obstacle to increased beef exports, niche markets for specialty organic beef products may be viable. 1 Grandin, 1993: p. 2. "Loeper, ed., "The Struggle Against Cruel Intensive Animal Management Systems in the European Community Seen from a Legal Point of View," 1987: p. 155. ' Switzerland, not a part of the EEC, bans battery chicken farms. Swiss beef production must meet similar, higher standards, yet it still has been troubled by Continental Europe's highest incidence of BSE (Ratzan, 1998: p. 50). Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993: p. 44. Note that the world beef trade is divided in to two groups, one where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic which includes Europe, Russia, and most of South America and Africa, and one free of the disease, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Southeast Asia. 42 Chapter 3: Profile of Pincher Creek, Alberta Illustration 3: Wind Turbines on Pincher Creek Ranges Source: Author No winter need be feared, however severe that may be at times, if those with stock will only take the ordinary precaution . . . . With regard to ranching, by which I mean running herds of horses and cattle at large on leased lands, this will always be a success and a means of making money . . . F. DeWinton of Alberta Ranche, Pincher Creek Testimonial of December 18, 1887, published in Guide to Settlers, 1888 43 This chapter provides background for readers who are unfamiliar with Pincher Creek, Alberta. An overview of the local environment, then the socio-political context, and last, an economic profile. Although its topography, history, and climate distinguish this corner of Alberta, images of the Pincher Creek region - with the Rockies as a backdrop to golden fields, ranches, and pump jacks - often represent the entire province. 3.1. Ecological Context 3.1.1. Climate The Pincher Creek region receives the highest precipitation and strongest winds in Alberta. Precipitation rates in the form of rain and snow fall any given month of the year and are known to fluctuate year to year as well as within annual cycles. Summers are cool and winters are warm compared to the rest of south-central Alberta. Mean daily temperatures recorded at the hamlet of Beaver Mines vary from a low of -9.1Q C in January to a high of 15.5Q C in July. However, for eight months of the year the range of recorded temperature extremes, from high to low, spans well over 50Q C. 1 Local microclimatic conditions vary significantly over short distances with wind exposure, elevation, and soil and vegetation conditions.2 Alternative energy companies such as Windcorp, Suncor, and Vision Quest have strategically located wind-powered turbines in pilot projects, tapping local wind energy. Warm winter winds, chinooks, evaporate prairie surface snow and keep ranges clear through much of the winter thereby minimizing requirements for supplemental cattle feed and shelter. Chinooks are also critical for wildlife, particularly ungulates, that overwinter, calve, and feed in this area. Climate has played a key role in Pincher Creek area history. An unusual extended period of warm wet weather from 1896 to 1906 encouraged an aggressive settlement program which ended in calamity when a combination of dry summers and severe winters bankrupted homesteaders decades before the 1930s Dust-bowl.3 Homesteaders had claimed the vast tracts of land that were originally leased to the large ranching corporations which, by 1906, were themselves reduced to small economically unviable operations.4 4 4 The role that climate may play in the future of the Pincher Creek settlement remains to be seen. Chinooks work in favour of ranching interests by limiting the development of winter sports or recreation that rely upon snow and cool, wet summers dissuade some golf and cottage interests, who might otherwise be drawn to this visually spectacular region. New acreage developers may not fully appreciate the discomfort caused by persistent winds on exposed sites over the long term. The Town of Pincher Creek and most existing residences are situated in coulees, trading views for protection from winds. 3.1.2. Biodiversity This region contains the narrowest section of the Rocky Mountain Range. Here, front range canyons are compressed along the mountains, interior prairies halt abruptly at the Western Cordillera, and steep gradients compress five ecological regions with complex habitat transitions into a relatively small, biologically diverse area.5 Unique, variable rrucroclimates have fostered a fragile ecosystem; one that celebrates the highest biodiversity in Alberta, three times that of Banff National Park.6 This is also the only region of Alberta where agricultural operations on lands, held in fee-simple or by lease, are directly along the Rockies. Elsewhere, Crown held foothills provide a buffer zone to minimize conflicts between activities on private property and mountain wildlife.7 The M D of Pincher Creek contains the headwaters of twenty-four rivers and streams. Since these watercourses have highly variable seasonal flow rates and high user demands, conserving threatened fish species such as bull and cutthroat trout have become critical issues. The West Castle River Valley, on M D Crown land, is one of only three Rocky Mountain valleys connecting species in Canada and the United States. Local watershed topography enriches biodiversity via pockets of habitat at accessible water sources. Unfortunately it also facilitates subdivision by fragmenting the agricultural land grid and permits destruction of riparian zones and stream beds by cattle. Finally, randung operations also benefit from ample surface water sources and sheltered zones for cattle during inclement weather. Well over half the M D falls within the scope of a major conservation initiative, 45 established to protect biodiversity on a continental scale: Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y). Of the nine state or provincial jurisdictions that overlap the greater Y2Y bioregion, Alberta includes only 6% of the area but contains the highest intensity and portion of livestock, 77%,8 and the greatest density of linear disturbances to watersheds and lands.9 Linear disturbances include roads, trails, or seismic lines. Provincially, along the Y2Y corridor a mean disturbance density of 2.7 km/km 2 varies to a localized maximum in excess of 8.0 km/km 2 in southwest Alberta.10 This is the result of a century of resource exploration, extraction, harvesting, and recreation. Although some of this damage is on provincial land, beyond the jurisdiction of local planning, municipal land use policies still remain key to protecting biodiversity as outlined by Y2Y partners. Since Pincher Creek ranch lands overlap with this wildlife genetic and migratory "bottleneck," land use practices and municipal policies are key to biodiversity. Increased development along the Crowsnest River in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and the M D of Pincher Creek exacerbate barriers to wildlife migration and biodiversity. 46 3.1.3. Wildlife The greatest diversity of mammal, raptor, fish and other species - including cougar, lynx, wolverine, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep - that inhabit the Pincher Creek region live in or along the mountains.11 The health and population numbers of grizzlies and wolves have been considered indicative of the state of natural ecosystems: large carnivores become a kind of environmental indicator. By comparison, ungulates are generally less sensitive to human disturbances but pose a greater concern for ranchers trying to maximize cattle forage. Five wildlife categories have been selected for brief profiles as they are the subject of concern and are more directly affected by land uses. These profiles serve to describe the case study and are by no means comprehensive. They have been compiled and cross referenced from various sources, including: the Alberta Environment Protection and Natural Resources; Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC); Natural Resource Conservation Board, 1993; HBT AGRA, 1992; and recent volumes of Wildlife Management Plans. These documents should be consulted for a fuller understanding of Pincher Creek biodiversity.12 3.13.1. White-Tailed & Mule Deer White-tailed deer are Alberta resident hunters' second most sought after big game species13 and one of the few species known to have increased in number since colonial incursion. Wildlife Management Units (WMU) in the M D of Pincher Creek contain Alberta's highest deer concentrations, over fifteen deer per 10 km 2 on ranch lands. Populations on adjacent Castle Crown lands vary from only 1.6 to five deer per 10 km 2 depending upon the localized habitat. Locally, their populations are considered stable despite competition with cattle for grazing ranges, increased development, and hunting pressure that is classified as "very high" by Alberta Environment Protection. Quotas for the 1998 season have substantially increased due to the previous mild winter and increased populations and range damage. 47 3.13.2. Elk Currently, local populations of elk, estimated to be 850-900 with another 130 in Waterton Lakes National Park, are still recovering from a decline after protection in a Crown game reserve was rescinded in 1950. The local carrying capacity of both summer and winter ranges is thought to be two to four times the current population. Elk are known to habituate readily to human activity, frequent ranch lands, and damage haystacks. While elk serve the interests of wildlife viewing, hunting, and biodiversity, they are less shy than deer and responsible for more damage of ranges; accordingly, they are more readily perceived as pests by ranchers.14 In the event that populations do increase, there is likely to be increased conflict between ranching and elk habitat conservation. Moose Alberta Wildlife estimates the local moose population to be approximately 400, well below carrying capacity, and calls for a 25-30% increase in population. Conservation proponents have criticized this estimate as too high. For the most part, moose inhabit the front ranges, which overlap with some ranches, but they are not cited as a concern in terms of range competition and damage nor do moose readily habituate to human activities. Moose are highly valued by wildlife viewers and - as the most sought after big game species in Alberta -by hunters.15 Conservation and enhancement of moose habitat is key to supporting their recovery, but increased ranching, acreages, resource extraction, or tourism activity will have a negative impact on moose. 3.1.3A. Wolf Historically, resident wolf populations had been virtually extirpated; present populations are considered very low though signs of some activity exist. Alberta law allows unlicensed, unreported, year-round wolf kills by landowners, or their designates, on or within eight km of owned and leased lands. This leaves little room for wolves. Although ranchers' tolerance for wolves has improved with education and with compensation payments for cattle losses,16 further changes in legislation, ranching practices, and attitudes are required if local populations are to recover. Wolves can effectively cull increasing ungulate populations and 4 8 eliminate dependence upon hunters for controlling herds. Grizzly and Black Bear Grizzly population on provincial lands from Waterton to Banff National Parks is estimated to be about ninety, with another twenty to twenty-five in Waterton Lakes National Park. Province-wide estimates vary between 500 to 1000.17 Grizzlies are classified as endangered and declining by environmental groups but unendangered and increasing in the 1997 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations.™ Black bear population is estimated by Environment Protection to be higher, 130 (or one per ten km 2 in area habitat), but declining. Given that southwest Alberta is identified by the Province as the main problem area for bear mortality sinks and human-bear conflicts, increased human incursion and development will serve to exacerbate conflict. Grizzly habitat is considered compromised by Y2Y when a mere 0.8 linear km of disturbance occurs in 10 km2. Given that annual adult male ranges extend to 1500 km 2 (3000 km 2 for multi-year breeding ranges), major efforts to conserve and expand habitat are required to ensure conservation. Though the Pincher Creek region records the second highest number of bear-related complaints and incidents in Alberta,19 surveys indicate that local ranchers' attitudes to bears are increasingly tolerant and not a major problem.20 Rather, increased development, off-road-vehicles (ORVs), and hunters are not only impacting bear populations but are among the greatest source of problems for ranchers 2 1 Illustration 4: Wildlife Grazing on Gladstone Valley Private Land Source: Author 4 9 3.1.4. Environmental Initiatives The greater Pincher Creek region is subject to ongoing environmental controversy and pressure fueled by development and user group interests set against conservation interests. This controversy revolves around resource extraction of gas, minerals, timber, and coal; motorized or consumptive recreational activities such as snovvmiobiling, ORVs, hunting, random camping, downhill skiing, and fishing; non consumptive recreation such as wildlife viewing, hiking, and horseback riding; and finally, ranching. Country residential development is a newer addition to this equation. Numerous non governmental initiatives have coalesced in response to area environmental issues. They vary in scale, from local efforts such as the CCWC, seeking protection for Castle River Crown lands, to the macro-efforts of Y2Y, proposing protection for over one million square kilometres of core and corridor habitat. Conservation initiatives also vary in scope. Specific efforts include the "Defenders of Wildlife" who strive to increase wolf populations and the Elk Foundation of Canada which works with hunters and ranchers to increase elk numbers. Broad based groups such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada or the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) are also active, either by cooperating with the ranching establishment or, as in the case of the latter, by rriamtairring a critical distance. The Nature Conservancy and the Elk Foundation are working with ranchers to establish conservation easements on local rangelands. The Province encourages local conservation through a combination of regulation, mitigation, education, and compensation programs. Forage insurance, administered through Alberta Hail and Crop Insurance Corporation, provides compensation for wildlife incurred damage to rangelands. Between 1980 and 1990 annual payments averaged a mere $122,150 on a value of $209,544 of reported damage. Government also funds compensation programs for cattle losses due to predators; these pay 86% of cost for confirmed kills and 50% for probable losses.22 Regardless of such programs, the majority of losses and damage remain unreported as ranchers are deterred by red-tape or feel that remuneration for losses creates undue obligations towards wildlife conservation.23 Alberta Wildlife supports education and 5 0 mitigation programs in this region, including the "Landowner Habitat Pilot Project" and the "Cows and Fish" program which cooperates with southern Alberta ranches to improve water quality and riparian zones. Another ongoing, highly successful program: Buck for Wildlife, has collected donations and levies from hunting/fishing licenses for habitat protection and rehabilitation projects on Alberta Crown land as well as private land since 1973. These projects include proactive initiatives such as setting out intercept feeding during harsh winters and funding research. Finally, industry organizations have responded with environmental initiatives to defend their own interests. The Western Stock Growers' Association (WSGA) originally evolved from the fledgling Pincher Creek Stock Association in the late 19th century. It was established to defend ranchers' political and economic interests and to administer a bounty to eradicate local predators.24 Today their motto reads: "The voice of free market environmentalists since 1896"; the WSGA is aware of the benefits of rallying alongside public concern for the environment and supporting selected hunter/conservationist groups.25 Likewise at the national scale, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) works in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and alongside the Alberta Cattlemen's Commission with the Cows and Fish project. Still other WSGA initiatives like "Shoot, shovel, and shut up" bitterly denounce environmental and regulatory proposals that may affect property rights or compromise profitability. When these industry organizations appropriate concepts and terms like environmentalist, sustainability, or stewardship they confuse their audience and make it difficult to clearly distinguish committed, conservation-minded ranching from propaganda. Many of these diverse environmental initiatives, programs, and lobbies operate in the greater sphere, well beyond the M D of Pincher Creek, local government and resident ranches; nevertheless, their dynamics, politics, rationalizations, and rhetoric are distilled and reiterated in the local newspaper - the Pincher Creek Echo - and around kitchen tables. 51 3.2. Settlement History 3.2.1. Colonial Settlement Pincher Creek area archeological findings trace native settiement back 11,000 years and Piikani (Peigan) and Kuteneii (Kootenay) peoples' settlement back 2000 years.26 By the 1800s, these lands fell within the ambit of the Blackfoot Confederacy who, hostile to the Hudson's Bay Company, helped delay economic and geographic colonization.27 Concerted European incursions began in the late 1850s with the Palliser and Hind Expeditions. Both men deemed this region a part of the Great American Desert, "unfit in all probability for agriculture" and "not, in its present condition fitted for the permanent habitation of civilized man."2 3 Nonetheless, within one decade of this declaration the first farm, near Waterton River, was established by one "Kootenaii Brown," now a celebrated mythic character.29 The first ranch, supplied by American cattle driven north along the Milk River, followed some five years later. This region came under federal control in 1870, when lands the Hudsons Bay Company had been granted under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 were transferred to the Dominion of Canada. Then, provincial lands and land use remained under federal control for fifty years, until the 1930 Resources Transfer Act, when they were delegated to the Alberta Government. The majority of M D Crown lands had been a part of Waterton Lakes National Park from 1914 to 1921. Owing to a complex web of colonial and national political objectives as well as a perceived threat from American expansionists, the Dominion Government recreated the Prairies as a bountiful paradise. Western expansionism began in earnest: the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) set up at Ft. Mcleod in 1874; treaties were signed with local bands in 1877; reserves were established; and the railway was completed in 1885. The earliest "free-grass" era of local ranching, from 1874 to 1882, comprised of former NWMP officers loosely managing free roaming cattle on local ranges. These herds fed the former and current NWMP and the local native population who were starving after the eradication of buffalo. 52 Once the ease and profitability of ranching along the northwest edge of Pallliser's Triangle had been confirmed, well connected eastern Canadian export interests quickly secured vast tracts of up to 100,000 acres at a lease rate of only one dollar per year for one hundred acres. These leases effectively squeezed out the independent free-grass ranchers.30 Senator Cochrane's renowned Cochrane Ranch also relocated south to the Pincher Creek area in 1883 after severe winters resulted in cattle losses west of Calgary. Until 1905, ten major ranches in southwestern Alberta were managed as highly structured employee/employer corporations from the saddles of comfortable chairs in the St. James and Rideau Club.3 1 These ranches had herds of 10,000 cattle and made substantial contributions to Canada's growing live cattle export market, a market that exceeded nine million dollars annually by 1900.32 While much of the original breeding stock was imported to this area from Montana, romantic notions of American wild-west frontiersman with chaps and six-shooters were not. Instead, Pincher Creek society of the 1880s hosted polo leagues and a steady stream of English aristocrats who were eager to experience the "not so wild west."33 This was also the era of environmental abuse and substantial wildlife losses, particularly deer, wolves, bears, moose, and buffalo. In a 1899 letter to Clifford Sifton, then Ottawa's Minister for the Interior, James Ross, the Commissioner of Public Works wrote that: . . . in the Pincher Creek district, which was at one time looked upon as the best grazing area in the Territories, the range has become so eaten out owing to want of any regulations regarding the grazing of cattle at large, that some of the Ranchers there have had to move their cattle away to other less crowded portions of Alberta.34 This situation would worsen. After the 1905 Liberal Party election win, the WSGA and their affiliates in the Conservative Party could no longer hold back the homesteaders or "sod-busters," as the ranchers referred to farmers. Tracts of leaseholds were carved up and sold as 160 acre homesteads - this time effectively squeezing out corporate ranching. Homesteaders, supported by the Liberal Party based in Edmonton, were considered the working class "underdogs," in contrast to the Calgary based Conservative ranching elite. Regardless of political affiliations, homesteaders efforts at government sanctioned mixed farming35 failed 53 due to a combination of severe climate, soil quality, drought, erosion, and intensive overgrazing on small parcels of land. Eventually over 90% of homesteaders in southern Alberta abandoned their land leaving a legacy of colonization that had reaped havoc upon wildlife and water and soil resources.36 There are several historical parallels to the current situation: Edmonton and Calgary are still split along political affiliations; habitat, water, and range management remain critical issues; Crown leases are criticized as ranching subsidies; overproduction floods markets with beef and drives down prices; and, finally, neo sod-busters increase land prices and fragment rangelands. Today, however, the distinction between elite and underdog is no longer as clear. 3.2.3. Recent Settlement Aside from the recent development of the tourism and petroleum industry, remarkably little has changed around Pincher Creek since the early 1920s. Land values have fluctuated with the Alberta economy, beef prices, and American or overseas speculation. Although ranches eventually recovered land from the homesteaders, gradually increasing in size, even the largest ranches today do not compare with those of the turn of the century.37 The population of the M D of Pincher has changed little since the 1921 census; meanwhile, the Town of Pincher Creek has continued steady growth, overtaking the M D in resident numbers in 1966. In anticipation of more than 5000 residents by 1991, the Town expanded services, schools, and built a new hospital. This growth has never occurred. Current trends have the Town of Pincher Creek slightly decreasing in population as the M D grows. (See Table 1) Similar to the MD, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is currently experiencing population growth and significant land value increases. Table 1: Pincher Creek Historical Census Year Town MD 1921 888 3649 1931 1024 4031 1941 994 3638 1951 1456 3215 1961 2961* 3240 1971 3227* 2751 1981 3757 2960 1986 3800 3093 1991 3665 3035 1996 3659 3127 * Town annexations Source: Statistics Canada 54 Communities in Alberta's foothills near urban centres and transportation corridors -for instance Cochrane, Canmore, or Bragg Creek - have endured development pressure for a long time. But recent trends have expanded this sphere of development pressure well beyond a one hour commute to Calgary.38 The recent upgrade and paving of Highway 22 between Calgary and the Crowsnest Pass, the advent of telecommuting, a growing retiree population, and the availability of comparatively inexpensive land near scenic, natural amenities have extended Canmore's boom to the American border.39 On the Montana side of that border, similar trends are driving land prices up, increasing ranchette development, and pushing ranching operations out of the western part of the state.40 On November 1st, 1997, the increase in local land values was punctuated with a sudden surge: the 5093 acre King Ranch in the Porcupine Hills of the M D of Pincher Creek and Willow Creek No. 66 was auctioned for a record $6.5 million, an average of $1300 per acre.41 When the King Ranch, previously owned and operated for seventy years by two eccentric bachelors, went to another ranch family, local sentiments expressed relief that developers were not successful.42 The successful bidders purchased this land with proceeds from their previous ranching operation, near Cochrane in the M D of Rocky View, ah area already overwhelmed by development pressure and conflict between ranches and acreages. Propelled by speculation, Pincher Creek land values are rapidly increasing beyond the economical reach of ranching. According to 1998 listings, sales, and interviews with local ranchers, the property market is supporting prices of agriculture-zoned rangeland at $1200 to $1800 per acre depending upon range quality, soil, topography, and water supply. Smaller country residential lots near rivers and reservoirs are selling for approximately $20,000 an acre. Ranching returns vary significantly per acre with range quality, from a low estimate of one cow/calf unit per fifty acres, offered by provincial government guidelines for leases with some tree or scrub cover, to 15 - 25 acres per cow/calf unit on seeded land with supplemental feeding.43 Given current beef prices and accounting for market fluctuations, ranchers require one to two hundred cattle, depending upon equity, to maintain an economically viable operation.44 So a rancher beginning a new operation with loans at current interest rates, cattle 55 sales at current slaughter prices, and Umited equity can afford to pay only about $300 per acre. By comparison, established operations with substantial equity that seek to expand can pay upwards of $1000 for additional rangelands.45 In conclusion, the difference between what ranchers and ranchette developers can or will pay for land is substantial and increasing. Illustration 5: Acreages along the Crowsnest River Source: Author Illustration 6: Acreages, Bulls, and Heifers for Sale Source: Author 56 3 . 3 . Economic Profile The 1991 Census profile of the M D of Pincher Creek reveals a population that is more unified in its labour characteristics than its income. Almost half the M D residents were directly employed in the agriculture industry. The remaining half were variously employed, including: retail, health, social services, resource extraction, construction, education services, and a miscellaneous combination of transportation, business services, or trade. (See Figure 2) The average annual family income was $52,171 - yet the median family income was only $14,280*- a difference of $37,000 across a total of 755 families.47 Given the 10.4% incidence of low income in the M D and the significant range between median and average income, one can assume there are a few very wealthy households in the M D but many more that are financially challenged.48 A review of the 1981 and 1986 Canada Census reveals that local income disparity is increasing. These differences in incomes are reflected in landowners' diverse land use practices and varying receptivity to conservation programs and M D policies. It is unlikely that the majority of owners could afford to partici-pate in programs that do not compensate them for added expenses or lost income. This was underlined in an adjacent municipality, where the Landowner Habitat Project confirmed that the majority of landowners volunteering to participate in conservation efforts maintained above average incomes and /or were not reliant upon their land for the entirety of their income.49 Figure 2: M D of Pincher Creek Labour Profile Health & Social Services 8% Agriculture Other 17% Source: Statistics Canada 1991 Census 57 3.3.1. Agricultural Base Before describing agriculture in the M D of Pincher Creek, it is important to appreciate the greater context. Alberta is Canada's second largest agricultural producer, second only to Ontario, but it has the nation's largest livestock industry. Beef comprises Alberta's highest agricultural commodity value, $2.2 billion, more than double the second highest commodity, wheat.50 Over half of all Canadian slaughter cattle are handled in Alberta plants. In spite of Alberta's livestock industry growth, beef consumption in North American is decreasing, as are cattle prices. The average Canadian who consumed fifty kilograms of beef in 1977, consumed just thirty-one, almost half, by 1995.51 A similar trend, but less extreme, has occurred in the United States. Cattle prices paid to ranchers, in unadjusted dollars, have scarcely changed since 1986; and some years, many categories of cattle prices have actually declined.52 According to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, Alberta producers are paid Canada's lowest prices for their cattle by markets. Cattle purchasing has become consolidated among four principle processing and packing plants, three of which operate in Alberta.53 In effect, market trends have reduced the price that ranchers can pay for land and increased pressure on economically borderline operations. A trend that began in the 1940s in Canada and the United States continues as farming operations decline in numbers. Over the past twenty years there was a further 9% reduction in the absolute number of Alberta farms paralleling an increase in average size of operations.54 Ranching around Pincher Creek has gradually under gone a similar trend with fewer mid-sized and small operations. Low beef prices have meant that smaller operations which do endure, require off-ranch income sources to maintain household hvelihood.55 Of the 478 operations in the M D of Pincher Creek that reported to Alberta Agriculture in 1995, 70% were cattle ranches, 10% were mixed or specialty farms such as elk, llama, or game ranches, and 10% farmed small grains.56 The average size of these operations is 1136 acres, well above the provincial norm of 898 acres. This average does not account for added grazing leases, some operated as co-ops, that effectively increase real ranch size. The local 20,000 acre Waldron Grazing Co-op is one example. This average also obscures the fact that 58 large 10,000 acre ranches - such as the Shoderee or MX Ranch - are combined with forty acre feedlots and ranchettes, recorded as agricultural operations with only a few cows. Gross annual farm receipts for these 478 operations averaged $123,770 in 1995, well above the Alberta average of $96,811.57 Gross farm receipts do not include off-ranch income or income from resource extraction leases which do impact some operations. Statistical profiles aside, numbers cannot portray the Pincher Creek community where most local ranchers have, at rninimum, second generation links to the community. Many surnames on the M D plot map, including two of the ranchers interviewed, carry forward from early in the century. Ranchers share an intense history of family bonds, WSGA political maneuvers, cattle rustling patrols, watering reserve co-ops, and dance hall parties. This rural area still has a strong community bond with both formal and informal industry links. 3.3.2. Resource Extraction Resource extraction in terms of employment and economic input is more critical to the Town of Pincher Creek where 160 town residents, double that of the M D , are employed by this sector. Town growth has shadowed the vacillations of the petroleum industry: Gulf Oil in 1947, British American Oil in 1957, and currently the Shell Waterton Plant, operating since 1962. The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board anticipates that the two major gas reserves, the Waterton and Pincher Creek Gas Fields, will continue extraction for eight years and thirty-seven years, respectively.58 The forestry industry is limited to two small mills with twenty-five employees. Forestry is declining due to decimation of local reserves by a prolonged pine beetle infestation. Moreover, climate and harsh winds retard forest growth over much of the prairie in this region. Last, limited mirving activity and several gravel quarries have ongoing operations in the MD. Their impact is minimal so their life-span was unconfirmed. Community residents are aware that petroleum and resource extraction inputs in the local economy will decline in the future. Interviews and plans indicate that residents anticipate tourism development will gradually off-set this lost employment and income.59 Importantly, neither these discussions nor local planning documents consider the impacts that 59 increased traffic, acreages, as well as the loss of wildlife habitat and the associated loss of wildlife viewing opportunities, might have upon the potential for future tourism development. 3.3.3. Tourism and Recreation Tourism industry development and informal recreational activities continue slow steady growth in southwestern Alberta and in the M D of Pincher Creek.60 Most activity is limited either to summer months, hunting seasons, or in the case of winter recreation, by geography and climate. Waterton Lakes National Park has changed little over the past fifty years, despite several projects currently under construction. The extent of ecological and development pressure threatening Banff National Park is not at work here. Many park businesses and operations are boarded-up and closed for half the year. The "Trail of the Great Bear," a private tourism promotion based in Waterton, connects tourist routes between Yellowstone, Waterton, and Jasper National Parks via the M D . 6 1 The M D does not directly participate in this promotion or any other tourism initiatives, with the exception of municipal governance responsibilities for regulating guest ranches, bed and breakfast operations, and the Westcastle Development Authority (WDA).6 2 The WDA, a publicly held corporation subsidized by and reporting to the Town and the M D of Pincher Creek, owns and operates a modest thirty-six hectare ski facility and manages the sale of some fifty hectares of adjacent land. Between 1989 and 1995, Vacation Alberta Corporation, in partnership with the WDA, proposed a major $72.6 million year-round resort in the Westcastle Valley, complete with golf courses, hotels, condonuniums, and an expanded ski hill. After a series of intense, emotional public hearings, environmental impact assessment studies, and environmental lobbies, project approval was rescinded by Order in Council and this project was permanently shelved.63 (See Appendix C: Westcastle Development History.) Since this project was well within Crown land, it is unlikely that ranching would have been directly affected. Increased development pressure has occurred regardless of the Westcastle Resort. Unfortunately, the events surrounding Westcastle Resort have negatively 60 impacted community cohesion, including: people's willingness to participate in the planning process; their perception of land use regulation; and, given re-entrenched opposing views on conservation, the possibility of a unified approach to protecting habitat. The extent of increased cynicism and how it undermines community spirit is difficult to fully appreciate.64 Compared to the regulated scope of activities in national parks or commercial resorts such as Whistler, recreational activity in the M D of Pincher Creek is virtually unrestricted. Most visitors are Alberta residents65 who come here to participate in activities that are prohibited in parks, specifically: hunting, snowmobiling, ORV touring, and camping. Many of these activities do not contribute to the area's economy and some actually occur at the expense of ranchers and residents. Alberta is developing a lucrative hunting and outfitting industry driven by increased license issuance and success rates for big game species. The most recent income estimate (1980 dollars), as cited in the 1995 Management Plan for White-Tailed Deer, is $44 million from resident hunters and $1.25 million from nonresidents.66 Deer licenses, for instance, have dramatically increased from a low of 1772 in 1960 to 83,187 in 1990.67 Consequently, throughout summer and fall this region is increasingly frequented by hunters. Environment Protection classifies moose and deer hunting pressure in the M D as "very high" and ORV access as "moderate."68 Increased game, more hunting, and a high hunter success rate for species in Pincher Creek WMUs have not benefited rural landowners and the MD. Most tourism dollars cycle through the Town of Pincher Creek where retail, hotel, and other relevant businesses are located. Given that hunting seasons for most species are limited from the later half of September to the end of November, economic opportunities dependent upon hunting are limited. Moreover, resident hunters often carry many of their provisions from home and travel with their own accommodation. By comparison, it is estimated that three times more sport-hunting income is generated from non-resident hunters who are required by law to retain a qualified outfitter or guide.69 M D economic development based on wildlife resources is constrained as the Province limits non-residents to 10% of all licenses issued. And, according 61 to a 1993 survey of resident big game hunters, almost 50% believed this portion was already too high.70 For the preceding reasons, as legislation stands, local habitat conservation through the marketing of hunting could prove to be challenging. The 1993 survey of Alberta hunters found that hunters' willingness to pay was weak and their attitudes regarding hunting on private land were irresponsible. Big game licenses for Albertans in 1997 varied from only $5.70 for a deer to $51.90 for a grizzly special license, plus a mandatory annual wildlife certificate for $24.45. Yet 58% of hunters surveyed believed these license fees were too high. Only 16% considered the fees low. The survey found that hunters seldom asked landowners for permission to hunt on private land and did not respect the "Use Respect" protocol promoted by the Alberta Cattle Cornrnission, the WSGA, Alberta Fish and Game Association, and several other government agencies.71 In light of the problems that Pincher Creek ranchers have with irresponsible hunters, as outlined in the next chapter, and the effort that sustainable ranching and habitat conservation requires of landowners, it is clear that most Alberta hunters are not aware of the extent of private and Crown subsidy of their sport. This area is well known for another consumptive use of wildlife, fishing. Sport fishing occurs in streams on private or Crown land and at designated provincial recreation sites. Villa-Vega Acres (a new acreage subdivision in the M D along the Crowsnest River) advertises, "Enjoy some of the best fly-fishing in North America." But according to Trout Unlimited and several other participants in the Westcastle hearings, angling pressure upon Westcastle River, Carbondale River, Lynx Creek, and others is unsustainably high and fish populations are decUning.72 Several native species, including bull and cutthroat trout, are now extirpated from most area streams. Although angling-based recreation contributes less per sportsperson than hunting, the fishing season is longer, the number of recreationalists participating is greater, and the anglers themselves have not been cited by ranchers in any of the documents reviewed as a concern. Aside from the importance of protecting riparian zones, stream beds, and water quality, ranching and angling share few of the conflicting issues of habitat conservation for terrestrial species. Improving local fish habitat may become a very lucrative, workable shared conservation objective. 62 Chapter 3: Footnotes 1 Environment Canada in HBT AGRA Ltd., 1992: p. 3-1. 2 Natural Resource Conservation Board (NRCB), 1993: p. 9-1. 3 Breen, 1983: p.130. 4 Ibid., p. 136 on. 5 Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC), 1996: p. 11. 6 Ibid., p. 11; NRCB, 1993; and Fairbarns, 1986. 7 Brian Chinery, personal communication. 8 This figure is almost entirely comprised of cattle, numbering 961,000. 9 Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, 1997: p.13-16. 1 0 Ibid., p. 10- 14. "The MD of Pincher Creek includes Wildlife Management Units 110, 300, 302, 303, 305, 306, and 400 in whole or in part. See Appendix A: Maps 1 2 These sources are fully annotated in the bibliography. 1 3 Todd and McFetridge, 1993: p. 3. 1 4 Ascroft et al, 1995: p. 9. 1 5 Todd and McFetridge, 1993: p. 3. 16Ascroft et al, 1995: p. 20. None of the ranchers surveyed support the carnivore eradication programs that were in place in the early 1900s. 17Typically the lower estimates are put forth by environment advocates while higher estimates are from government or hunting agencies. 18Alberta Environment Protection, 1997: p. 90; and CCWC, 1995: p. 15. 1 9 Alberta Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife Services (1990) recorded the highest number of complaints and incidents in the Kananaski region, immediately north of Pincher Creek. ^Ascroft et al, 1995. 2 1 Ibid. 2 2 The Alberta Wolf Management Plan cites an annual average of 40-50 approved claims, with less than $50,000 in payments (Alberta Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife Services, 1991: p. 48). Local figures are not available. ^Ascroft et al, 1995: p. 24; and Carolyn Callaghan, Wolf Compensation Fund, personal communication. 2 4 Breen, 1983: p. 102 - 135. 2 5 From the WSGA web site at: http://www.cattle.ca/WSGA 2 6 Reeves, 1979, in CCWC, 1996. 2 7 Breen, 1983: p. 6. 2 8 Henry Youle Hind and Captain John Palliser, 1859, in Owram, 1980: p. 67. 2 9 Lynch-Staunton, 1911(7): p. 1-5. The claim in this document that this was in fact the first farm in Alberta was not confirmed. 63 30Breen,1983: p. 23-70. 3 1 Ibid., p. 30. ^rom Statistical Year Book of Canada for 1900 reprinted in Breen, 1983: p. 66 (unadjusted dollars). 3 3 Ibid. 3 4 Sifton Papers, MG 27, II, D15, Vol. 70 in Breen, 1983: p. 120. 3 5 Mixed farming involves a variety of mutually beneficial practices on one farm, for example, vegetables, feed grains, cattle, butter, and beef, with the objective of homesteader subsistence as well as market production. 3 6 Eggleston, W. in The Prairie West, Francis and Palmer, 1992: p.339 - 352; and Breen, 1983. 3 7 Grazing cooperatives serving several ranches in southwest Alberta reach up to 30,000 acres, but individual operations remain more modest. 3 8 Avram, 1998: p. 18 - 22. 3 9 Land values in the Town of Pincher Creek and the Crowsnest Pass vary, but according to early 1998 real estate listings, serviced undeveloped lots (or those with negligibly valued structures) range from $20K - $50K. At the same time, 3-10 acres in the MD of Pincher Creek range from $60K to $100k. 4 0 Sonoran Institute, 1997. 4 1 "Highwood Livestock Auction Program" in High River; and Pincher Creek Echo, Nov. 4, 1997. Note that the complex system of auctioning this land in whole or in parcels, meant the average price per acre is lower than the price for a selected parcels which bid for substantially more. 42 Pincher Creek Echo, Nov. 4, 1997. R. Hardy and C. Cyr, personal communication. 4 3 R. Hardy, personal communication. ^Note that many smaller ranches with fewer cattle are supported in part from alternate income sources, including B&Bs, investments, or off-ranch employment. Many local ranchers who own operations outright maintain herds of less than 100 and eke out a living with an annual income of less than $14,000. 4 5 R. Hardy and M. Main, personal communication. 4 6 For comparitive reference, Alberta's 1991 median household income was $46,146 and the average was $52,346. Also, note that across Canada family farm operations consistently report low personal incomes. 4 7 The Town of Pincher Creek 1991 Census indicated that average family income was $3000 lower than in the MD but the range from median to average was less than $4000, and not $37,000. Low income rates in Town were also lower and income sources were much more diversified. ""Comparing low income figures is problematic. Within the Town the majority of low income families are single parent or individual households but in the MD there are far fewer single parent or individual households. 4 9 Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, 1990: p. 97 - 104. 5 0 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 1996: p. ix, x, and 82. 64 5 1 Ibid., p. 142. 5 2 Ibid., p. 100 -107; and CCA cattle price summaries on web site: http: //www.cattle.ca/ 5 3 Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993: p. 17 -28. A similar trend of mergers and aquisitions throughout the 1980s has halved the number of plants in the USA. 5 4 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 1996: p. ix.. 5 5 C. Cyr and R. Hardy personal communication; and Maher, 1997: p. 99. 5 6 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 1996: p. 166 -167. 5 7 Ibid., p. 166 -167. 5 8 Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Report, 1996: Table 4-5. Note: these estimates assume that the present rate of extraction continues. In practice, as reserves decline gas is usually pumped out at a slower rate, so these wells will likely be phased out over a somewhat longer period (M. Madunicky, personal communication). 5 9 Natural Resources Conservation Board, 1993; and MD. of Pincher Creek No. 9,1997. 6 0 NRCB, 1993; Alberta Tourism and Travel Montana, 1990; and Steward, Weir and Company, 1985. 6 1 This promotion is operated by a family-based society under the Societies Act. According to society founders, their original objectives - educating the public, protecting grizzly bears, and promoting appropriate tourism - have been compromised by daily tasks of coordinating advertising, guidebook sales, and promotion (Monica Weary, personal communication). 6 2 A. Colley, personal communication. 6 3 See Appendix C: Westcastle Development History, for a more complete description of events. 6 4 Maher (1995) presents a survey on public participation in land use planning in Pincher Creek that explores the effect the Castle planning process had on the community. ^According to NRCB (1993) and HBT AGRA (1992), most Castle recreationalists are southern Alberta residents from Lethbridge, Calgary, and other communities. ^Alberta Natural Resource Services, 1995: p. 49 - 51. This estimate, criticized for being excessively high, includes license fees, meat, taxidermy, employment, outfitters, and sales of rifles, ORVs, and so forth. 6 7 Alberta Natural Resource Services, 1995: p. 21 - 28. 6 8 Ibid., p. 30-39. 6 9 Stewart, Weir and Company, 1985: p. 10 - 17. The Castle River Integrated Resource Plan Financial Analysis estimated $95 (1985 dollars) is spent daily by non-resident hunters (Todd and McFetridge, 1993: p. 15). 7 0 Todd and McFetridge, 1993: p. 15. 7 1 Ibid., p. 18. 7 2 NRCB, 1993: p. 9-6 to 9-14. 65 Chapter 4: Ranching in Pincher Creek Illustration 7: Cattle Grazing along West Castle Valley Source: Author Because we have been as efficient as we are, we as North American agriculturists are our own worst enemy; North America has always enjoyed a cheap food policy, and the product that we produce is only cheap in North America. People will not understand that agricultural land is important to protect until they go to Safeway and that product is not there. Roy Copithorne, Southern Alberta Rancher "The Battle for the Foothills." Alberta Report. Jan. 12, 1998. 66 The following sections provide a detailed look at current Pincher Creek ranching and local ranchers' management practices, attitudes, and priorities. Their views on hunting, habitat conservation, resource extraction, tourism, and conservation easements are also presented. This chapter ends with a review of S A L T S ' objectives and how they relate to municipal planning and sustainable ranching. 4 . 1 . Ranching & Wildlife 4.1.1. Managing Rangelands Settlement, ranching, and wildlife have waged a battle on Pincher Creek ranges from the time of colonization, homesteading, and wolf bounties. A n d , as previously discussed, conflict is perpetuated wi th every community newspaper article about a pet lost to a cougar or calf lost to a wolf. 1 Yet overviews of recent documentation, surveys, and interviews reveal that conflicts between ranching and large carnivores are over emphasized. One reason for this is s imply that far fewer bears, cougars, and wolves exist, so less livestock is lost to predators. Another cause of over emphasis is media or environmentalists' need for a polemic to draw attention to issues. Surveys of Pincher Creek ranchers confirm there is general support for some increase i n resident bear, ungulate, and to a lesser degree, wolf populations. 2 There is a w i n d o w of opportunity for restoring an enriched ecosystem to southwestern Alberta. Current attitudes toward conserving habitat and wildlife are significantly changed from those of past generations. First, none of the ranchers surveyed by the University of C a l g a r y / C r o w n of the Continent Electronic Data Atlas ( C C E D A ) team believed the eradication programs of the previous century are acceptable today; instead, 80% thought that wolves, bears, and cougars do belong i n this area. Second, wel l over half believed that cattle and large carnivores could co-exist if offending animals were relocated or "removed." 3 Moreover, 23% agreed with conservationists that these species should be protected. Third, the majority of landowners indicated that they respected wildlife needs insofar as leaving grass on their ranges for ungulates as wel l as space for predatory species when signs of their 67 presence were noted. Remarkably, almost 50% of ranchers actually managed for wildlife.4 Finally, in respect to problems and damage caused by wildlife, ranchers indicated that they experience more losses due to elk (62%), beavers (53%), and deer (40%), than large predators (38%), which were described as "least of a problem" by some and "no problem" by others.5 Ranching and wildlife conflicts exist, but ranchers are no longer a major threat to species survival in the Pincher Creek area. Irresponsible hunters and recreationalists, not wildlife, generate the majority of problems for area ranchers, 94% of whom have experienced a variety of problems, including: gates left open; cattle chased by vehicles; damaged fences; and, cattle being fired upon.6 Ranchers' most prevalent complaint was ORV damage to ranges and the associated erosion, grass damage, weed spread, stream bed destruction, and so on. Big game grazing on private ranges in combination with damage caused by hunters have motivated the following responses from ranchers: Since people of Alberta are benefiting from wildlife, for example hunting, fishing, tourism, then they should pay; If landowners could own wildlife on their land, there might be better management, for example South Africa;7 and the vehement response, The public should pay the cost of public game on private land through compensation programs. There should be compensation for damage - wildlife damages our assets. The public should put their money where their mouth is. There is far too much emphasis on wildlife.8 Several compensation programs in Alberta, as outlined in the previous chapter, operate to help offset wildlife range use or "damage" as phrased in government documents and by ranchers. Ever wary of outside intervention, the ranchers surveyed preferred government programs to those of wildlife groups because they are seen to have "less conditions attached" and no "potential loss of property rights."9 Co-operative insurance programs, compensation from hunters or game regulatory and licensing bodies such as Buck for Wildlife, were even more favoured. Ranchers' responses to accommodating wildlife habitat, endangered species and 68 plants through direct expenditure or regulation were not enthusiastic. Although an awareness of their role as stewards, benefitting wildlife viewers, hunters, and urban beef consumers, was reiterated often, there was a sense that ranching - sustainable or otherwise - was not adequately remunerated. Surveys suggest that the majority of ranchers were adequately aware of the best practices of range management, but were financially constrained from managing ranges according to this knowledge. The following three examples explain this situation. One range management issue turns upon urban/rural differences in perspective. Specific to ranching, prolonged low beef prices are considered by ranchers to be a major advantage for urban consumers - at the expense of ranchers. At the same time, urbanites, more so than rural residents, are identified with environmental advocacy that has, sometimes justifiably, vilified ranching.10 Ranchers perceive that threats to their property rights and income arise from environmental lobbies. Last, land speculators and acreage developers on Alberta's foothills and grazing ranges are portrayed in the media as relocated urbanites, ignorant of agricultural issues. A rancher in the M D of Rocky View, an area under great development pressure, phrased the dilemma thus: 'Rurbanites' are nothing more than a generation three times removed from the farm seeking a shallow reconnection with their roots. They want to return to the memory. They want to be on an acreage out of the city, but they don't want to work it . . . [They] are often accompanied by ill-informed environmental beliefs. They question everything you do, agriculturally.11 Another conflict revolves around control on private land. Virtually all ranchers oppose regulatory-based conservation.12 They oppose the federally proposed Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act, provincial regulation of agricultural land use and practices, and restrictive municipal zoning. Furthermore, they do not support conservation agencies purchasing ecologically significant agricultural land.1 3 Peter Halle, head of CCA's Prairie Centre, argues that government regulation for conservation, habitat, and endangered species on private land will not serve a purpose.14 He believes that regulation does not recognize current stewardship capacity and that it actually functions as a disincentive for landowners to even identify wildlife on their land, stating: "ranchers are better off to shoot and quietly 69 bury it." Not one for understatements, Halle accuses Act proponents of being "socialists." Third, the connection between ranch size or economic status and conservation was repeatedly cited in both surveys and interviews: "Smaller ranches are generally more hard pressed, [and] do not have the same economic base, so may over graze at times."15 Habitat destruction, range abuse, and the sale of subdivided lots are often economically driven. Most local landowners are well informed about range carrying capacity, protection measures, and the consequences to their ranching neighbours if they opt to subdivide their land. This contradicts a simplified critique which categorizes large "agri-business" operations as environmentally irresponsible and unsustainable. The situation is far more complex. 4.1.2. Managing Access Hunting with or without landowners' permission occurs on all extensive (that is, over 3200 acres or five sections) ranching operations.16 Monitoring thousands of acres of foothills is simply not economically viable, though at least one of the ranchers interviewed employs patrols during hunting season to ensure gates remain closed, camp fires are out, and damage by hunters is minimized. Most landowners allow hunting on their land so long as hunters' use of ORV is restricted. Sometimes, when ranchers feel that herds of ungulates have increased too much and ranges are under pressure, owners encourage hunting in order to cull populations.17 Ranchers' control of access to leased Crown land, at least for hunting, was established in the 1995 landmark case OH Ranch Limited versus Wade Patton, when Alberta's highest court deemed that leaseholders have the right to refuse entry to Crown lands. This verdict expands ranchers' roles and responsibilities for wildlife and habitat conservation. Rural/urban divisions over wildlife conservation are exacerbated by the differences between consumptive versus non-consumptive enjoyment of wildlife. Far more rural or small town residents hunt.18 Both the Landowner Habitat Project and Pauley's interviews found that over 50% of ranchers /farmers surveyed are themselves hunters; therefore, it is surprising that the negative attitudes to hunters and support for wildlife damage compensation are so 70 pronounced. Few ranchers favoured outright privatization of wildlife, though responses to this idea were markedly varied.19 One rancher justifies his philosophy: I believe that deer and elk are costs to the operation that hunters benefit from. [I] grant permission freely: hunters should realize the role that landowners play in supporting game populations. If elk and deer were excluded then about 25% more cattle could be supported.20 Ranchers attitudes toward recreationalists and tourists are relatively more relaxed. All the major landowners surveyed allowed less consumptive uses, for instance hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, and fishing, on their land.21 Quite a few (23%) of the larger ranches have attempted or are actively engaged in tourism operations such as guest ranches, private campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts, typically during the Summer tourist season. Ascertaining the value of wildlife viewing opportunities and monetary compensation by non-consumptive users is more problematic than in the case of consumptive users. Yet both non-consumptive and consumptive enjoyment of wildlife benefits can be reflected through the mechanisms of conservation easements. More will be said in the next chapter about ways to compensate owners for enhancing wildlife habitat by both consumptive and non-consumptive users. 71 4.2. Ranching & Resource Extraction Petroleum industry activity is clearly prevalent in the M D of Pincher Creek, but its full economic implications for ranching are unknown. Over 90% of the ranchers participating in the C C E D A survey have some gas or oil exploration and drilling on either their leases or on private land.2 2 (Recall, these are all larger cattle ranches with a minimum of 5 sections of land, thus this percentage is not representative of all area landowners.) The ranches situated above Pincher Creek or Waterton Gas Field typically have some supplemental lease income. Since specific statistical data is either confidential or not tabulated and disaggregated by municipal jurisdiction, a detailed review of Pincher Creek is not feasible. However, in light of high provincial figures for surface rights lease payments from oil companies to ranchers, and the degree of local activity, it is fair to speculate that the oil industry is subsidizing some ranch operations.23 Recently, controversy regarding the payments the Alberta petroleum industry pays leaseholders of Crown land for well sites has been raised by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). 2 4 Over 2800 grazing leaseholders benefited from some 13,574 oil and gas based activities on Crown lands. According to 1994 CAPP figures, industry paid an average of $2000 per well for the first year and $1100 for subsequent years, totalling payments of $26.2 million to leaseholders.25 With lease rates in Southern Alberta currently set at sixty-nine cents per acre per year, leaseholders pay only $3.5 million annually to the Province for these leases.26 Crown grazing leases are renewable contracts that are traded between holders, usually ranchers, for whatever value the market will bear. Their value is determined not only by range quality, but also and potentially to a greater extent, by oil and gas activity. Crown leases accommodate some 30% of Alberta's cattle graze and have been criticized by wildlife advocates for subsidizing ranching at the expense of wildlife habitat.27 The $20 million dollars in lost government oil and gas revenue from leased Crown land is also controversial from the point of view of government policy analysts and commentators. The relationship between ranching, habitat, and the petroleum industry in Pincher Creek is complex. Extraction activity was rarely mentioned in surveys and interviews as a 72 source of land use conflict and rangeland or habitat damage. Despite this, ranges and habitat in proximity to well sites, processing plants, and along the network of roads serving operations is, to varying degrees, compromised. Where ranching operations are financially supported by industry activity, cattle grazing pressure may lessen and thereby actually benefit some wildlife species. The added income from resource revenue may also be helping to hold back a tide of increased land speculation and development. A clear picture of these variables and their relationships cannot be confirmed as very little documentation is available. Perhaps as reserves become exhausted in upcoming years, the real estate market, ranching, and land values will undergo further adjustments. Illustration 9: Shell Waterton Gas Plant Source: Author 73 4 . 3 . Ranching & Conservation 4.3.1. Ranching Culture & Conservation The M D of Pincher Creek is a small part of a major provincial agricultural industry. Given the uniqueness and importance of regional wildlife, pursuing sustainable ranching practices here stands to make a profound impact upon Alberta's environmental future. This is arguably the most suitable agricultural region in Alberta to focus conservation efforts. Bears, cougars, and elk rarely inhabit agricultural lands just fifty km east of the MD. Deer and moose populations also decline the further one travels east on the southern prairie. Conservation easements may be the most advantageous and effective mechanism by which to protect Pincher Creek lands. The philosophy of conservation easements is compatible with local ranching culture, economics, and ideologies for numerous reasons. Historically, waves of American immigrants - with their populist politics and market orientation - had a profound influence upon Alberta, particularly southern Alberta.28 This influence continues today via petroleum industry and ranching industry links. The Pincher Creek ranching community appreciates that conservation easements in the USA have increased in popularity and proven their effectiveness for over 20 years, especially for Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah ranch operations.29 Canadian and American ranching communities have previously cooperated for mutual benefit through both formal and informal organizations. Although the future of SALTS has yet to be determined, SALTS can benefit from this heritage and from having originated within the ranching establishment. SALTS is not perceived as a threat to ranching interests; ranchers' values are compatible with conservation easements because of their voluntary nature. The self-regulating quality of each easement means minimal government involvement and no new across the board regulations. Finally, according to the ranchers surveyed, the economic and private orientation of easements is a more acceptable way of acknowledging landowners' conservation efforts. 74 4.3.2. Conservation Easement Survey A 1996 survey of 173 landowners in the M D of Pincher Creek and two other agricultural districts, the Landowner's Attitudes Towards the Use of Conservation Easements to Preserve Habitat and Agricultural Land,30 measured the strongest support for all aspects of conservation easements in Pincher Creek except for willingness to actually sign an easement.31 There is support in Pincher Creek for protecting private land; however, the threat of subdivision and development, the large scale and value of operations, and the major increases in property value may be discouraging commitment. Landowners cited conservation and agricultural preservation, capital gains deductions, self-satisfaction, and a reduction in property taxes - in that order - over monetary payment or public recognition as motivations for signing conservation easements.32 This survey also found that strong supporters of conservation easements were generally more distrustful of municipal government as well as increased local control of subdivision and planning. These supporters preferred planning initiatives from regional or provincial agencies.33 Research from across the USA and Canada has found that small agricultural operations are the most supportive of conservation easements but in the M D of Pincher Creek this is not the case. Here, the more established operations (which already have significant investments and wildlife habitat conservation measures in place) have more to gain from potential tax deductions and are more supportive. Conservation easements that prohibit subdivision and development and oblige owners to protect wildlife habitat drive land value down to prices that are more affordable for sustainable ranching.34 Since market value of land with a conservation easement can be decreased anywhere from 10% to 90% of unencumbered value, an owner that is willing to donate and assign must be financially capable of carrying a major loss in equity.35 75 4.3.3. Southern Alberta Land Trust Society SALTS is a non-profit society currently being established by Pincher Creek area ranchers for the following objectives: • Constructing and administering conservation easements which will ensure the continued integrity and productivity of agricultural lands and wildlife habitat. • To maintain the ecological, cultural, productive, and scenic values of southern Alberta's foothills and prairie regions. • To work directly with landowners and agricultural interests to provide long-term protection to private lands . . . , 3 6 SALTS formally opposes increased ranch land subdivision as it ''diminishes the economic viability of surrounding agricultural operations" by inflating land values, encouraging real estate speculation and the conversion of agricultural land to other uses. Development brings with it increased population density, traffic, property taxes, weeds, and domestic pets, all of which disrupt ranching operations.37 If property taxes increase, even marginally, to pay for the higher standards and increased services associated with residential development for non agricultural interests,38 there will be a profound effect upon a 5000 acre ranch as compared to a forty acre ranchette or a ten acre country residence. Illustration 10: Gladstone Valley 76 Ranching industry critics such as Jeremy Rifkin, who are skeptical of ranching and ranching culture in any form, may criticize SALTS as a conflict of interests. However, bias in SALTS administration and decision making is to be checked by affiliations with non-partisan conservation organizations. In any case, one or more additional qualified easement co-holders are required according to Alberta legislation. To this end, SALTS has partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada along with several other environmental agencies.39 During 1998 SALTS plans to obtain charitable society status and formally initiate its objectives. To date, three ranch operations totalling 13,000 acres - including two within the Waterton Lakes National Park biosphere - are committed to applying conservation easements with SALTS. 4 0 There is also at least one other ranch in this region already protected by an easement and another smaller ranch in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, the Kerr Ranch a prime elk wintering ground, that has recently begun negotiations with the Elk Foundation.41 The relationship between SALTS and the M D began antagonistically but has since become conciliatory.42 Still, no direct cooperation or support has been forthcoming from local government, nor has SALTS been acknowledged in the Municipal Development Plan of October, 1997. On a similar note, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass initially responded negatively to the proposed conservation easement within its jurisdiction. According to Gordon Kerr, the municipality considered the easement an infringement upon local planning authority. Since then, in light of strong community support for this natural amenity and wildlife refuge (as well as a better understanding of conservation easement principles) the Crowsnest Pass Municipality has come full circle and now supports the application. In conclusion, the SALTS mandate and the principles of conservation easements harmonize with the philosophies and practices of sustainable ranching. Not surprisingly, the Stillridge and Ketaorati Ranches which practice sustainable ranching in the M D are also involved with the establishment of SALTS. 4 3 There is no axiomatic link between conservation easements and the following: organic beef production; best practices of animal handling; and other aspects of sustainable ranching. Their connection might be understood as conceptually overlapping. In this way, the marketing of Pincher Creek organic beef could be buttressed by the promotion of habitat conservation, sustainable ranching, and conservation easements. 77 Chapter 4 : Footnotes 1 For instance, "Cougar Kills Pass Dog" in Van Dusen article (Pincher Creek Echo: Feb. 17,1998). 2 Pauley, 1996; and Ascroft et al, 1995. 3 Ashcroft et al, 1995: p. 19 - 20. 4 Ibid., p. 20 - 23. 5 Ibid., p. 9-11. 6 Ibid., p. 7 -10. 7 bid., p. 9-10. "Pauley, 1996: p. 63. 9Ashcroft et al, 1995: p. 25. 1 0 For example, consider the writings of Jeremy Rifkin, Lynn Jacobs, and Earthsave. 11 Avram, "The Battle for the Foothills" in Alberta Report. Jan. 12, 1998. 1 2 Pauley, 1996: p. 13 and 62; and Ashcroft et al, 1995: p. 25 and 29. 1 3 Ranchers are wary of high conservation precedents being set and the possibility of agricultural/ environmental conflicts between adjacent owners. Farmers adjacent to lands held by Ducks Unlimited have voiced complaints about increasing weeds and wildlife damage to their lands. 1 4 Cattlemen's Association web site: http: //www.cattle.ca 1 5 Ashcroft et al, 1995: p. 17 - 20. 1 6 Ibid., p. 8. 1 7 Ibid., p. 7 - 10. 18Alberta Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife Services, 1995: p. 44. Overall statistics indicate that an average of only 2% of urban residents hunt while upwards of 10% of rural residents regularly hunt. 1 9 Pauley, 1996: p. 26. 2 0 Ashcroft et al, 1995: p. 34. 2 1 Ibid., p. 26. 2 2 Ibid., p.9. 2 3 These payments may serve to explain some of the extreme disparity in MD family income. 2 4 Saskatchewan and British Columbia governments retain revenues in most cases from oil and gas companies accessing leased Crown land. Industry prefers to lease from government instead of private lease holders because government lease rates are lower and easier to negotiate. 2 5 The Alberta Cattle Commission contests this $26.2 million figure, citing a much lower return on investments when range management expenses and repairs are accounted for. 2 6 Sources include Alberta Agriculture, Alberta Cattle Commission, and Canadian Association of 78 Petroleum Producers in Calgary Herald "Special Report," Feb. 21 and 22, 1998. 2 7 The 1998 Alberta Wilderness Association petition to stop the sale of Crown lands sent to the Premier's Office and the lobbies of the Canadian Nature Federation are part of the movement to increase conservation of Crown land and reduce leases. 2 3 Wiseman, "The Pattern of Prairie Politics" in Francis and Palmer, 1992: p. 641-644; and Breen, 1983: p. 163 -183. American settlers arrived in waves from 1900 to 1910 and again in the 1960s, ^ee Daniels and Bowers' Holding Our Ground (1997), for a full overview of the history and current status of conservation easements in the United States or the Sonoran Institute's Preserving Working Ranches in the West (1997) for a detailed overview of ranch land conservation. Pauley, 1996. The two other districts surveyed, included the MD of Rocky View, where there is significant development pressure from Calgary, and the County of Minburn, where Ducks Unlimited supports several habitat conservation projects. 3 1 Pauley, 1996: p. 22. 3 2 Ibid., p. 16. 3 3 Ibid., p. 23. 3 4 Daniels and Bowers, 1997. 3 5 Stockford, 1990; and Attridge, 1997. 3 6 SALTS, 1997; p. 4. 3 7 Mac Main, a founder of SALTS, personal communication. ^Daniels and Bowers, 1997: p. 6 on This reference describes a 1994 study of the comparative property tax contributions and municipal service allocation of agriculture operations versus country residential or group residential. When fire, police, education, roads, waste management, library, services besides other planning and land use management provisions were considered, it was found one agriculture tax dollar contribution was paid for 50 cents in municipal services. Meanwhile, residential areas enjoyed more services than their tax dollar allotted for. ^ A L T S has also approached Wildlife Habitat Canada, Alberta Ecotrust, the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, the Fanwood Foundation, and Tides Foundation (SALTS, 1997: p. 7). 4 0 Ibid., p. 4. 4 1 Kerr brothers, personal communication. 4 2 Mac Main, personal communication. 4 3 Berg (1995) provides a full investigation and analysis of the Stillridge and Ketaorati Ranches. 79 Chapter 5: Challenges & Opportunities Illustration 11: Town of Pincher Creek from Highway 6 Looking North Source: Author There is considerable concern over country residential subdivision development. Increased development creates problems for incompatible land uses in rural areas . . . this presents a special challenge to the agricultural industry. The conflicts between agricultural producers and their non-farm neighbors may ultimately limit Alberta's production capacity more so than the actual loss [of acres] of agricultural land. Agricultural Land Base Monitoring Report 1991 - 1995 Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Policy Secretariat 80 5.1. Current Planning & Policy Overview This chapter contains a detailed analysis, posing challenges and opportunities, of the relationship between municipal planning, ranching, and habitat in the case study. The analysis is divided into the main relevant issues, as called up in the subsection titles. Before embarking upon this, a short section outlines the Municipal District's planning and development policies, bylaws, and the current state of government awareness. 5.1.1. Local Awareness According to the local planner, the M D of Pincher Creek is broadly aware of ranchers' concerns and habitat conservation issues. However, the local government is constrained from addressing them by a number of limitations, both real and perceived. M D awareness is illustrated in the first of eighteen objectives in the 1997 Municipal Development Plan. It reads: To conserve and protect agricultural land, including foothills grazing lands, for extensive agriculture by nrunimizing conflicts with non-agricultural uses; discouraging fragmentation . . . into small non-agricultural parcels; ensuring agricultural lots remain as large as possible; and endeavoring to maintain traditional ranching activities.1 But at the same time the municipality also believes that it cannot prevent agricultural land values from increasing and new residents from relocating to Pincher Creek. It believes in a municipal mandate to accommodate new residents. The Province has neither clear directives nor obligations for municipalities to preserve agricultural land (or habitat) in Alberta, the only relevant clauses of the Alberta Land Use Policies require municipalities to plan "land use patterns which make efficient use of land , . . . contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of a healthy natural environment, . . . [and] the maintenance and diversification of Alberta's agricultural industry."2 Officials at Municipal Affairs and the M D planner agreed that the policies are general and vague, at once difficult and easy to follow. Easy because they lack specific obligations and difficult in their sweeping, ambitious scope. The M D is more keenly and immediately aware of residents' property rights and 81 bylaw regulation issues than of broad provincial policies. In this regard, M D landowners hardly share a unified voice on land use objectives, subdivision policies, and conservation. According to a local rancher, many landowners (sometimes quietly) wish to protect their future opportunity to subdivide a corner or more of their land and benefit from increasing land values. Finally, given the history and environmental controversy of area land use and ranching, the M D may simply prefer to avoid addressing sensitive planning issues through potentially controversial policies and bylaws. According to Gary Sandberg of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, A A M D C , rural councils seldom have the kind of unified, single-mined approach to agricultural land conservation and development that was the norm twenty years ago, nor are member municipalities united across the province. Today's rural councillors are just as likely to be lawyers or service sector workers as farmers. The lack of consensus among rural MDs means the A A M D C does not have a mandate to lobby the Province to implement conservation policies.3 Some communities - perceiving depopulation as a major problem -support more acreage development while those under development pressure more often support agricultural protection measures. This lack of unification has led to neutral non-committal provincial policies and the focus upon autonomy in the M G A as described in the second chapter. The M D of Pincher Creek shares in this trend. According to one local rancher, twenty to thirty years ago "everyone thought the same" and council, under the same reeve for over twenty years, was more cohesive. Current councillors and reeves are more apt to sit for only one term and have more diverse views about issues such as conservation and development. The M D government is aware of the environmental attention upon controversial local land use, more particularly on M D Crown land. However, references to this awareness are absent from municipal planning documents. The reasons why the M D of Pincher Creek avoids these issues should be considered. First, wildlife ownership falls to the provincial Crown4 so municipal jurisdiction is limited.5 Second, municipal expertise and its financial capacity to retain expertise in this field are limited. Moreover, local government already has an expanding mandate and limited revenue sources without additional responsibilities. 82 A review of local municipal documents and policies reveals few initiatives for conservation of habitat. Still, monitoring land uses as well as encouraging and rewarding habitat conservation on private land - especially land adjacent to mountain areas - through local control, regulation, and taxation is arguably the most immediate and effective system that exists. This level of government is directly concerned with matters relating to land, development, and the fundamental workings of our infrastructural systems, sustainable or otherwise.6 5.1.2. Municipal Development Planning & Land Use Bylaws The purpose of Alberta's Municipal Development Plans (MDP), similar to British Columbia's Official Community Plans, is to convey what kind of place a community seeks to become in the future. The MDP must address and coordinate future land use, development patterns, infrastructure provisions, transportation systems, and the delivery of municipal services. Environmental matters and social or economic development are amongst the issues that an MDP may address, but they are not required. The M D of Pincher Creek has generally elected to avoid addressing environmental, economic and social development issues. The MDP of October 1997 outlined the District's core objectives, including: conserving agricultural land as previously quoted; hmiting urban fringe development near the Town of Pincher Creek; ensuring there is appropriate infrastructure for hamlets and country residential areas; clustering industrial development; maintaining a safe, efficient transportation system; and care in locating intensive livestock facilities.7 The MDP has disregarded the issues surrounding increased land values and the effect of prices well beyond agricultural returns. Habitat is mentioned in a MDP footnote recognizing the 1987 Cottonwood Consultants and Oldman River Planning Commission study which identified and mapped Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) in the MD. ( See Appendix A: Maps.) Two general sweeping comments that could pertain to habitat conservation in the MDP objectives read: • To protect and conserve the natural scenic attributes of foothill grazing lands. • To foster land use patterns that minimize environmental impact and facilitate 83 the development of a healthy, safe, and viable municipality and to promote sustainable development and land use patterns.8 Although the municipality has access to documentation on critical wildlife ranges, habitat protection, and the collection of Alberta Wildlife Management Plans, their contents have not been integrated into area zoning maps and planning documents. Beavermines, Gladstone Valley, and Crowsnest River valley residential developments coincide with water courses and habitat zones; here, M D requirements are limited to environmental setbacks for protection from flooding and bank erosion.9 Finally, support for, or opposition to, conservation easements on lands within M D jurisdiction is not mentioned in the MDP or in any other municipal documents. Earlier regional and local planning documents went further in efforts to support wildlife needs and conserve habitat. In the past, regional planning commissions were also significantly more concerned about agricultural land protection than most local councils.10 The Oldman River Planning Commission's Oldman River Regional Plan of early 1980 acknowledged specific critical wildlife zones; forbade country residential development in these zones; recognized "special planning problems" with any development in river valleys and along shorelines as well as with planning along mountains or foothill regions.11 Later, the M D of Pincher Creek 1994 General Municipal Bylaw made reference to protecting critical habitat and ESAs, including limiting subdivision for water based recreation in ecologically sensitive habitat or areas of scenic significance. The extent to which environmental assessment or planning was actually carried into action is unconfirmed, as past development pressure was minimal compared to the current situation.12 However such provisions are necessary to open a window of opportunity for any action. That window is presently closed, as current documents do not contain provisions for planning action. This M D is not unique in respect to minimal environmental planning. An Inter-governmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research (ICURR) study, the Integration of Environmental Assessment and Municipal Planning, found there was typically little real integration between local and environmental planning across Canada. 8 4 5.1.3. Juggling Subdivisions & Land Use Bylaws The M D is currently redrafting the 1994 Pincher Creek Land Use Bylaw with a view to incorporating the recent MDP and increasing its ability to direct development. Since the dissolution of Alberta's regional planning commissions, the M D of Pincher Creek has down-zoned large agricultural parcels by elirninating the provision for subdivision of a small three acre residential lot, above and beyond the first-parcel-out and garden suite provisions. Since few landowners had taken advantage of this provision, it was acceptable to eliminate it. By contrast, policy has facilitated and encouraged subdivision amidst ranches in other ways. The 1994 General Municipal Plan Bylaw land use objectives included: • To accommodate the increased pressure for isolated and grouped country residences by encouraging their subdivision and subsequent development on existing or potentially cut-off parcels.13 The 1994 bylaw provides for a primary residence, a garden suite, potential for a first parcel out,14 and housing for farm-help on a single parcel of agricultural zoned land. Minimum parcel size of extensive agricultural land is generally 160 acres and the majority of M D lands comprise extensive agricultural zones. Where present agricultural parcels are 80 acres in size, similar subdivision provisions exist. Importantly, where any natural or built forms fragment ranges and where soils are rated poor, the current bylaw allows for a broad interpretation of the conditions of subdivision approval and recommends approval of multiple lots. Given the area's railways, roads, coulees, foothills, and variable CLI classifications, this encompasses a significant portion of M D ranch land. By comparison, M D bylaw control is much more stringent for subdivision and development on lands at the fringe of hamlets, villages, and towns; along highways; near intensive agricultural operations; and for grouped country residential. The balance between the regulation of subdivision and individual property rights varies by region. Relative to other Alberta jurisdictions, the M D of Pincher Creek bylaw is permissive. With constituent support, the M D could enforce significantly more control over subdivision.15 But, an effort to appease multiple, conflicting interests may result in policies that are irresolute, contradictory, and unworkable over the long term. 85 The present M D planning process has all subdivision applications reviewed by the local planner and then decided by council vote. Appeals to rejected applications are heard and decided by a board of local appointees representing each of the five wards.16 Although local government (or its designate) control of subdivision, development, and appeals have been criticized by developers and environmental proponents alike, local control can encourage integrity of the MDP and other land use policies. Prior to 1995, under the previous system subdivision appeals were heard by the Municipal Affairs Subdivision Appeals Board which approved 90% of all appeals to the frustration of local and regional government.17 The M G A eliminates this situation, as a higher percentage of decisions will likely be stayed. The degree of existing development in Pincher Creek is a fraction of full build-out potential as outlined in the 1994 bylaw. Imagining a residence on each parcel of 160 acres and one on every three to forty acres (where land is fragmented by topography or zoned for group country residential) serves to test the wisdom of local policy and helps to envision how current bylaws might be directed. Randall Arendt fully illustrates this envisioning process in Rural by Design and makes a case for anticipating a "full-build out scenario" in planning for the future.18 Though a built-out scenario is unlikely in any rural municipality, parts of rural jurisdictions have been gradually transformed through development, consistent with local plans and bylaws, that has yielded unanticipated results. The M D of Rocky View is One example. An accurate picture of increased residential development in Rocky View a decade ago may have informed more directed, restrictive subdivision bylaws and less conflicts today. The M D of Rocky View can serve as a model for what has begun in Pincher Creek. Again, municipal authority over agricultural land is limited. There is no precedent in Alberta for increasing the minimum lot size from 160 acres and, according to a lawyer at Municipal Affairs, it is unlikely to endure a legal challenge. The colonial grid surveyed Alberta into mile by mile sections regardless of soil quality, climate, and how appropriate agricultural operation could best be served in an area. Originally, ranches in the 19th century were far in excess of the 160 acre quarter section determined to be the minimum for homesteading. Yet this minimum still forms the basis of land use bylaws across rural Alberta despite the fact that farms and ranches are increasing in size. Today, owners buy and sell a quarter section as 86 merely a part of their operation. For a ranch to be sustainable and economically viable it requires extensive ranges; a "ranch" on less than 160 acres is either a hobby farm or a feedlot. Finally in term of taxation, the M D documents acknowledge that ratepayers have become accustomed to a relatively high level of service and that the current strong assessment base, supported by several petroleum industry operations, will decline in the future.19 M D plans anticipate that tourism industry expansion will supplant lost income and employment and provide a diverse, secure, future economy. Local documents have disregarded the likelihood that tourism is more compatible with working ranches and open ranges than with increased numbers of feedlots and residential subdivisions. If tourism is to lead to a prosperous future, a strong argument follows for protecting open and natural spaces as well as wildlife and fish populations to enhance a tourism base. This in turn harmonizes with the philosophy and the objectives of sustainable ranching. Harder questions and tougher decisions than current M D practice need to be followed through. The following analysis considers the opportunities and challenges in Pincher Creek for conservation through sustainable ranching in light of municipal policies, politics, market realities, and community dynamics. 87 5.2. Challenges & Opportunities 5.2.1. Political Representation Political representation at the municipal level in sparsely populated rural areas where community profile is changing can be volatile and, given a short three year council term, can quickly transform future community character. Agriculturists in rural communities under development pressure are aware of a potential shift in the balance of political representation from agricultural issues to those of residents less dependent upon local land use policies. In the case of the M D of Pincher Creek, whether the local political stage will evolve to serve ranching, as an opportunity or a challenge, remains to be played out. The local electoral structure has five councillors, one elected to represent each geographical division (with roughly equal resident populations), who then annually elect - from amongst themselves - a reeve. The position of deputy reeve rotates between the remaining four councillors every three months. Until recently, the same councillors were re-elected (often by acclamation), now council positions see more competition. Over the past five years the M D council has seen few incumbents and another election is scheduled for October, 1998. Given some 2000 residents of voting age, if 75% cast ballots then only 1500 votes decide the council and the fate of land use in the area. Voters in local hamlets and, increasingly, enclaves of acreage owners could change the balance of power and create factions between the five M D wards. A rancher with an extensive operation, substantial investments, and a long history in the area has the same vote as an adjacent acreage owner interested in better servicing for a hamlet. Whether a parcel of land is sold to an adjacent ranch expanding operations or to an acreage developer, the trend toward decreased ranch representation continues. Similarly, as large ranches with high equity expand their holdings and other less viable ranches sell fragmented parcels for acreages, households voting with an interest in ranching are potentially halved. One worst case scenario sees a rancher with a section of land sell each quarter section (160 acres) to different owners who can build residence(s) while maintaining some minimal agricultural activity with no 88 requirement for a subdivision or rezoning application. In this case, not only are ranching interests less represented, but there may be 8 more voters with adequate funds to pay local improvement fees or additional municipal taxes in order to have their road paved. Changes in representation also occur at the provincial level, as a similar dynamic at a regional scale shifts the mandate of a member of the provincial legislative assembly. New development is not confined to Pincher Creek: the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, the M D of Willow Creek, and the M D of Cardston are all under varying degrees of pressure. Representation shifts have occurred in the jurisdiction encompassing Calgary's fringe, the M D of Rocky View. Rocky View is repeatedly cited by farmers and featured in media reports on rancher/farmer and acreage owner conflict or right-to-farm legal challenges. After 100 years as an agricultural district, by 1995 its ten person council was comprised of six representatives of acreage owners and four of the farming community.20 This faction of council recognizes the ongoing differences in priorities and struggles over conflicting interests. Rocky View extends to a radius of almost one hour commuting distance from Calgary. By comparison, Pincher Creek's two to three hour distance offsets development pressure from daily commuters. Its lower land prices and proximity to Waterton Lakes and the Rockies may ultimately cancel out this advantage as more people telecommute and retire. There is a window of Opportunity for the time being that ranchers still comprise the largest local voting block. This window will gradually close as more acreages are developed. The more aggressively ranching interests pursue electoral representation and implement new policies, before a shift in representation, the more successfully they might conserve agricultural lands. A politically unified ranching community could readily implement more proactive policies such as support for conservation easements. Plainly, conservation easements in and of themselves will not mitigate the situation of a shifting political representation from ranchers to acreage owners. Were vast tracts of local rangeland protected by conservation easements today, acreage development would be held at bay in some regions while land prices would increase more in others. Easements merely serve to check bylaws with added development constraints, leaving less land available for potential new country residents. Given that 89 conservation easements are typically applied in perpetuity, it is conceivable that over the long term if settlement and land uses in this area are drastically altered, holders of easements could actually be caught with land they cannot effectively ranch, profitably sell, or legally develop. 5.2.2. Subdivision From the first colonial prairie grid, subdivision continues its process of gradually fragmenting land. Even as the average agricultural operation becomes larger, owners typically apply to consolidate titles only when required; for example, if they apply to subdivide some other portion of the parcel. The fact that this observation is self evident, does not diminish its importance. We often focus on the details of subdivision and forget this bigger trend. Residents' reactions to M D of Pincher Creek subdivision policies and bylaws depend upon precisely how the questions are phrased; responses vary, even amongst ranchers. Surveys of local landowners have indicated conflicting responses to similar questions regarding their views of local control over zoning, subdivision and development applications, and appeals. The ranchers supporting SALTS are more critical of the M D , particularly in regards to subdivision approvals in the vicinity of ranching operations. Their concerns for the effect this development will have upon wildlife habitat are less clear. Current M D subdivision policies and bylaws present a challenge for sustainable ranching. The M D cannot meet this group of ranchers' wishes without some compromises in the current status of property rights. In order to make these changes, local government requires an electoral mandate. Concerned ranchers had believed that the previously elected council would hold back development and oppose relaxed subdivision control and were disappointed with later events.21 This council, elected on a platform of noble intentions, became limited by governance complexity and burdened by the weight of past policy once in office. In keeping policies near the "middle-ground," councils refrain from implementing effective, meaningful changes to subdivision patterns. 9 0 Illustration 13: The Hamlet of Beaver Mines Source: Author To West Castle River Valley Source: Environment Protection Air Photo Service To Gladstone Valley Pincher Creek property taxes are gradually adjusting to reflect real estate market values, consequently recent increases are not fully the result of recent subdivision. Some ranchers' taxes (typically those on the mountain side of Highway 22 and 6) have substantially increased as a result of higher assessment value. Tax increases, thus far, are more driven by mill rate adjustments than actual development of acreages and related expenditures. Many new owners are purchasing lots now, in anticipation of eventually building a retirement home later or as an investment to resell when escalating values peak. Given that many owners have yet to build, municipal taxes have yet to reflect their additional services and costs. Unfortunately, the full consequences of current subdivision policies will occur incrementally, over a long term. By the time impacts upon wildlife and ranching are clear, there will be little that the local government will be able to do to reverse the situation. One backhanded opportunity to conserve agricultural land and support conservation initiatives is based upon the concept referred to as new resident gatekeepers: residents who have recently located to a desirable location and try to close the door for others who follow. Appropriate use of direct development charges, as per M G A provisions, is one opportunity to discourage attempts to subdivide parcels. At rrdrumum, their use may offset the immediate impacts of new settlements and services. Later local improvement levies for infrastructure and services in the vicinity of acreages catch agricultural owners who might prefer to do without nonessential improvements; therefore, improvement costs must be factored in at the time of application, when ranchers are not obliged to pay costly upgrades. Finally in regards to habitat, when ranching is practiced sustainably there is a better chance to serve the needs of local ecology, wildlife, and the conservation objectives of the national park than the most sustainable, well conceived residential subdivision. Protecting habitat on ranches among scattered country residences is futile for wildlife species that are not compatible with increased human incursions and its associated activities, including pets, traffic, non indigenous planting, and so forth. The effect upon local bears would be severe as provincial policies call for the elimination of most individual bears which habituate to human presence or are the subject of a filed complaint. Next, weed spread, specifically knapweed, is a concern for ranchers that acreage owners may not be aware of or sensitive to. Leaving 92 acreage ranges to "nature' does not automatically mean that natural, indigenous grasses will grow there; weeds may grow and spread onto cattle ranges. Last, quarter sections that are fragmented due to natural features such as coulees, forested hills, ravines, rivers valleys, and lake shores, may not serve as prime agricultural land but they are often prime habitat and should be protected from residential development. 5.2.3. Land Values & Ranching Economics As discussed in Chapter 4, the economics of starting a ranch or improving ranching land use practices are problematic. The price of land that agriculturists can pay is half to two-thirds of what the Pincher Creek market is currently supporting. Were the optimistic practices of fully sustainable ranching factored in, land affordability would be driven down even further. Compared to Alberta, British Columbia has a smaller percentage of agricultural land and more stringent policies that assist in keeping agricultural land prices down. The perception in Alberta is that there is ample agricultural land and that, except for Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer's urban fringes, it is not critical to legislate protection. Alberta's agricultural land protection policies are much weaker and its real estate market differentiates less between land use designations. Although municipalities are not empowered to directly control agricultural land preservation and effect land values, the Province could legislate overriding agricultural land preservation and implement related programs such as the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in British Columbia. This is unlikely; agricultural land preservation, as cited in the Alberta Land Use Policies: Section 6.0 Resource Conservation, is not indicated as a priority. The Policy requires municipal effort aimed at "preventing the premature conversion of these lands to other uses without restricting the development requirements of other sectors of the Alberta economy."22 Funding to subsidize ranchers who compete with developers for land is similarly unlikely, since the Province has recently terminated a broad range of agricultural programs. Seemingly, the Province has consciously left agricultural land preservation to the rigours of the market and municipal land use jurisdiction.23 93 A Pincher Creek rancher explained how he was contemplating taking advantage of inflated land prices by "cashing-out." The following paraphrase explains how cashing-out actually facilitates ranching elsewhere: A Pincher Creek rancher with one or more sections towards the western half of the M D is having difficulty making debt payments On a low annual income ($14,000, the M D median). If he sells the ranch by quarter sections and subdivides and sells any cut-off portions, the proceeds can purchase new stock and clear title on lower priced ranch land farther east, perhaps as far as Saskatchewan. And potentially, he will still have money in the bank. The new ranching operation will be under less economic pressure, well away from predator threats, and it might afford riparian area protection, ample ranges, and afford better management practices. Cashing-out may serve an individual landowner, but long range ranching viability and habitat protection becomes compromised in the greater Pincher Creek region. In this way, private property transactions take on the dynamics of "common goods economics." Future opportunities for community economic development, including tourism, recreation, fishing, hunting, all based upon natural amenities and biodiversity wealth, become compromised. The common good of sustainable ranching in easterly prairie regions, where there is significantly less wildlife and flora biodiversity, are meaningful but less critical for the preservation of ecological corridors and future opportunities to enjoy wildlife. There are opportunities for municipal government to have an indirect effect upon agricultural land prices. One approach is to deflect pressure to the Town of Pincher Creek or to expropriate lands at one or two strategically selected locations in the M D and direct development there. The M D could also support and recognize a value to consolidation of land titles and to allocation of conservation easements which disallow subdivision. US agricultural lands encumbered with conservation easements typically reduce in market value and property tax assessment. Easements create a kind of informal "agricultural land reserve" as lands become priced in accordance with agricultural productivity levels. Over the long term conservation easements and land values develop a complex relationship. One way to explain this is through game theory or the prisoner's dilemma. While lands with easements prohibiting subdivision and development decrease in market value, 94 parcels of land adjacent to and in the vicinity of conservation easements increase i n value. The promise of a natural amenity, protected i n perpetuity, outside a picture w i n d o w increases land value and development pressure next door to an easement and potentially subverts its objectives. In this analysis, certain landowners gain by refraining from applying conservation easements and a land trust like S A L T S ultimately pays the cost as land in its vicinity is developed and acreage/ranch conflicts ensue. Conservation easements work when al l ranchers cooperate, if not with legal commitments then with the spirit of shared ranching concerns. In response to this dilemma, the municipality could facilitate conservation easements by applying the measures that fall within its discretionary power and discouraging subdivisions or land use changes within an easement's ambit. It could also refrain from initiating and passing local improvements and their levies when they negatively impact agriculture. Local service roads, accessing lands where owners unanimously favour closure, could be blocked-off to deter O R V access, wildlife disturbance, and cattle rustling which stil l occurs i n this area. 2 4 While this measure may not result in many road closures, it may be workable in areas where a few owners hold vast tracts of rangeland and feel the road impedes ease of grazing rotation. Fewer local roads save the M D maintenance costs, facilitate better integrity of ranch operations, discourage acreage development, and reduce local taxes. 5.2.4. Property Taxation & Municipal Revenue Municipal revenue sources have not changed or broadened with the new M G A . More delegated responsibilities have paralleled decreased provincial transfer payments. The new M G A provided for property and buildings to be assessed at 100% of market value and created a more pronounced split between the east and west halves of the M D . Taxes adjacent the mountains and foothills have substantially increased, while many toward eastern prairies have remained the same or recorded a reduction. This works contrary to sustainable ranching and habitat preservation as the majority of wildlife ranges occur along the westerly foothills where increasing ranch production through intensive grazing is of greater concern. 95 These tax increases may also have a profound effect upon the half of MD households with incomes below the $14,280 median, who have become land rich and cash poor virtually overnight. The present agricultural land taxation system is an unrefined tool for the regulation of agricultural land use practices and the support of conservation or municipal policies. Provincial guidelines describe a complex system of calculating points based upon soil quality, agricultural productivity, and type of operation. Assessment distinguishes between arable, irrigated arable, dryland, and rangeland and ranks tax points from one hundred for the best black-soil farmland in central Alberta to upwards of 450 for pasture land. In practice, this means annual assessments vary extensively, from only a few dollars per acre to over $100.25 While low taxes, relative to other land uses, have been criticized as a subsidy of the agriculture sector, they do not account for the fact that most farm lands, even with substantially lower rates, subsidize adjacent residences.26 This assessment system does not penalize agricultural pollution or reward conservation of soil through no-till cultivation. It also does not reward protection of riparian areas, conservation of habitat, and sustainable ranching practices. Some tax relief is provided for operators who cooperate with particular provincial programs such as "Cows and Fish," however, individual efforts at sustainable and organic production are not recognized.27 Agricultural property tax for a one hundred acre intensive livestock operation - that is, a feedlot - is calculated on a similar basis as extensive range land rather than on an industrial assessment. Moreover, Alberta is one of the few provinces with no provisions for taxing farm buildings, so factory-farms do not pay for point load requirements of municipal services and waste generation. Leased crown lands pay mirumal annual municipal taxes, a provincial average of only thirty cents per acre. Lease holders have an incentive not to mismanage ranges through the Province's threat of refusal to renew. According to an Alberta Environment Protection study of leased Castle Valley range lands since the 1950s,28 a system focusing upon stewardship guided by the threat of nonrenewal has proved effective. Over grazed ranges, abused for decades, are now grazed within carrying capacity. 96 At present, provincial agricultural land assessment officers in both Alberta and British Columbia do not factor conservation easements on agricultural land into equations for calculating property taxes.29 The M D of Pincher Creek assessment officer confirmed there would be no reduction in taxes on land with conservation easements unless or until property sales of so designated lands have proved there was a reduction in sale value. Illustration 14: Two Views, East and West, from Highway 6 Source: Author 97 The argument that "agricultural taxes are so low already there is no reason to reduce them further," may be valid for farming operations with 640 acres paying less than $10,000 ($10 per acre plus residence tax). However, for 1000 to 2000 or more acres of sparse rangelands even low tax rates can quickly escalate. If tax assessment recognized conservation efforts, larger ranches would benefit proportionately more and extensive conservation easements would be encouraged.30 Finally it is important to acknowledge that ranchers' still pay comparable taxes to acreage owners on the residential component of their tax bill which remains unchanged by easements. This ensures that the local tax base is not reduced in the event of sudden enthusiastic conservation efforts. Were significant portions of a rural jurisdiction protected by easements, local government mill rates would adjust for all residents, each paying a higher proportion of taxes. In Alberta there is a risk that taxes may actually increase if private land, in part or in whole, becomes designated with a conservation easement and agricultural activities on it desist (perhaps for the purposes of protecting ecological asset).31 There is no classification for privately protected lands among the four classes of Alberta property taxation: industrial, residential, heavy equipment,32 or agricultural. Rural land that is not being farmed is classified at open market value. For example, a landowner who wishes to grant a conservation easement that prohibits agricultural activities to facilitate regeneration of low scrub cover for the burrowing owl or some other raptor species may be reassessed at a much higher value. An assessor could legally contend that this land is now classified as Class 1 or 2 (vacant residential or non-residential) instead of farmland. Property assessment still increases when an easement forbids development and a parcel decreases in market value. Thus far in Canada, there are minimal numbers of conservation easement precedents serving as guidelines for landowners and governments. The Province has passed conservation easement legislation; however, all three levels of government have yet to adapt other legislation and policies to facilitate workable conservation through easements.33 In Conservation Easement Valuation and Taxation in Canada, Ian Attridge argues that while the ability to enter into easements has been legislated, there is a "strong need to review property taxation statutes' provisions for assessing easements to eliminate unclear, unintended, and 98 internally inconsistent results."34 Attridge was responding to Revenue Canada and Department of Finance opposition to ecologically sensitive land donation exceptions from capital gains tax and various other tax credits or charitable donation caps.35 The Province of Alberta is currently reviewing existing farmland tax guidelines with the view to eliminating the degree of subsidy that low property taxes afford some agricultural operations. Ideologically, this reflects provincial politics and other recent changes. How future changes might evolve into challenges or opportunities for sustainable ranching are difficult to predict. Implementation of policies where high input agricultural operations pay their "full-fare" of municipal and provincial costs could make sustainable operations more economically viable by decreasing their assessment compared to other operations. Conversely, if the Province simplifies assessment across the boards by raising all taxes evenly, large ranches careful to under graze ranges and protect habitat and households below the poverty line may experience unmanageable tax increases. Changes to the farmland tax system require provincial directives, to which end the Province would likely seek municipal and agricultural industry input in new assessment guidelines. Ranchers committed to sustainable practices may have to aggressively defend their interests and look to get environmental groups and the public onside to achieve a system that rewards their efforts. There are numerous precedents for workable property tax mechanisms that reward conservation; three examples follow. Several US counties and municipalities, mcluding Boulder, Colorado, collect local revenue through a 1 to 2% "land title transfer tax" that is designated for the support and purchase of local conservation easements on agricultural land. This tax is readily collectable, potentially temporary, and easily administered in jurisdictions under development pressure where agriculture is threatened and land speculation is affecting land values. An adequately enabled municipal council with a local mandate for preserving land could vote in a multi-year period of the transfer tax and set an acceptable rate. The quicker that land is sold and developed, the more land is conserved, until a kind of district balance is achieved. Albertans, who have vocally opposed attempts at blanket provincial sales and universally increased taxation in the past, may accept an optional, localized, temporary land transfer tax. 99 Another land title transfer tax, the "windfall profit tax," first suggested by the Alberta Land Use Forum in the 1970s to help arrest the loss of prime agricultural land, may also prove effective at protecting agricultural land. When lands are sold at high profits, the federal government benefits through capital gains. To a lesser extent, provinces may benefit from provincial taxes and a surge in development activity, albeit temporarily, as decreased agricultural production negatively affects provincial economies over a longer term. Ultimately, the greatest negative effects resulting from agricultural land losses occur over the long term at the municipal level through increased servicing costs and governance complexity. Conceptually, the wind-fall profit tax remunerates the public purse for losses to our common goods. Finally, a relatively simple system of tax reductions for habitat conservation efforts, as per the Ontario system of property tax rebates of up to 100%, can encourage better agricultural land use practices and preservation by making sustainable farming more economically rewarding. 100 5.2.5. Community Economic Development & Tourism In light of past tourism growth, future community economic development based in tourism holds a wealth of opportunity. This opportunity depends upon natural ammenities, recreation, a scenic landscape, and both consumptive and non-consumptive enjoyment of wildlife. As described in Chapter 3, the M D has played a minimal role in tourism development and revenues may not be adequate to justify direct expenditures. The local Chamber of Commerce, somewhat more active, operates a website and coordinates marketing efforts. Provincially, efforts to facilitate tourism industry development via programs such as "Seizing Opportunity," assist potential operators with meeting regulatory requirements and approvals but limit access to investment money. Promoting Alberta tourism, likewise the management and licensing of hunting, fishing, and game farming, is being increasingly privatized and shifted to non-governmental or quasi-governmental organizations. Landowners and municipal government, now excluded from directly participating in the management of hunting and wildlife, are an important missing link. The 1998 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations contains allowances for substantially increased deer harvests in Pincher Creek WMUs where extensive damage has been experienced by land owners.36 There are no provisions for direct compensation to local landowners for the added benefits hunters exact. Instead, Pincher Creek ranchers are caught between a perceived need to cull herds to lessen range damage and the problems accompanying bands of disrespectful hunters and the damage they cause. There is an opportunity to directly and locally remunerate ranchers for wildlife on their lands and confirm their expanding roles as conservation stakeholders. Instead of paying hunting and fishing levies to provincial agencies, a local daily user fee could be levied.37 This system would have municipal districts correlated to Alberta WMUs that also serve as hunting management units. W M U boundaries require rrurumal adjustments to match municipal district boundaries (Appendix A: Maps). This daily levy, supplemental to other required licenses and tags, is specifically issued for a given jurisdiction. Since wildlife falls to the Crown and municipalities are an extension of the provincial CrOwn for the administration of property-related matters, it makes sense to direct revenue for habitat 101 maintenance and to compensate for wildlife damage in this way. Proceeds from levies could be annually pooled to offset property taxes from agricultural land in habitat zones. The reward for conserving wildlife habitat reaches ranchers directly through a reduction indicated on their property tax assessment without any "red-tape." This rebate would not assist acreage owners whose lands did not significantly contribute to wildlife habitat. If current trends in decreasing numbers of aging hunters and increasing deer populations continue in the future, such a system could be adapted to have the M D profit from the sale of game meat culled from local herds by licensed wardens. This concept is more consistent with our approach to public ownership of wildlife than the privatization models of US or South Africa. Also, given that the incentive to manage area wildlife for monetary compensation was the most prevalent landowner survey response, nurhxring populations may develop into a successful community enterprise and reduce friction between hunters, ranchers, and game.33 Another opportunity that takes the preceding idea further has been implemented in North Carolina: the Lifetime Sportsman License, where a one-time license fee, of $400 to $600, is invested in a trust fund whose dividends fund conservation easements, habitat restoration, wetland purchase, and other habitat enhancement projects.39 This overwhehriingly successful program had collected $15 million in the first ten years from 1980 to 1990. Annual dividends of approximately $1.5 million directly fund habitat enhancement arid conservation easements. Many licenses, marketed and sold as habitat conservation gifts, were assigned to non-hunters or youth who would not go on to hunt once of legal age. Since non-consumptive enjoyment of wildlife is much more prevalent than consumptive and more difficult to economically assess, opportunities, such as this, to recover non-consumptive costs need to be explored. For example, if an infant sportsmans' license invested the license principle until the child turns eighteen and might begin hunting, over this time period the sum multiplies, ensuring funding for the administration of conservation easements well into the future. Conceptually, this is cost/benefit analysis in reverse: where wildlife begins to benefit now and conservation can appeal to both consumptive and non-consumptive interests in wildlife. It encourages people to look farther into the future than they might otherwise. There is no doubt localized or provincial Lifetime Sportsman Licenses would face major provincial political obstacles in 102 Alberta, nevertheless they provide a creative opportunity to fund conservation easements for sustainable ranching within prime wildlife environs. 5 .2.6. Habitat Protection on Local Provincial & Federal Lands The relationship of development, agriculture, and conservation near the boundaries of federally and provincially ecologically designated wilderness lands are complex and difficult problems. Almost half of Pincher Creek ranch lands falls within this sphere. More specifically, over thirty sections of land, in part or in whole, adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park had been designated a special municipal "Park Vicinity Protection District." This designation is currently being repealed in response to the demands of affected landowners who were unhappy with any additional constraints upon their property rights. Protection established a firmer check for preserving natural scenic attributes and extensive agricultural use and prohibiting commercial development along the highway and near the park gate. The M D believes that blanket provisions in the bylaw suffice to discourage inappropriate development in this area because the Protection District did not explicitly address subdivision and country residential development near the park. In 1994, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources held a series of public hearings in the Waterton/Pincher Creek area. The committee received written submissions relevant to achieving federal goals for protecting a minimum 12% of Canada's natural areas as well as concerns about land use issues adjacent to national parks. One rancher whose range land fell within the Waterton Protection District submitted a commentary critical of additional regulated protected areas. He wrote: I've heard comment that we need more protected areas, because someone doesn't think that our council can be trusted to look after our wishes. Well, the bottom line is that we have chosen very carefully, the councillors of our area, and within our municipal government structure; there are a series of checks and balances which regulate the growth of our area. WE H A V E A L L THE PROTECTION WE NEED [sic].40 Pincher Creek ranchers are a diverse group but they share a fierce guard for their property rights. Conservation designation, by any level of government, is perceived as a compromise of 103 these rights. Municipal government is favoured by some for its immediacy and propensity to responsd to local agendas. Others distrust municipal commitment to their ranching interests. This leaves fewer options for effective protection of environmental systems; voluntary conservation easements, as discussed in previous chapters, are amongst these options. Illustration 16: Castle Wilderness Source: Louise Broderson 104 The situation on provincial Crown land in the West Castle River environs shares similar dynamics though these lands lack firm protection designations as compared to Waterton Lakes National Park. Designating an effective level of protection for Castle lands is imperative for enhancing wildlife, flora, and general biodiversity; yet, it is both a service and a disservice for sustainable ranching in the area. On the one hand, protection of this land could provide an opportunity for added publicity and tourist dollars for ranch-based bed and breakfasts, trail rides, and other tourist operations on ranches, in the Town of Pincher Creek, and in Waterton Lakes National Park. The latter two contain the infrastructure for more substantial economic gains than M D ranches. The major benefit of protection here is habitat for moose, wolves, bears, grizzlies, and species less prone to wander into developed lands but more of a critical issue to sustainable ranching practices and provincial environmental objectives. Although one hundred years of abuse and resource extraction have left the Castle wilderness less than pristine and in need of ecosystem repair, the area is spectacular and diverse and warrants protection, including controlled access and activities. The current status of these lands, held as a freely accessible natural playground and Crown resource chest, has resulted in their abuse. Unfortunately, while this land is a part of the MD, proceeds from Crown land form a part of provincial (not local revenue), so direct economic rewards for M D efforts are unlikely.41 On the other hand, if Castle lands are given protection or formal park designation the consequences of "loving nature to death" could prevail. Protection could increase the desirability of the area and attract more potential new residents, increased subdivision pressure and serve to push agricultural land prices even higher. As this cycle is exacerbated, sustainable ranching becomes more difficult to implement. The findings of Ray Rasker's studies42 in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park and his report on the proposed Westcastle Resort indicate that new residents relocating to an area for its natural amenities are the most supportive of firm protection status for Crown lands. It is ironic that vocally and ideologically they may be the strongest supporters of wildlife and habitat conservation, but their desire to build homes and live in proximity to critical habitat undermines the 1 0 5 viability of that habitat. New residents who are eager to protect area wilderness, import dollars into the local economy, and eliminate resource extraction may encourage these goals by refraining from purchasing rural agricultural lands. Instead, they could locate in settled zones such as the Town of Pincher Creek, M D villages, or hamlets well out of critical wildlife ranges and away from the national park. Better yet, new settlements could reclaim environments already compromised well beyond habitat potential, where residents could work for the recovery of the ecosystem. Although the preceding analysis weighs heavier on the side of challenges than opportunities and many of the relationships discussed are complex, the current early stage of development and transformation means there is still a chance to consider alternate land use policies. 106 Chapter 5: Footnotes 1 MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 and Fischer, 1997: p. 11. 2 Ibid., p. 7. See Appendix B: Alberta Land Use Policies Summary. 3 Sandberg, personal communication. The AAMDC sat two full time members on the 1995 MGA committee throughout the entire legislative planning process. 4 Exceptions to this include overlapping Federal jurisdiction over fish, migratory birds, etceteras. 5 Alberta Municipal Government Act, Part 2, 7 (h) gives municipalities the power to pass bylaws regarding wild or domestic animals that relate to property and resident safety, not wildlife. 6 At the Vancouver Briefing for the Kyoto Hearings on Climate Change on November 7th, 1997, delegates discussed the critical importance of municipal government in sustainability issues. 7 MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 and Fischer, 1997: p. 11 - 13. 8 Ibid., p. 11. 9According to the MD planner, though these requirements actually protect landowners' property and safety from floods and erosion, set back requirements still meet with their opposition. 1 0 Sandberg, personal communication. 11 Oldman River Regional Planning Commission, 1980; p. 4,5,35,26,36, and 41. 1 2 Since this time the local staff and council members have changed. 1 3 Oldman River Regional Planning Commission, 1980; p. 2. Note a cut-off parcel and a fragmented parcel are one and the same. 1 4 A "primary residence" means a developed residence used by the registered title owner or a farm operator engaged in the cultivation or grazing use of the same and possibly additional land. A "garden suite" is a supplementary dwelling unit located on the same parcel of land as the primary residence to house individuals who are dependent on the care givers that reside in the main residence. A "first parcel out" provision facilitates subdivision of one 3 acre parcel, typically along the edge of an agricultural parcel, with or without a developed residence on it. 1 5 It is difficult to gauge current support across the MD community for controlling subdivision from the documents reviewed and the limited number of interviews. 1 6 The local ward system is explained in the next section. 1 7 Mike Pearson, personal communication. 1 8 Arendt, 1996. 1 9 MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 and Fischer, 1997: p. 23. 2 0 Kenneth Kelly, Director of Planning and Development for the MD of Rocky View, presentation "Planning and Development in the Rural Context" at the Insight Conference for the 1995 MGA. 2 1 While the precise number of subdivisions and building permits issued annually are not recorded by the MD, according to the MD planner, there has been a steady gradual annual 20% increase over past few years. Thus far in the summer of 1998, this trend is accelerating. 2 2 Gerald Thomas, Director of Legislation and Planning Projects, Local Government Services, presentation at the Insight Conference, November 17,1995. 107 2 3 Bill Syrnonds, personal communication. 2 4 Rural municipalities require council vote and provincial transport ministry approval for road closures. 2 5 John Ball, Agricultural Land Assessor for the Province of Alberta, personal communication. 2 6 For analysis of subsidization of residential lands by other uses see Daniels and Bowers, 1997: p. 6 on, 55. Jay Wollenburg, Class Lecture: "Development and Market Financial Analysis," March 16,1998. 2 7 John Ball, personal communication. 2 8 Willoughby, 1997. 2 9 John Ball and Clark Closkey, personal communication. 3 0 See Daniel Stockford's article "Property Tax Assessment of Conservation Easements" for a review of the American context and the relationship between property tax revenue and extensive conservation easements in a jurisdiction. 3 1 Kwasniak, 1997: p. 12. 3 2 The recent addition of this specific category was a response to the Alberta's heavy industry lobbies to have some relief to high industrial assessments. Adoption of this legislation indicates there is some agility in the Progressive Conservative Government response. 3 3 Stollery, 1989; and Attridge, 1997. ^Attridge, 1997: p. xvi. 3 5 See the remarks of Keith Horner, Department of Finance, to the Standing Senate Committee in Protecting People and Places, Appendix E regarding government reluctance to award tax deductions. 3 6 Alberta Environment Protection, Natural Resources, 1998: p. 88. 3 7 A system like this can be likened to a city's hotel tax that is collected to fund local arts. 3 8 Pauley, 1996: p. 26. Pauley's survey found that paid hunting and landowner ownership of wildlife and management of hunting were much less favoured by ranchers compared to financial compensation for wildlife damage. 3 9 Landowner Habitat Project, 1990: p. 108. 4 0 Rick Jack address to Honourable Senators, Chairperson, and Fellow Ratepayers, of October 18, 1994 in documents submitted to Protecting People and Places, Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. 4 1 Castle Mountain Resort, owned jointly by the Town and MD of Pincher Creek and managed by the WD A, is directly affected by designation status of Castle Crown lands. See Appendix C: Westcastle Development History for an overview of recent events. 4 2 Rasker, 1995,1993, and 1992. 108 Chapter 6: Conclusion Illustration 15: Grain Farm Near Whaleback Source: Author While the growing rural-urban conflict has been noted by the provincial government, we haven't thought we've reached a point where, as the Agricultural Department, we should propose that [subdivision] stop. Mike Pearson, Alberta Agriculture Policy Analyst "The Battle for the Foothills" in Alberta Report, January, 1998 109 6.1. Sharing the Range The Pincher Creek region is a locus for the confluence of three key land use factors: extensive and intensive ranching; development and speculation pressure; and a biologically diverse, prime ecological system in a spectacular but less than pristine natural amenity. These factors participate in a kind of causal spiral that influences land values, alters land uses, and can transform a rural agricultural community. Once a critical loss - estimated at 20%1 - of agricultural operations and/or lands besets a community, the spiral of agricultural community impermanence begins as taxes, nuisance complaints, land values, and traffic all increase, political representation shifts, and the agricultural community, businesses serving agriculture, and agricultural resources become compromised and decline. As discussed in the previous chapter, rural municipal government participates both directly and indirectly in this spiral. Alberta Agriculture's Agricultural Land Base Monitoring Report 1991-1995, released in June of 1998, underlined concerns that current and anticipated acreage pressure on agricultural lands will become the greatest challenge for future agriculture productivity in the province.2 At the same time, one of the report's authors, Mike Pearson, has stated that the Province does not believe development pressure has reached a point where some kind of intervention is necessary.3 Likewise, Municipal Affairs officials consider agricultural land protection a matter for individual municipalities. Thus it is left for local jurisdiction of subdivision and development, ciroirnscribed by property rights and the Province, to fuel the spiral of agricultural impermanence or divert and manage development pressure. The scope of beef production within the greater context of agricultural sustainability and permanence includes ethical, political, economic, and environmental issues; issues which sustainable ranching confronts and answers. Efforts in economic, environmental, and political realms, as discussed in the following, are key for sustainable ranching and agriculture success. One simple, effective approach to arresting the downward spiral of agricultural impermanence and initiating more sustainable ranching practices and then supporting them is to ensure that good ranching practices are adequately profitable. North American free 110 markets, as they stand, have proved to be imperfect arbitrators of land values, conservation, and agricultural production. If shoring up agricultural production through economic regulatory intervention is not supported, adaptations of market systems can begin to factor in externalities and provide opportunities to effect changes. Such "quasi-market" mechanisms are workable within present systems. They do not require political, social, and economic transformation. In the thesis case study, this facilitates better accounting for traditionally non market goods, including conservation through easements; habitat protection through sportsmans' or localized licenses; or sustainable ranching through organic beef marketing. Another direction for efforts is aimed at growing environmental awareness and concern in the public body. Questionable practices in pharmaceutical acceleration of cattle growth, irresponsible manure handling on ranches and feedlots, and inhumane treatment of cattle anywhere are among the many practices that the beef industry is being called on to address. Excessive North American meat consumption is another valid concern raised by anti-beef advocates such as Rifkin and Earthsave. Despite these legitimate concerns, indiscriminately blaming any ranching and beef production, for all manner of environmental degradation is an inaccurate simplification of the situation. A more important issue than per capita North American beef consumption, is how that beef is produced. Individual ranchers and organizations such as SALTS, which may be reticent about involvement with some environmental groups, should nonetheless approach more well known mainstream groups that already have broad public exposure. In the April of 1998 Castle Wilderness Newsletter,4 Wendy Francis of CPAWS suggests that environmental groups work with "natural" allies such as responsible hunters, anglers, and recreationalists. Perhaps responsible ranchers also have a role to play here: to reinforce shared complaints of ORVs or otherwise irresponsible recreationalists and to support shared interests for agricultural land preservation and conservation. Sustainable ranching could have well organized and potentially very well positioned allies in ehvironmentalism. The third direction for efforts broadly involves government. To begin, federal government policies and programs must be made more consistent in respect to parks policy and taxation policy for conservation efforts. The Senate of Canada 1996 report, Protecting 111 Places and People, underlined twenty recommendations for attaining conservation goals, particularly for lands near nation parks. Among the recommendations is a call for the federal Finance Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage (who is responsible for national parks) to resolve an effective, comprehensive strategy for protecting ecologically sensitive private land. Capital gains tax and the failure to recognize approved conservation easement donations is the single greatest obstacle to the application of more easements. Two other important roles for federal authorities are international trade policy and beef production regulation. Given the opportunity for unparalleled high quality, disease free, range-fed, sustainable beef production in Alberta, it is left to trade authorities to ensure that export markets do more to distinguish between best-ranching versus factory-farming practices. This government could also do more to define a single Canada-wide standard of organic production and a more comprehensive Recommended Code of Practice for Animal Care and Handling.5 Next, provincial government should revise agricultural land taxation policies and wildlife management policies. Higher fines for damaging agricultural practices, including chemical and biological (manure) pollution, is a step in the right direction. Increasing hunting fees to more accurately reflect full costs and transferring those funds in a direct and visible manner to localized compensation programs should be the next step. Many of the conservation concerns of sustainable ranching are shared with other rural economic communities. These various groups could work together to more effectively inform revised provincial policies, for example, the Woodlot Association of Alberta which is actively lobbying the Province to adopt specific property taxation policies that encourage more sustainable harvesting practices.6 Finally, supportive municipal land use policies are critical for sustainable ranching. Rural municipalities under development pressure should establish a local committee of interested residents charged with supporting agricultural land and habitat conservation in the MD. This group could form ties with other organizations with similar mandates, such as the Wildrose Agricultural Producers of Alberta or the Sonoran Institute, to share resources and to lobby for the protection of agricultural land. 1 1 2 In the next section, a vision is distilled for local sustainable ranching and habitat conservation from the preceding analysis. It focuses more specifically upon possible directions and action in the M D of Pincher Creek. Some parts of the vision are more ambitious and broad-based, while others are more grounded in the political realities of southwestern Alberta and the present constraints under the M G A as well as other current legislation. Panning-out to the greater rural agricultural situation, the final section closes with some observations for sustainability planning throughout Alberta's rural communities and beyond. 113 6.2. Envisioning Futures in Pincher Creek One place to begin anticipating future policy is the provincial government. The Province ultimately controls Alberta's municipalities, most of its habitat, and much of its agricultural policy. If increased subdivision and country residential development create more well publicized conflicts, the Province may impose Alberta-wide agricultural land protection measures. Additional changes in provincial legislation for effective municipal jurisdiction in the realm of habitat protection and agricultural sustainability are also a step in the right direction. The Province is also considering changes in municipal revenue generation and agricultural land taxation. Their effect is as yet unknown; without doubt, agricultural districts and conservation groups will have to actively defend sustainability interests for any new taxation guidelines. In the meantime, in the face of growing development pressure, the M D of Pincher Creek should consider its options for action. There are changes the local government can implement now and others, requiring policy or legislative revisions, for which it can begin to lobby the provincial and federal governments. The new M G A has offered Pincher Creek more local autonomy; now it is left to the municipal government to apply it. Thus far, the M D has made few revisions in local planning since the previous regional commission managed land use. Minor departures, including eUmination of the second three acre residential lot subdivided from agricultural parcels, are steps in the right direction but fewer environmental and habitat considerations are not. An appeal to the future interests of local ranchers is vital for effecting proactive changes for sustainability. Despite the gross differences among income levels and ranching practices, the local ranching community must be brought together to suss out and establish shared common ground. They should work toward unifying the community around local policies and politically supporting those policies. And finally, they need to make an effort to envision just what current planning policies - compared to alternate courses of action - will manifest in the future shape of the MD. Alternate visions can begin with comparing pkrvning efforts in similar jurisdictions, including the M D of Rocky View and ranching counties in Montana and Arizona, and looking at the subsequent local outcomes of those efforts. From 114 there, a more specific - perhaps unique - path for Pincher Creek can evolve. Political and financial support for conservation easements as well as the potential for the M D legally holding easements must also be acknowledged and put forth for discussion. The current approach to local planning and subdivision is wholly anthropocentric, that is, based upon the colonial grid, upon topography relative to that grid, and upon minimum lot sizes that are keyed to well water quality control or septic fields keyed to drainage. Certainly, these are important considerations for subdivision applications, but approvals also need to respect ESAs, guard sustainable ranching opportunities, and avoid foreclosing options for future community autonomy and sustainability. Current M D subdivision policies for existing and potential "group country residential zones" on fragmented parcels near rivers and coulees should be reconsidered. These include Beaver Mines, Gladstone Valley, Crowsnest Valley, Lees Lake, and anywhere within the greater sphere of Waterton Lakes National Park. The argument "that it is futile to keep all would-be new residents at bay as this may inflate property prices further" to justify M D subdivision policy has some legitimacy. Moreover, local small towns, including Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass, are on a quest for new residents as a means of growth and economic diversification regardless of the potential impact upon the rural MD. Ray Rasker argues for this kind of renewed, diversified community in the service of Castle wilderness habitat protection; however, he does not set out parameters for where residences will be sited and how they will affect agricultural land and ranching.7 If the M D becomes more proactive in planning, concentrating, and directing development relating to new residents, Rasker's vision has merit. New residents could be directed first to the Town of Pincher Creek and second to two or three tightly clustered, carefully sited enclaves that are near existing paved roads but well away from ranches, Crown land, and habitat zones. These clusters should be towards the prairie and not in mountain and foothill areas. They must be appropriately serviced with full site costs already included in lot prices. In order to successfully realize this idea, the M D requires a mandate from the electorate and unwavering restrictive subdivision controls elsewhere across M D jurisdiction. Sufficient powers of expropriation (or preferably purchase) of land for enclave 115 sites and the shared responsibility and jurisdiction over local housing are already set out by the M G A . Should the M D not wish to take on the role of "property developer," an arms length corporation similar to the Westcastle Development Authority or a private agency could coordinate this project. Next, once firm, directed subdivision policies are in place, the local community can focus on habitat issues and how they relate to planning for ranching and rural sustainability in terms of future economic development opportunities. Municipal based stewardship may prove to be a workable, effective scale for protecting habitat and wildlife through the kind of local "clan-based" approach to habitat stewardship8 proposed in the previous chapter. Here, local residents take on more responsibility for and quasi "ownership" of area wildlife, as a common good. This approach avoids the more problematic approach for wildlife conservation through its privatization. There are numerous community economic development opportunities for supporting sustainable ranching by making it more profitable. A step towards re-establishing connections between beef consumers and ranching practices may be through a "ranch link program." Similar to micro organic beef cooperatives of Oregon and Montana, marketing local beef and responsible ranching can happen through a story and perhaps a photo of the ranch where it originated, how it was produced, and why sustainable ranching practices are important. Labelling beef for increased market differentiation is the most inexpensive and direct method of consumer education. Moreover better labelling has the support of industry organizations such as the C C A (in principle if not for organic beef purposes). Despite the fact that industry giants, including the local Cargill abattoir and key supermarket buyers, control the vast majority of consumer dollars and beef trade, a survey of local markets9 has indicated that a niche market exists if a steady supply at modest pricing premiums can be maintained. If one of the three major beef processors in Alberta refuses10 to purchase and process "micro-ranched" cattle, Pincher Creek's proximity to the Montana border and liberal Canada/US live cattle trade regulations facilitate transporting cattle to the cooperative's facilities south of the border. As consumers become more aware and concerned about the use of pharmaceuticals in 116 beef production, the task of market organic beef, with or without the assistance of major food industries, is made easier for the few remaining independent food brokers. Some M D ranches already maintain predominantly sustainable practices but sell their cattle to buyers in pooled markets where they compete directly with intensive, non organic operations. Consequently, the option to divert beef products to an organic market is available, today.11 There are other sustainable economic development opportunities, both consumptive and non consumptive, in the M D of Pincher Creek that depend upon healthy, thriving local wildlife populations. Suggestions for landowner stewardship compensation from hunters were presented in the previous chapter. The importance of non consumptive enjoyment of wildlife for development of future tourism opportunities was also underlined. Further to these, another opportunity may, in time, become viable. Were future game populations to significantly increase as hunters' mean age increases and hunting pressure decreases,12 proceeds from wild game meat sales could be diverted to landowners who support wildlife habitat and wildlife on their land. Sale of wild game meat is currently illegal; however, recent controversial legislation has provided for ranching and sale of ranched game meat under a complex monitoring system of tags and controlled markets. The first major criticism of ranching game is the spread of disease and domesticity among concentrated, penned herds and then between domestic and wild species, effectively degenerating the gene pool. The second is increased profitability of poaching game for profitable sale to established game meat markets. A localized clan system facilitates landowner profit from wild game and reduces these concerns as game remains wild and landowners alongside game wardens patrol for poachers. Under this system, only designated wardens can cull game.13 Meanwhile, ranchers continue cattle operations with additional income from dividends of pooled game meat sales. Finally, a modest but feasible vision for local economic development hinges upon enhancement of area sport fishing. Historically, when stocks were plentiful and sustainable, Pincher Creek hosted Alberta's most renowned sport fishery. Sport fishing has a much wider appeal than hunting, incurs less damage to ranges, and enjoys a long season. Foothill watersheds are still comparatively unobstructed, healthy, and free of the excessive user 117 demands that drain prairie supplies further downstream. If comprehensive efforts to protect and re-cover riparian zones, repair stream beds, and keep cows and cow manure out of water courses were undertaken whilst fish stocks were nurtured and/or replenished, a sustainable local sport fishery might be achieved. Existing provincial programs along with the potential for fundraising support through a "Southwestern Alberta Lifetime Fishing License," modeled upon the Lifetime Sportsman License, could provide the moneys for implementation. Lifetime fishing licenses could be marketed in conjunction with sustainable ranching practices, whereby ranchers conserving fish habitat through this program post gate signage which recognizes their efforts and invites license holders to fish in streams running through private land. This kind of modest approach may prove to be a more appropriate scale for local tourism than mega scale resort development such as the previously proposed Westcastle Resort.14 Illustration 18: Residents on the Range Source: Mika Madunicky 118 6.3. Planning in the Greater Rural Context Aspects of the Pincher Creek situation and the confluence of the three key factors -habitat, ranching, and development pressure - are mirrored in rural ranching communities along the length of the eastern slopes of the Rockies. The mandate of the Sonoran Institute, a nonprofit agency "dedicated to promoting community-based strategies that preserve the ecological integrity of protected lands, and at the same time meet the economic aspirations of adjoining landowners and communities," includes the preservation of sustainable working ranches in the American West.15 The Institute operates a rancher outreach program that assists individuals with applying conservation easements; ranch estate, financial, and land use planning; and agricultural land preservation. In addition, the Sonoran Institute provides a powerful political lobby for sustainable ranching interests. Over the past decade, beef production in Alberta has undergone exponential growth. Now it must "develop" and improve its practices and its environmental record. Ranching in Alberta could benefit if a comprehensive supporting agency similar to the Sonoran Institute was in place. Industry associations such as the WSGA and C A A do not play this role or fulfill this need. In Little Town Blues: Voices from the Changing West, Raye Ringholz describes how rural ranching communities like Sedona, with the fastest growing population in Arizona, are being transformed by incoming retirees, "new agers," and others who are cashing-out of the city in pursuit of a "idyllic rural life nearer to nature." Ringholz concedes that migration has diversified the local economy from that of a single resource-town and has been a boom to upscale and minimum wage service industries as well as tourism. Yet, her interpretation of the transformation is much more critical than the one suggested by Ray Rasker; she sees that the newly gentrified community is polarized between new and old residents and between new residents' environmental views and ranchers' livelihoods. The events, developments, and policies in places like Sedona can illustrate one among many possible futures Pincher Creek residents may try to plan for - or avoid. Planning for agricultural communities in rural municipalities surrounding Alberta urban centres shares a similar dynamic; in this case there is more concern for commuter driven 119 sprawl, inefficient and expensive infrastructure, tax base shift, and so forth. There is ongoing concern for the loss of productive agricultural land to urbanization and that the agricultural commodity sector, undervalued as it is, can ever really compete with the urban development market. Many agricultural commodities, not just beef, are undervalued. There are few provisions in the new Alberta M G A , besides traditional zoning, for rural versus urban municipal government to deal with the specificities and undesirable effects of differential land values. The M G A and provincial land use policies need to go further to preserve agricultural land in the various Alberta contexts where it is being threatened. Finally in the broad Canadian context, rural sustainability requires revisiting and eliminating the well worn caricatured split between "city" and "country," where the city is vilified and the country is romanticized. Agriculturists themselves should not perpetuate a caricature that exaggerates the natural, pastoral attributes of rural environs. They may be better served to acknowledge and address non point pollution as well as other agriculture related environmental and conservation issues in a direct, open manner, rather than embark upon a propaganda battle with environmental activists or, in the case of cattle ranching, with anti-beef proponents. Rural communities which seem forever in search of ways to enrich and diversify their economies should expand only along parameters that do not compromise or diminish the foundations of their community wealth. Rural communities should not foreclose future opportunities for economic development. Surges in a rural community's growth, income, and property value - like in Sedona and possibly in the future of Pincher Creek - can prove undesirable when evaluated against sustainability goals. Unless a rural region really is the "Promise of Eden," that is, endowed with a benevolent climate, geography, and diverse resources, skills, and production potential, it is unlikely that diversification of its economy will yield sustainable long term locally generated wealth and import replacement. Rural sustainability may be better served by more modest goals, based upon current economic activities that do not sell the foundations of the economic base out from beneath the community's feet. Municipal governments and planners need to take the initiative to put before their communities, the long term consequences of the various paths - sustainable or unsustainable - available to their residents today. 120 Chapter 6: Footnotes 1 Daniels and Bowers, 1997: p. 72. 2 Bazian et al, 1998: p. i and 20. See Chapter 5 title page for a quote from this study. 3 See Pearson quote in Avram's "Battle for the Foothills" on Chapter 6 title page. 4 Francis in CCWC, 1998: p. 3. 5 Agricultural Canada, 1991. 6 Under present policy, unharvested or sustainably harvested land is taxed at full market value; however, if an owner clears a lot of all its trees, taxes are radically reduced - at the expense of habitat, increased erosion, and future income. 7 Rasker, 1993. 8 While this is less effective than bioregional stewardship zones (how Alberta's municipal boundaries correspond to effective bioregions has not been analyzed), a review of Alberta wildlife management documents reveals that within Pincher Creek east/west MD boundaries, habitats and species are inclusive and well contained. Along north/south MD boundaries habitat zones for most species continue into other jurisdictions. 9 Berg et al, 1995. 1 0 Refusal may rest solely upon unacceptably high abattoir fees, rather than outright rejection of specialized processing. Since, the early 1980s, the number of small independent processors has radically decreased (Canadian International Trade Tribunal, 1993). 11 Note there are off-ranch requirments relating to slaughter practices and to feedlots where cattle typically spend their last month that need to be met for organic certification. 1 2 Todd and Lynch, 1992; and Todd and McFetridge, 1993. Both these surveys of Alberta hunters confirm that the mean age of resident hunters is increasing and, in time, hunting pressure and the numbers of hunters in Alberta will likely decrease. 1 3 A similar concept of regional or "tribal" wildlife ownership for non consumptive uses was proposed by Valerius Geist in "Wildlife Conservation as Wealth." 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New York: Dutton Books. 353 pp. Ringholz, Raye (1992). Little Town Blues: Voices from the Changing West. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. 176 pp. Robbins, John (1987). Diet for a New America. Walpole, N.H.: Stillpoint Press. Rosan, Liz ed. (1997). Preserving Working Ranches in the West. Tucson, Arizona: Sonoran Institute. 53 pp. SALTS (1997). "Funding Proposal to Wildlife Habitat Canada." Mimeograph. 128 Schneiderman, Howard and William Carpenter (1990). "Sustainability: An Opportunity for Leadership." Edwards, C , et al (1990) Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society, pp. 77 - 86. Stockford, Daniel (1989). "Property Tax Assessment of Conservation Easements." Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, Vol. 17. pp. 823 - 1989. Taylor, D. (1992). "Disagreeing on the Basics: Environmental Debates Reflect Competing World Views." Alternatives. Vol. 18, No. 3. pp. 26 - 33. Trombetti, Oriana and Kenneth Cox (1990). Land, Law, and Wildlife Conservation: The Role and Use of Conservation Easements and Covenants in Canada. Ottawa: Wildlife Habitat Canada. 49 pp. Wackernagel, M. (1998). "What's an Ecological Footprint?" Mimeograph. School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia. Wildcat Consulting (1994). "Simpson Ranch Conservation Strategy." Mimeograph. University of Calgary. Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (1997). Y2Y Waterton Conference Proceedings (.Draft). Mimeograph. 31 pp. Young, Dennis and Janine Charland (1991). Successful Local Economic Development Initiatives. Toronto: ICURR Press and the Canadian Association of Single Industry Towns. 53 pp. 129 Appendix A: Maps Base Map: Recent & Proposed Development: Gas Field Locations: Wildlife Management Units: Land Use Zoning: Environmentally Significant Areas Sources Natural Resources Canada M D of Pincher Creek, MDP, 1997 Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, 1996 Alberta Environment Protection, 1998 M D Land Use Bylaw No. 714, 1994 (?) Cottonwood Consultants, 1987 130 \ 308 is/ Tp 10 / I Environmentally Nationally signifi icant Significant Areas J - r o ™ c * f ysignificant Regionally Significant I 3» ft V. 1 — ) Castle Integrated Resource Plan (Administered by the Province) '"1 I M D Land Use Zoning (1994) Agricifi ture ismmi Bunnis/Luntlbretl^ CoujjJTy Residential Urban Fringe Protecfirin \ I E 3 Direct Control Waterton Lakes Protection Area Airport Protection Area r eZZZ2 Heavy Rural Industrial 1 . LIU s 1/ J3» 6 1 \% te^ Villages Q" ted'Ceunrry Resi * Recent & Proposed Set&_ m Sisters Jfiutta >unlairt-ifc./ * ^ "i irowsneffl < Mountain . ^J I g' -fROVEMENTJpiSTO ' . i MOUnf,-^ 1^  ( McLaren Andy Good ' P B B K , - fir; V Mount i_. P 0,-R ^JJ 'Pil • L — i f—V T + - — • $ .'-.5 Miles • JOJkbl. snest Pass ,ainjjur$ —S f Q r O 5T H I L L,S [i'Kir,.-^ T i M ' b i j i : . . . . " a t e _ Heati-Smasnea-irf fiSultatd Jump Mount McCarty flOCKY, ' ; MOUNTAIN QRAVENSTAFEL Mount '.'',1 Gladstone Iffi (fajstle Victoria Peak wn Lands Trtr;'' Mountain -v ' l, Jf' ^ Vtatoria ^^~r-~ ' Mountain uacsejty... V Flanders 'Condition Lanoemajcfc S Mountain Unsown Sao. . . South! , Wui, , , , . lipujiBawatt11.'' WATERTON L A K E S 6,;^ */ N A T l O N A U y i H K . R E S A L Base M s a Sottrceli Natural ResoUrc® FM'tutoB-."--?)^ DES LACS-WATEBTON '*WgUrfc'«A1 if* i •••... Appendix B: Alberta Land Use Policies Summary* Cabinet issued the following Land Use Policies in November of 1996 with the understanding that "Land use planning is both a municipal and provincial activity . . . . [and] expected that all municipalities will implement these policies in the course of carrying out their planning responsibilities." "Section 1.2 Interpretation" states: The Province is entrusting to each municipality the responsibility to interpret and apply the Land Use Policies and to further elaborate on the policy initiatives in its statutory plans and land use bylaws. The policies are presented in a general manner which allows municipal interpretation and application in a locally meaningful and appropriate fashion. The Land Use Policies focus on matters of public policy, not matters of law. • Planning activities are to be carried out in a fair, open, considerate and equitable manner. • To fostered cooperation between neighboring municipalities and between municipalities and provincial developments and other jurisdictions in addressing planning issues and implementing plans and strategies. • To foster the establishment of land use patterns which make efficient use of land, infrastructure, public services, and public facilities; which promote resource conservation which enhance economic development activities; which minimize environmental impact; which protect significant natural environments; and which contribute to the development of healthy, safe, and viable communities. • To contribute to the maintenance and diversification of Alberta's agricultural industry. • To contribute to the efficient use of Alberta's non-renewable resources. • To contribute to the protection and sustainable utilization of Alberta's water resources, including lakes, rivers and streams, their beds and shores, wetlands, groundwater, reservoirs, and canals. • To contribute to the preservation, rehabilitation, and reuse of historical resources, including archeological and palaeontological resources. • To contribute to a safe, efficient, and cost effective provincial transportation network. • To contribute the development of well-planned residential communities, a high quality residential environment and to the provision of adequate and affordable housing for all Albertans. • The preceding excerpts are acknowledged and cited in the 1996 M D of Pincher Creek MDP preamble. 132 Appendix C: Westcastle Development History The Castle Mountain Resort began operations in 1966 and gradually expanded operations under the private ownership of Castle Mountain Resorts Limited, until a fire in 1976 destroyed the day lodge and helped push the company into bankruptcy. Thereupon, the 36 ha facility was jointly purchased and annually subsidized by the Town and the M D of Pincher Creek. Westcastle Park has three t-bars and 20 ski runs of predominantly expert terrain that serves a clientele of almost exclusively southern Alberta residents. It is an inexpensive local recreation venue located in the heart of the Castle wilderness. Then in 1985, through Private Member's Bill 10, sponsored by both Pincher Creek local governments, the Westcastle Development Authority (WDA) a publicly held corporation, was created with a mandate to establish, develop, sell, lease, maintain, manage, and operate Westcastle Park with all related facilities including, but not limited to housing, recreation, and commercial requirements. (Paragraph 3, Bill PR 10, Statues of Alberta, 1985) Such legislation, while unique in Alberta, borrows heavily from the precedent established by Whistler. The W D A has, since, purchased 12.62 ha of Westcastle Valley Crown land with the option of purchasing another 40.47 ha of adjacent land for the purposes of year-round tourism resort development. The understanding of the W D A with Alberta Tourism was that the W D A would actively solicit private tourism investors to develop an extended commercially viable resort. In 1989, Vacation Alberta Corporation (VAC) became that investor and entered into an agreement with the W D A and Alberta Tourism to develop and expand Westcastle Park. Over the next five years V A C prepared a masterplan, an public consultation process, an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); and finally, as required by provincial regulations, they attended NRCB application hearings. The proposed $72.6 million (1991 estimate in HBT Agra, 1992) resort development included two golf courses, an expanded and upgraded ski hill alongside a hotel complex, condominiums, and a recreational vehicle park accommodating up to 2500 visitors in the heart of the Westcastle River Valley. Four new ski lifts and extensive snow-making machinery would quadruple the capacity of the ski hill. Accommodation, planned at the base of the ski hill, was to serve both unit owners and a rental pool for tourists. The golf courses were included to create a year-round marketing product and growth industry for the resort. A complete detailed account of the developments is described in the EIA. 133 The application had successfully passed through the government approval process including the NRCB application, until negotiations for the "wildland" recreation area, prerequisite to the resort development, came to an impasse. Impassioned and divisive hearings were held in 1993 in Pincher Creek to determine whether the development was "in the public interest." Although the NRCB report stressed the proposed development's extensive economic and environmental short comings and the ecological value of the area, the application was, nevertheless, approved. The approval was conditional upon 14 orders; amongst these conditions, the creation of the Castle Wildland recreation area, was one that could not be achieved. The NRCB approval sat idle for one year as cabinet ministers were shuffled and ministries were reorganized by the Ralph Klien government. Finally, in 1995, Ty Lund the new Minister for Environmental Protection took action. A twelve member multi-stakeholder consultation group, the Castle River Consultation Group, representing conflicting interests in the West Castle, was charged by Ty Lund, to recommend the terms of reference for the wildland area. This area comprised over 90% of the remainder of the Castle Sub-Region. After only three and a half months, in May of 1995, the group was disbanded by the Minister, who cited the impossibility of consensus for meeting the NRCB wildland area requirements. Four members, representing snowmobiling and off-road-vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts, had resigned from the group after bending the Minister's ear outside the committee meetings. At the same time, local logging interests, minimal they be, sponsored petitions against the wildland recreation area and a well attended rally of ORV enthusiasts in Lethbridge also put pressure on the government. Yet, the NRCB report explicitly identified the incompatibility of motorized vehicle access or resource extraction with wildland recreation. Lund took this opportunity to rescind, by Order in Council on May 11, 1995, VAC's development approval. The Minister did not try to resolve the impasse, nor did he propose another process whereby the NRCB recommendations may be met. Today, a new day lodge, ski facilities, and related buildings are currently under construction, but V A C is no longer involved with any Westcastle developments. Instead, the W D A is developing the area incrementally, in such a scale as to avoid the requirement of provincial ELA approvals and public hearings. They are disregarding regulations which ban permanent structures on this land without required approvals. NRCB officials question how the services for these structures are provided, but they have no authority to act. Erstwhile, the five shareholders of V A C have filed suit against the Province and have threatened the local government of Pincher Creek with litigation as well. 134 Appendix D: Personal Communication Apr., 1998, Tel. Conf. Mar., 1998, Tel. Conf. John Ball Assessment Services, Alberta Municipal Affairs Carolyn Callaghan Wolf Compensation Project Brian Chinery Castle Sub-Region Planner, Alberta Environmental Protection Dec, 1997, Interview Andrew Colley Planner, M D of Pincher Creek Dec, Feb. & Mar., 1997/98, Interviews Len Fullen Policy Analyst, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Richard Hardy Pincher Creek Rancher Robert & Gordon Kerr Ranch Owners, Municipality of Crowsnest David Loukidelis Author and Environmental Lawyer Ann Macy Organizer, Canadian Organic Growers Mika Madunicky Communications, Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Malcom (Mac) Main Pincher Creek Rancher & SALTS Founder William Nugent Legal Services, Alberta Municipal Affairs Glenn Pauley Project Coordinator, SALTS Mike Pearson Policy Analyst, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Dr. Robert Powell Environmental Scientist, Natural Resource Conservation Board Nov., 1997, Tel. Conf. Gary Sandberg Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties Bill Symonds Sen. Planning Advisory Services, Alberta Municipal Affairs Monica Weary Representative, Trail of the Great Bear Tourism Initiative Dr. Dave Sheppard Member, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition Feb., 1998, Interview Feb., 1998, Interview Feb., 1998, Interview Nov., 1997, Interview Apr., 1998, Tel. Conf. May, 1998, Interview Feb., 1998, Interview Feb., 1998, Interview Feb., 1998, Interview Mar., 1998, Tel. Conf. Aug., 1998, Tel. Conf. Feb., 1998, Tel. Conf. Oct., 1997, interview Sept., 1997, Interview 135 Appendix E: Communication Plan The following suggestions outline a plan to communicate the current situation as well as potential future scenarios and options for local planning in the M D of Pincher Creek. The purpose of this communication plan is to inform residents about the implications of decisions that are being made at what appears to be a major turning point in the recent history of this area. These decisions include individual landowners' land use plans, those of the local government, arid provincial policies. The communication plan is to be realized through the vehicle of a local forum or "round table" that reports to elected officials at the local and regional level. The M D land use planner and other officials should also be active core members of the forum. The audience for the communication plan and the participants in the potential forum should include residents of the Town of Pincher Creek, the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass, and adjacent municipal districts, especially Willow Creek and Cardston, which are also under development pressure. Concern about future land use issues in this area extends well beyond the boundaries of the M D of Pincher Creek; therefore, regional links within a local jurisdictional superstructure are necessary for effective planning measures. Perhaps focused localized discussions can include one representative (similar to a silent witness) from these other jurisdictions. This representative is responsible for reporting the course of discussions and sharing findings with their home municipality. Then, periodic regional meetings can actively engage all representative jurisdictions. Briefs and updates should also be submitted to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties who maintain strong links with relevant provincial agencies and departments. Although regional and provincial links are important, the forum must be kept local, focused, and responsive in scale. It must avoid taking on a mandate that is too generalized. The process should avoid being overwhelmed by special interests or higher authorities. There must be a chance for all concerned M D residents to participate and be heard. Anonymous written submissions from residents should also be encouraged due to the close-knit community scale, controversial nature, and the high financial stakes of future M D land use decisions. This will encourage more candor and honesty amongst landowners who may be considering selling or developing their lands. And finally, it should be scheduled to respect seasonal farming and ranching demands in order to facilitate attendance. 136 Background information relating to land use planning must be collected and organized into a legible, comprehensive format to effectively communicate the situation. This information includes time series subdivision application data, building permit and application trends, and economic base information, particularly pertaining to ranching. Changes in land values should also be recorded for comparative purposes. These recent trends can them be extrapolated into the future to help illustrate alternate scenarios. These scenarios, as presented in Chapter 6, could be represented in narrative, illustrative, as well as numerical terms to facilitate comparison to jurisdictions, such as Sedona or the M D of Rocky View, that are further along the downward spiral of agricultural land loss and country residential development. Next, an updated record of the forum's agenda, minutes of meetings, and findings should be posted at the local post office, M D office, or some other public building where frequent visits allow for ease and economy of communication. All relevant background information should also be posted at this location. A public comment record, directly on-site, could accommodate immediate feedback from interested parties. Visual records can be presented in a "high tech" geographic information system or merely through informal maps with post-its, thumb tacks, and a comment box. A newsletter with updated information can also be delivered to residents' homes in conjunction with regular M D business mailouts. The feedback and directives issued through the forum and any other associated communications can inform a revised M D of Pincher Creek Municipal Development Plan (MDP). From there, bylaws, zoning, and land use policies can be amended to be consistent with the MDP. Together, the forum and these amendments are a critical first step towards conserving agricultural land and habitat - while serving sustainable ranching - in the M D of Pincher Creek. 137 Appendix F: Sample Conservation Easement Form * Source: Kwasniak, A.,1997: Conservation Easement Guide for Alberta. 138 Sample Annotated1 Conservation Easement Grant and Agreement COMMENTS I This agreement is a sample only, to give the reader an idea of the kinds of clauses that could be included in a conservation easement agree-ment. The actual wording of any conservation . easement agreement depends on the circumstances. Alternatives in this sample are equal. . One alternative may be more appropriate than the other, depending on the . circumstances. B E T W E E N : insert name I (the "Grantor") and insert name (the "Grantee") (the Grantor and the Grantee sometimes re-ferred to jointly as the "Parties") Alternative A : • • ' ' In consideration of ten ($10.00) dollars paid by the Grantee to the Grantor, and in consideration of the agreements and terms herein, the Grantor and the Grantee hereby agree as follows: Alternative B: W h e n a conservation easement is a gift, ' then no consideration must be stated. Instead, the agreement should state that the gift is made voluntarily and without consideration. The alternative is the additional paragraph following 2.2. Par t I: Parties Acknowledgements and Agreements 1.1 A l l words used in the Agreement which are defined in the conservation easement provi-139 2 The Lands here means the entire parcel of land which contains the area subject to the conservation easement. The legal description means the entire description of the land as it is set out in the title at the Land Titles office. 3 Qualified organization means a qualified organization in accordance with the conservation easement provisions of the Environ/nemo/ Protect/on and Enhancement Act. Where the conserva-tion easement is also an ecological gift (see Chapter IV of this guide) it will be appropriate to substitute the alternative B clause. 4 The conservation easement area is that portion of the land to which the restric-tions and agreements in the conservation easement agreement pertain. If the conservation easement is meant to pertain to the entire , parcel then use the wording in alterna-tive B. 5 When a conserva-tion easement area covers the entire area comprising the lands, it is not necessary to add schedule B, since clause 1.2 describes the lands. sions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act have the meanings as-signed in those provisions, a copy of which is attached as Schedule A . 1.2 The Grantor is the registered owner of the following: put in legal description (the Lands). 2 Alternative A : 1.3: The Grantee is a qualified organization.3 Alternative B: 1.3 The Grantee is a qualified organization for the purposes of the conservation easement provisions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and a certified quali-fied organization for the purposes of section 118.1 of the Canadian Income Tax Act. Alternative A : 1.4 The Grantor has agreed to grant the Grantee a conservation easement in respect of that portion of the Lands described on the attached Schedule B (the Conservation Easement Area) .4 Alternative B: 1.4 The Grantor has agreed to grant to the Grantee a conservation easement in respect of the entire parcel comprising the Lands (the Conservation Easement Area).5 140 6 The Livestock Industry Diversifica-tion Act governs game ranching in the province. 7 The purpose o f the acknowledge-ments in paragraphs 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8 is t o make it clear t o bo th the parties and anyone else w h o reads the conserva-t ion easement agreement that bo th the g ran tor and the grantee must ( I ) . consent, if legislation requires a consent, and (2) be given oppor tun i t y t o part ic ipate in the decision making process, regarding any mine, mineral , utility, o r o the r activity wh ich could affect the conserva-t ion va lueso f the conservat ion easement area. 1.5 In this agreement agricultural activity in -cludes but is not limited to cultivation of any type; seeding of non-native or noxious vegetation; or raising or grazing of domestic livestock or game production animal as defined by the Alberta Livestock Industry Diversification Act,6 and water courses or bodies includes natural water courses, wetlands or other bodies of water, including surface and subsurface water. 1.6 Both the written consent of the Grantor . and the Grantee are required to authorize any exploration activities or operations and the consent of both are required in order to authorize any waste (within the meaning of the Alberta Forests Act, Mines and Minerals Act, Public Highways Development Act, Public Lands Act, Exploration Regulation) within the Conservation Easement Area . 7 1.7 The Grantor is the owner and theyGrantee is an occupant for the purposes of the A l -berta Surface Rights Act (and successor legislation). 1.8 Both the Grantor and the Grantee would be directly and adversely affected by any activity which could be authorized by stat-ute that has the potential of disturbing the Conservation Easement Area including, without limiting the foregoing, its biological diversity. 141 8 EPEA al lows conservat ion easements t o be granted f o r a t e r m . In such case, use the w o r d i n g in al terna-t ive B. 9 This clause is needed in addi t ion if the conservat ion easement is a gift. T h e number ing o f the clauses must be adjusted accordingly. 10 T h e purpose stated in 2.3 for the conservat ion easement must be one o r m o r e o f those p e r m i t t e d by section 22.1 (2) o f EPEA. T h e schedule w i l l contain an ecological descr ip-t ion o f the area in sufficient enough detail so that it is clear t o all parties w h a t the Gran to r may and may not do , . and w h e r e it may o r may no t be done. As wel l , the schedule w i l l spell o u t r ights and obligations the agreement gives t o the Grantee. 11 T h e fo l low ing clauses 2.4(a) - (u) of fer examples only o f w h a t might be included in a conservat ion easement. The clauses relevant t o any part icular conservat ion easement wi l l depend o n the per t inent c i r cum-stances. Part 2: Grant and terms of conserva-tion easement 2.1 The Grantor hereby grants to the Grantee by way of this Agreement a conservation easement to run with the Lands and the Conservation Easement Area. Alternative A : 2.2 The Grantor grants the conservation easement i n perpetuity.8 Alternative B: 2.2 The Grantor grants the conservation easement for a term of years, com-mencing on the day of , ending on the _day of , ' and 2._ The Grantor grants and gives this conserva-tion easement to the Grantee freely, volun-tarily, without any consideration or condi-tions, under seal, by way of a gift. 9 2.3 The purpose of the conservation easement is the protection, conservation and en-hancement of the environment of the Conservation Easement Area including, without limitation, the protection, conser-vation and enhancement of its biological diversity, the biodiversity and baseline data being more specifically described in Sched-ule C . 1 0 . 2.4 The Grantor agrees that each of the follow-ing covenants, agreements and restrictions constitutes an element of the conservation easement granted to the Grantee: 1 1 Vegetation Disturbance A . Except as permitted i n clause A . l or G . l , the Grantor shall not conduct, pursue or permit the cutting, removal, or destruction of vegetation, including trees, shrubs'or 142 forbes, on the Conservation Easement Area, except as required by law or with the prior express written consent of the Grantee. Trail Allowance A . 1 The Grantor may create within the C o n -servation Easement Area a sinuous trail not exceeding 800 metres in length and 2 me-tres in width for non-motorized access for personal recreational use. Drainage Alteration B. Except with the prior express written consent of the Grantee, the Grantor shall neither: i . conduct, pursue or permit any alteration, diversion, or drainage of water courses or bodies on or under the Conservation Easement Area, nor j i i . apply or permit the application to any applicable government authority to alter, divert, or drain any water courses or bodies. Water Pollution C . The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any uses or activities that would pollute or degrade the water courses or bodies on or under the C o n -servation Easement Area, the Parties agreeing that the Grantee in its reason-able opinion may determine to which/ uses or activities this element applies. Shorelines D. The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any disturbance of vegetation or soil on shorelines of water courses or bodies within the Conservation Easement Area. 143 1 2 A c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t t h a t p r o h i b i t s al l ! a g r i c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s c o u l d p o s s i b l y l e a d t o l a n d c l a s s i f i e d as f a r m l a n d f o r p r o p e r t y t a x p u r p o s e s t o b e r e c l a s s i f i e d . N o t e t h a t s u c h r e c l a s s i f i c a -t i o n s h o u l d n o t o c c u r i f a g r i c u l t u r a l u s e is m a d e o f t h e G r a n t o r ' s l a n d o u t s i d e o f t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t a r e a . H o w e v e r , t h e G r a n t o r m i g h t c o n s u l t w i t h t h e p r o p e r t y t a x a u t h o r i t y o n t h i s . m a t t e r . ( S e e a n s w e r t o q u e s t i o n 13 i n C h a p t e r I I ) . I t is i m p o r t a n t t h a t p e r m i t t e d a g r i c u l -t u r a l u s e s , i f any , n o t e r o d e o r t e n d t o e r o d e t h e n a t u r a l v a l u e s o f t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t i n a w a y s o t h a t t h e a g r e e m e n t w i l l n o t m e e t t h e p u r p o s e s o f a c o n s e r v a t i o n , e a s e m e n t as s e t o u t i n t h e Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Wildlife Disturbance E. The,Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, . or permit any activity making or causing noise, glare, obstruction, or odour on the Conservation Easement Area that may be reasonably anticipated to disturb wildlife patterns, the parties agreeing that the Grantee in its reasonable opin-ion may determine to which activities this element applies. Habitat Enhancement F. . The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, /' or permit any habitat restoration or enhancement of the Conservation Easement Area without the prior express written consent of the Grantee. Agricultural Activities G . Except as permitted in clause G . l , or except with the express written consent of the Grantee, and then for habitat management purposes only, the Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any agricultural activity on the Conservation Easement Area. G . 1 The Grantor may carry on the following agricultural activities in the conserva-tion easement area: insert permitted agricultural activities.11 Livestock H . Except with the express written consent of the Grantee, the Grantor shall not - permit domestic livestock or game production animal as defined by the Livestock Industry Diversification Act from entering or using the Conservation Easement Area. 144 Fence Damage I. The Grantor shall not permit, as is reason ably possible, livestock damaging fences or other improvements on the Conser-vation Easement Area, the Parties agreeing that the Grantee in its reason-able opinion may determine the mean-ing and application of "reasonably possible" for the purposes of this clause. Wildlife, Fence Type J. The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit the impeding of wildlife move-i ment to and from the Conservation Easement Area and, not to limit the generality of the foregoing, except with the prior express written consent of Grantee, or except as permitted i n clause J . l , the Grantor shall not con-struct or place or permit the construc-tion or placement of any fence.within the Conservation Easement Area if it is greater than 1.2 metres high or if it contains more than three strands. Fence Replacement, Repair J . l For better certainty, clause J does not obligate the Grantor to replace fences existing in the Conservation Easement Area prior to the date of this Agree-ment. However, any Grantor's repairs or replacements of existing fences shall be i n compliance with clause J. Chemical Spraying K . The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any application or deposit of any chemical herbicides, pesticides or . fertilizers, or other chemicals on the Conservation Easement Area except as required by law, and then only in the amounts and with the frequency of 145 application which constitutes the mini-mum necessary to accomplish compli-ance with law. Excavations L. Except as specifically permitted by this Agreement, the Grantor shall not con-duct, pursue, or permit any soil distur-bance, excavating, dredging, or mining of sand, gravel, or rock or other materi-als on the Conservation Easement Area. Refuse / M . The Grantor shall not place or permit the placement of garbage, waste, debris or refuse, whether human or non-human', produced on the Conservation Easement Area. Hunting, Trapping N . The Grantor shall not conddct, pursue, or permit any hunting, killing, or trap-ping of animals, including birds, on the Conservation Easement Area except as required by law or with the prior express written consent of the Grantee and then only for habitat management purposes. Motorized Vehicles O. The Grantor shall not operate or permit the operation of motorized vehicles of any kind on the Conservation Easement Area except as required by law, or as expressly authorized by the Grantee in writing, to,permit motorized access by the Grantee or its authorized representa-tive to the Conservation Easement Area to monitor or enforce this Agreement. Constructions E The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any development or cons true-146 tion on the Conservation Easement Area including, but not limited to, a dwelling or other building or structure, without the prior express written con-sent of the Grantee. Alteration o f Construction Q. The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue, or permit any disturbance to or altera-tion of any improvements on the C o n -servation Easement Area made by or on behalf of the Grantee, without the prior express written consent of the Grantee. Rjght-of-Way R. The Grantor shall allow the Grantee or its authorized representative to enter • and or pass upon the Conservation Easement Area at reasonable times to observe its condition and state in con-nection with this Agreement. Subdivision S. The Grantor shall not conduct, pursue or permit any application or other endeavouring for subdivision of any part of the Conservation Easement Area. Notice of processes relating to potential land disturbance or reclamation T. The Grantor agrees to give the Grantee prompt notice of any proposals or proc-esses of which the Grantor becomes aware relating to any energy or utility applications, reclamation, or other activities which may have any impact on the Conservation Easement Area, in order to give the Grantee opportunity to participate in relevant processes. The parties acknowledge that the proposals or processes include but are not limited to applications to or proceedings under 147 13 A s d i s c u s s e d i n > t h e a n s w e r t o q u e s t i o n 2 4 , C h a p t e r III o f t h i s g u i d e , i n o r d e r t o c a r r y o u t e x p l o r a t i o n a c t i v i t i e s t h e h o l d e r o f a m i n e r a l r i g h t m u s t o b t a i n t h e c o n s e n t o f c e r t a i n p e r s o n s w i t h s u r f a c e i n t e r e s t s . T h i s c l a u s e is m e a n t t o m a k e i t c l e a r t h a t t h e G r a n t o r a l o n e d o e s n o t h a v e a u t h o r i t y t o a l l o w a c c e s s f o r e x p l o r a -t i o n t o t h e C o n s e r -v a t i o n E a s e m e n t A r e a w i t h o u t t h e w r i t t e n c o n s e n t o f t h e G r a n t e e . 14 T h i s c l a u s e is i n c l u d e d s i n c e a t l a w , i n s o m e c i r c u m -s t a n c e s a f a i l u r e t o r e s p o n d m a y c o n s t i t u t e d e e m e d a p p r o v a l . T h e c l a u s e c o u l d b e s o f t e n e d t o , f o r e x a m p l e , r e q u i r e t h e G r a n t e e t o r e s p o n d in w r i t i n g t o t h e G r a n t o r ' s r e q u e s t s , o r a t l e a s t , r e q u i r e t h e G r a n t e e t o e n d e a v o u r t o r e s p o n d . 15 S e c t i o n 22-. I ( 3 ) o f t h e Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act a l l o w s t h e G r a n t e e t o a p p o i n t a n a d d i t i o n a l q u a l i f i e d o r g a n i z a t i o n t o e n f o r c e t h e a g r e e m e n t . S e e a n s w e r t o q u e s t i o n 3 5 in t h i s g u i d e . the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, the Natural Resources Conservation Board, the National Energy Board, or applications or any proceedings under the Environmental Protection and En-hancement Act. Surface access for exploration U . The Grantor shall not permit any acces to the Conservation Easement Area required under the Forests Act, Mines and Minerals Act, Public Highways Devel opment Act, Public Lands Act, Exploration Regulation (Alta. Reg. 32/90) or other legislation relevant to access to the Conservation Easement Area without first obtaining the written consent of th Grantee. 1 3 2.5 The Parties agree that where under this Agreement it is the Grantor's obligation to request the prior written consent o f the Grantee, the Grantee is not obliged to give any response, whether the response be a consent or a denial. 1 4 Part 3: Enforcement 3.1 The conservation easement may be en-forced by the Grantee, or by such other person appointed in accordance with sec-tion 22.1 of the Environmental Protection am Enhancement Act (the Grantee or appointee person herein called the Enforcer).15 3.2 The Enforcer or its authorized representa-tive may enter upon the Lands to access th< Conservation Easement Area or monitor compliance with this agreement at any time with the Grantor's permission, or otherwise at reasonable times, upon two-day written notice to the Grantor. 3.3 The Enforcer may, without reasons, deter-148 16 T h e A g r e e m e n t g i v e s t h e G r a n t e e a n a r r a y o f t o o l s t o e n f o r c e t h e A g r e e m e n t . N o t e t h a t c l a u s e 3.6 g i v e s t h e E n f o r c e r t h e r i g h t t o a p p l y f o r a prohibitive injunction, m e a n i n g a c o u r t o r d e r r e s t r a i n i n g a p e r s o n f r o m d o i n g o r c o n t i n u i n g s o m e a c t . A c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t a g r e e m e n t s h o u l d a u t h o r i z e p r o h i b i t i v e i n j u n c -t i o n s s i n c e b y t h e t i m e a d e f a u l t has o c c u r r e d , i t m i g h t b e t o o l a t e f o r t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t v a l u e s . mine not to enforce any or all of the cov-enants herein contained without liability. A n y failure to enforce or strictly enforce any of the covenants in this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of or abrogate any of the covenants or elements of this Agreement. 3.4 The provisions and elements of this Agree-ment are enforceable jointly and severally. 3.5 This Agreement may be enforced upon the default of the Grantor of any provision or element herein, regardless of the degree or significance of the breach or default. 3.6 "Without derogating from any other rights of the Enforcer, in addition to any other rights herein, if the Enforcer reasonably believes that default will occur the Enforcer may apply for injunctive relief to prohibit or prevent default or the continuance of de-fault. 1 6 . y 3.7 In enforcing this Agreement the Enforcer shall be entitled to apply for and obtain any and all legal and equitable remedies. 3.8 Without derogating from any other rights of . the Enforcer, i n addition to whatever other remedy at law or equity, any violation of this Agreement in whole or in part, is hereby declared a nuisance and every remedy allowed by law or equity against a person causing or permitting a nuisance, either public or private, may be exercised by the Enforcer. 3.9 The rights of the Enforcer given in this Part are continuing and may be exercised from time to time, and as many times, as the circumstances may require. 149 17 It is important that the agreement set out who is responsible to pay property taxes. Part 4: Assessments, taxes, costs, and damages 4.1 The Grantor agrees to pay all real property taxes and assessments levied by a competent authority against the Lands, including as that does, the Conservation Easement Area . 1 7 4.2 Except as expressly agreed to in writing by the Grantee from time to time, the Grantor agrees to: A - maintain the Conservation Easement / Area in accordance with this Agree-ment, and subject to obtaining any consents required by this Agreement, promptly repair any damage to the Conservation Easement Area caused by breach of this Agreement, including, but not limited to damage to improvements or fences within the Conservation Easement Area, and B. bear all costs and liabilities of any kind relating to the operation, upkeep, main-tenance, restoration, and repair of the Conservation Easement Area, including, but not limited to improvements and fences, and the Grantor does hereby indemnify and hold the Grantee harm-less therefrom. 4.3 In the event of a dispute as to the precise physical boundaries of the Conservation Easement Area the Parties agree that all costs associated with determining the pre-cise physical boundaries shall be paid as follows: A . Where the dispute arose by virtue of the Grantor carrying on activities within the disputed area which in the Grantee's or Enforcer's opinion violated this Agree-ment 150 18 As discussed in the answer to question 16, Chapter III of this guide, although there may be legal certainty as to where the , boundaries are of a Conservation Easement Area, in every circumstance there might not be absolute physical certainty. For example, although a conservation easement described by descriptive plan might adequately identify the area for Land Titles registration purposes, it might not be clear, for example, whether a certain tree is within or outside of a Conservation Easement Area. This clause provides a mechanism to fairly allocate costs where a question arises regarding precise physical boundaries. 11. 111. B. by the Grantor, where determination of the precise physical boundaries proved that the activities did occur within the boundaries of the Conser-vation Easement Area; by the Grantee, where determination of the precise physical boundaries proved that the activities did not occur within the boundaries of the Conservation Easement Area; prorated between the Grantor and the Grantee in accordance with 4.3 (i) and (ii) where determination of the precise physical boundaries proved that the activities partially occurred within the boundaries of the Conservation Easement Area; In any other case, by the Party desiring to precisely determine the physical boundaries.' 8 4-4 A l l remedies provided herein or at faw or i n equity shall be cumulative and not exclu-sive. . 4.5 The Parties agree that any costs incurred by the Grantee or other Enforcer i n enforcing, judicially or otherwise, any terms of this Agreement against the Grantor, including, without limitation, litigation costs, lawyers , fees and disbursements, and any costs of restoration or replacement necessitated by the violation of the terms of this Agreement by the Grantor, shall be borne by the Gran-tor. 4.6 The Parties acknowledge that damages based on market value will not usually adequately compensate for damage to ecological integrity, habitat alteration, or other environmental harm. Accordingly, the Parties agree that if required to ad-equately compensate the Grantee for viola-151 19 Courts typically award damages based oh market value. For a breach of a conservation easement agreement damages based on market value likely would be the market value of the lands prior to violation of the agreement, compared to the market value of the lands after violation of the agreement. In most cases the market value approach does not do justice where damages are to ecological integrity. | For example, suppose a Grantor violates a conservation easement agreement by draining a wetland in a conservation easement area. Damages based on market value might be negligible, or even zero, since draining the wetland could increase market value of the property. However, damages based on restoration costs (i.e., recon-structing a wetland) could be substantial. Clause 4.6 will give a court the opportunity to base damages on restoration costs if they would better compensate the Grantee. 20 A clause like this is optional, however the parties should consider including one. It is important to the Grantor which qualified organization . has the right to enforce and monitor the conservation easement agreement. tions of this Agreement, damages may be based, on restoration or replacement costs, whichever, in the opinion of the Court shall better compensate the Grantee. 1 9 4.7 A l l remedies provided herein or at law or in equity shall be cumulative and not exclu-sive. P a r t 5: Assignment 5.1 The Grantor may advise the Grantee at any time of his or her preferences for a substitute qualified organization, in the event that the /Grantee assigns the conservation easement. ,'The Grantee shall take into account any such preference of the Grantor in the event the Grantee decides to assign this conserva-tion easement 20 P a r t 6 : Notices 6.1 A l l notices under this Agreement/shall be in writing and sent by registered or certified mail as follows: To the Grantor at: To the Grantee at: 6.2 A Party may change its address for service by notice to the other Party. P a r t 7 : General 7.1 The Parties may by mutual agreement in writing resolve any dispute on any matter contained in or arising out of this Agree-ment by arbitration in accordance with the Alberta Arbitration Act. However, a notice in writing by one Party to the other at any time prior to the commencement of arbitra-tion that the Party does not wish to resolve 152 a matter by arbitration is sufficient evidence of lack of mutual agreement. 7.2 Where the context so requires, appropriate number or gender is deemed to be ex-pressed. 7 3 The provisions of this Agreement shall be liberally construed to effect its purposes. 7.4 Each element and provision of this conser-vation easement is severable and the invali-dation or discharge of any one or more of them shall not invalidate or discharge any other element or provision herein. In case any term, covenant, provision, phrase, section, or other element contained in this Agreement for any reason shall be held invalid, illegal, or unenforceable in any respect, the same shall not affect, alter, modify, or impair i n any manner whatsoever any other application thereof or any other term, covenant, provision, phrase, section, or other element contained in this Agree-ment, the provisions of which shall be carried out as if such invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision were not contained herein. 7.5 This Agreement remains enforceable not-withstanding any change in local planning or change in the planning classification of the areas comprising the Lands or the Conservation Easement Area. 7.6 This Agreement remains enforceable not-withstanding any changes in particular species currently using the Lands or the Conservation Easement Area as habitat, or changes in habitat types. This provision recognizes that ecosystems are vital systems changing with time and circumstances. 7.7 Every person who now owns or acquires any right, title, or interest in or to any portion of 153 21 A s n o t e d in t h e a n s w e r t o q u e s t i o n 15 , s t e p 11, i n C h a p t e r II o f t h i s g u i d e , t h e D o w e r Act r e q u i r e m e n t s m u s t b e c o m p l i e d w i t h . T h e l a w y e r p r e p a r i n g t h e a g r e e m e n t s h o u l d a t t a c h t h e a p p r o p r i -a t e D o w e r f o r m s a n d a s s u r e p r o p e r e x e c u t i o n . 22 B e s u r e t o a d d al l S c h e d u l e s . T h i s s a m p l e a g r e e m e n t h a s t h e f o l l o w i n g S c h e d u l e s : A t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t p r o v i s i o n s o f E P E A B d e s c r i p t i o n ( v e r b a l a n d v i s u a l ) o f t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t a r e a ( w h e r e t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n e a s e m e n t a r e a is a p o r t i o n o f t h e L a n d s ) C e c o l o g i c a l i n v e n t o r y a n d b a s e l i n e d a t a the Lands containing all of or a portion of the Conservation Easement Area is and shall be conclusively deemed to have con-sented and agreed to every term, covenant, condition, and restriction contained herein, whether or not any reference to the Agree-ment is contained in the instrument by which such person acquired an interest in the Lands. 7.8 The conservation easement herein shall be in full force and effect until discharged in , accordance with the Environmental Protec- . I lion and Enhancement Act. 7.9 Every section of this Agreement and the Schedules hereto incorporated herein constitute a part of this conservation easement Agreement.1 7.10 This conservation easement Agreement shall be construed in accordance with the laws of Alberta. y 7.11 Time shall, in all respects, be of the es-sence of this Agreement. I N W I T N E S S W H E R E O F the Grantor and the Grantee have executed this Conservation ' Easement Grant and Agreement under seal this day of , 19 . A s to the Grantor: (seal) Witness As to the Grantee: 21, 22 (seal) 154 


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