Photo By Dave Sauchyn

Water, Fescue
and the
Future of the West
The Sheldon Chumir Foundation
for Ethics in Leadership
[email protected]
Livingstone Landowners Group
and the Pekisko Group
Photo By Dave Sauchyn
Alberta’s Hardest
Working Capital
Water keeper
Carbon saver
Soil builder
Wildlife feeder
Beef sustainer (3rd generation ranches)
Heritage maker
Drought fighter
Insect warrior
Diversity banker
The Fescue Economy
The Remaining Bank Account
Expanding Aridity
Annual moisture index for 1961-90 (left) and for the median scenario (HadCM3
B2(b)) for the 2080s (right):Sauchyn
From Wallace Stegner
“There are plenty of people in the West
who approach western land, water,
grass, timber, mineral resources and
scenery as grave robbers might
approach the tomb of a pharaoh.”
In-Situ Uranium Mining
C5 Forest
Management Plan
Photo by Brad Stelfox
Rosebud, Alberta
Natural Gas Wells
Area scale of actual to shown
dot features; 113:1
Area scale of actual to shown
linear features; 26:1
EUB and IL 93-9
• special policy for the eastern slopes
• thorough public consultation
• big picture planning “to avoid
piecemeal proposals”
• environmental assessments
• all companies must consolidate plans
• “a commitment; not a requirement”
Power lines
Southern Foothills Study
Data base on cumulative land use trends
Use ALCES model
Tool for planning
“common ground for discussion by all parties in
future land use planning.”
Southern Foothills Study
Three land owner groups
Three municipal districts
Two major oil companies
Town of Nanton
And more to come.
Good Science
• Modern land use practices,while increasing the short-term
supplies of material goods, may undermine many ecosystem
services in the long run, even on regional and global
scale....There is an increasing need for decision making and
policy actions across multiple geographic scales and multiple
ecological use practices can offer “winwin-win” environmental, social and economic benefits.
Science: Vol. 309, July 22, 2005
Innovative Thinking
Given that the oil sands is a water eater and CO2
maker, par excellence, maybe the province needs a
trade-off. Maybe the province needs to regard the
eastern slopes as a vital water maker and carbon
banker. Maybe the province doesn’t need another
sacrifice zone but a sustainable beef economy that
protects fescue, water, scenery and our heritage.
Oil Sands:
A Water Spender
• 349 million cubic metres
per year from the
Athabasca River.
• That’s 2 cities the size of
Pembina Institute: Down to the
Last Drop
Oil Sands:
Carbon Maker
Carbon Saver
• Soil under fescue may contain
up to 200 tonnes of carbon per
hectare or more.
• “The carbon underfoot in a
good grassland soil may exceed
the amount of carbon in all
above-ground portions of a
temperate forest.”
• Western grasslands may contain
2 to 3-billion tonnes of carbon.
H.H. Janzen: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Water Saver
Sacrifice Zone?
Homeland Water Security
A Win-Win-Win