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Your forest industry needs your help, Whitecourt!

Dear Editor,


The Alberta Government refuses to lift the moratorium on harvesting in the Little Smoky Range which has already resulted in a loss of harvesting jobs and will continue to threaten more jobs by limiting the volume and cost of fibre available to the forest industry in the area.

In a recent response letter to the Alberta Forest Alliance (AFA), Oneil Carlier (your MLA and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry) refused to lift the moratorium. From reading the letter, it is clear to me that both our provincial and federal governments are more concerned about the health and growth of a small herd of caribou in the Little Smoky Range than the health, happiness, and livelihoods of hundreds of families which, directly and indirectly, continue to count on the forest industry for their living. I find it ironic that the Little Smoky herd maintained its size while cohabitating with the forest industry (for over 25 years) while at least two other caribou herds in Alberta’s National Parks (with no industry) disappeared. One remedy does not have to fit for all herds. What’s wrong with the forest industry continuing to harvest in the Little Smoky Range using its own caribou management plan which has had success for over 25 years? The forest industry has spent millions on programs to minimize the impact on the herds (including scheduling harvesting to avoid operating in caribou zones during critical times of the year).

I believe that both your provincial and federal governments, in their quest to save the planet, have forgotten about the future for those hard-working men and women employed by the forest industry and other resource development jobs.

In his letter, Mr. Carlier said, “Actions to manage caribou and restore the landscape will also create jobs that will support our communities.” I suggest that these jobs are not comparable to the quality and quantity of the jobs that will be lost. The jobs that Mr. Carlier speaks of are jobs that will be paid by taxpayers. The relatively higher paying forest industry jobs and other resource development jobs are paid from the revenue of the sales of goods and services predominantly outside of Alberta and Canada which strengthens our economy.

What happened to the urgent need to diversify our economy? What better industry to use to maintain economic diversification than a sustainable resource-based industry to ensure that their forest and mill operations meet rigorous environmental standards (the toughest in the world) or the forest company will be shut down by the Alberta government?

I cannot believe that with such an uncertain and unpredictable proposed plan to save this small herd of caribou there cannot be some specific flexibility in this case to save the livelihoods of so many families. They don’t want handouts! They want to keep their jobs!

Please be heard! I suggest you e-mail all or some of the following:

– Your premier Rachel Notley at [email protected]

– Your Minister of Environment and Parks (and caribou planning) Shannon Phillips at [email protected]

– Your MLA Oneil Carlier at [email protected].

– Your Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at [email protected].

– Your Minister of Environment and Climate Change at [email protected]

– Your MP Arnold Viersen at [email protected].

Send a short message asking to lift the timber harvesting moratorium in the Little Smoky Range. Ask them to please ensure that the priority of your jobs and your family’s livelihood is placed before the uncertain and unpredictable fate of a small herd of caribou. Also attach a photo of your family so they see the human side behind each of your jobs! Help them get their priorities straight! Time is running out!

Harold Freeman


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