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SPOG Learn at Lunch focuses on environmental awareness

The Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) Learn at Lunch lecture series continued at the James River Hall last week, with guest speakers discussing environmental awareness issues.

The Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) Learn at Lunch lecture series continued at the James River Hall last week, with guest speakers discussing environmental awareness issues.

Dozens of area residents attended the seminar sponsored by the SPOG environment committee. In all, four guest speakers made presentations over two hours.

Rick Anderson, (right top) a member of the environmental committee, explained that the new SPOG agriculture initiatives program (AIC) is now up and running.

The program has evolved from the Caroline Livestock Study, the WISSA study and the Sundre area cattle surveillance program.

There are three voting members from industry and three from agriculture, as well as other stakeholder representatives.

Goals of the committee include identifying resources, information and people resources in the area when it comes to agriculture and its relationship to the petroleum industry.

The committee also wants to extend education of the public about oil and gas and agriculture relationship, animal welfare and information sharing about the various studies already completed.

The committee will be hosting an industry workshop next month as well as a community workshop in the fall. The committee also expects to make a presentation at the SPOG Neighbour's Day in September.

Anderson said good record keeping by landowners is always important when it comes to documenting oil and gas related incidents on properties.

SPOG has an incident protocol chart on its website for landowners to use when preparing records. Other reference material regarding record keeping is also available at the SPOG office.

“Good record keeping pops up in everything we do,” said Anderson.

Kelsey Spicer-Rawe, (right bottom) with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, gave a lecture on the work of the society to help maintain good river, creek, stream and lake shorelines across Alberta.

She said the societal benefits of good riparian areas include natural water filtration, flood regulation, wildlife habitat preservation, recreation, food production for livestock and wildlife, CO2 storage, soil formation, tourism and human health.

On the other hand, unhealthy riparian areas represent a decrease in agricultural production, loss of land, decreased water supply, and negative impacts on water quality.

A recent survey conducted by the society of 1,939 sites in Alberta found that 25 per cent of the sites were healthy, 25 per cent unhealthy and 50 per cent healthy with problems.

Landowners, farmers and ranchers can help maintain riparian health by balancing animal demands with available forage supply (in the areas), distributing livestock evenly, avoiding or minimizing grazing the areas during fragile or vulnerable periods, and providing effective ‘rest' for the areas after grazing.

Kevin Warren, the executive director of the Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ) gave a lecture on efforts to control and reduce air pollution in West Central Alberta.

Those efforts include public open houses across the region, and the ongoing PAMZ ozone management plan.

In its first two years the plan focused on information, communication and public outreach, resulting in the HERO program recognizing individuals or organizations that promote air pollution prevention.

The plan is now focusing on medium term objectives that are “more action oriented and relying on PAMZ members, partnerships, and others to take action to reduce ozone precursors,” he said.

More than 40 representatives from the oil and gas industry, local municipalities, provincial government agencies, non-government organizations and others took part in a recent ozone prevention workshop, he said.

The fourth speaker of the night was Sustainable Resource Development's Barry Shellian, who spoke about the province's Fire Smart program.

Dan Singleton

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