The Ghost Watershed is on the Eastern Slopes upstream from Calgary. The Alliance is a local group of mostly volunteers who on this night attracted a full house of mostly community members. The highlight was a visual ‘story-telling’ about a project where money from a fine for driving a truck into the river was used to build a bridge and to restore a river bank. I first met this can-do organization through our mutual funder Alberta Ecotrust Foundation during the Ghost Cumulative Effects Study. This study simulated how changing land use practices impact environmental quality and some provocative trade-offs that may be required. For example, restricting off highway vehicles to appropriate trails could measurably improve water quality, but the kilometres of official trails necessary to accommodate the use would exceed that which currently exists. More provocatively, better practices in multiple industries still would not counteract the rate at which our current land use trajectory is depleting our natural capital. We need a serious discussion about which benefits we want the landscape to provide, and about the role of market economics in delivering those benefits. These types of findings are directly relevant to regional planning, so understandably some hopes were high.
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