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UCP allows private company to manage Southern Alberta forests

The sun rises between the trees as bluebells, also known as wild Hyacinth, bloom on the forest floor of the Hallerbos in Halle, Belgium, Tuesday, (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

CALGARY – A Calgary-based environmentalist group is concerned that the United Conservative government quietly approved a 20-year deal to allow a private company to manage over 3,500 square kilometres of land in Southern Alberta—much of it covered by woods.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says it has serious qualms with the sudden privatization of forest management in a massive swath of land that includes Livingstone and Porcupine Hills.

Becky Best-Bertwhistle with CPAWS says the deal with Crowsnest Forest Products appears to have gone ahead without any public knowledge or consultation.

“The forest act in Alberta is really outdated and it does nothing to prioritize public consultation in any way, so that’s how stuff like this is allowed,” Best-Bertwhistle said.

“Because the legislation that backs it up is really old-fashioned, it absolutely doesn’t consider public input a priority.”

A news release from the province says Alberta retains all of its roles and responsibilities and the company will be required to ensure sustainable forest management.

–with files from Lisa Grant