Alberta Wilderness Association
Our Story Why We Exist
Around a kitchen table at a home near Pincher Creek, a group of concerned friends gathered and the conversation brought them to the last backpacking trip they were on, the day they were out looking through their scope for Bighorn sheep and the changes they were seeing on the landscape. The changes that were affecting wildlife, the quiet they once knew, the dust in the air, the growing logging and oil and gas activity and the changes in how they could enjoy the wilderness they had always known. Feisty and part of the 60’s revolution, this group of formidable people with the vision to realize something must be done to protect wild spaces sought the help of government and other organizations that they thought would be concerned too. In the end, they were the ones who would advocate and speak up for wildlife and wilderness and they formed the Alberta Wilderness Association. More than 50 years later, almost certainly they had no idea their concerns would befelt as strongly today as it was in the beginning.
While Alberta Wilderness Association works throughout Alberta, it is an especially crucial time now for the Castle Wilderness of southeast Alberta. The long overdue protection needed for the Castle Wilderness is as close as it has ever been. This wilderness is often referred to as restoration wilderness, largely because of the overuse and abuse it has suffered from multiple competing interests. It is time to let nature take its course and help restore vital headwater security andhabitat for threatened and endangered species like native trout, grizzly bears and truly rare plants and trees.
That the vision and determination the founding members of Alberta Wilderness Association had has helped so many become aware and speak up for wildlife and wilderness is a priceless legacy; one well beyond their imaginings. Today with more than 7000 members and supporters, we are dependent on the vision and determination of people throughout the province to help us be strong and to make a difference in the legacy we will leave generations to come.
Our Impact What We Do
As population increases and the industrial footprint expands, Alberta’s wilderness urgently needs better protection than is now in place. Provincial protected areas are small and isolated, many of them allow industrial development and inappropriate recreational activities and many natural regions are poorly represented in the current network. The connectivity between protected areas and functioning ecosystems is essential to the maintenance of biodiversity.
We are the only independent province-wide organization working steadily for more than 50 years toward the completion of a protected areas network and the conservation of wilderness throughout Alberta. Our tenacity, longevity, passion and integrity are well-recognized and respected, providing us with a credible platform from which to defend Alberta’s wild places. Sometimes our successes are measurable, but more often, we know we are making a difference through “by-the-way” comments from members of the public.
We work with individuals and organizations across Alberta to increase awareness and help people become environmental stewards who care about the health of our wilderness and wildlife; who realize the importance of protecting the source of our water. We also engage politically on issues concerning wilderness conservation in the province in the areas of WILDLANDS, WILDLIFE and WILDWATER.
Our results from being actively involved in developing government policy over the years:
- the Coal Policy (1976)
- the Eastern Slopes Policy (1970s/80s)
- the Land-Use Framework (2007/08)
- Wetlands Policy (2008)
- Effectively opposed water diversion projects such as the Meridian Dam and the Oldman River Dam
- Worked tirelessly toward the protection of ecologically significant areas such as the Castle and the Bighorn in the Eastern Slopes, and the McClelland Lake wetlands in the mineable oil sands region, and Suffield, Milk River and Rumsey in the grassland and parkland regions.
Our Programs How We Do It
We share our expertise and participate in community-based and government-led processes to increase awareness and help people become environmental stewards who care about the health of our wilderness and wildlife through hikes, field trips, speaker series and classroom presentations.
Alberta Wilderness Resource Centre (Roger Creasey Memorial Library) is AWA’s resource centre, library and world class collection on all things wilderness in the province of Alberta. The Library is known to be a unique and vital collection that tells the history and provides a corporate memory of wilderness in Alberta. A specialized resource centre, the holdings are in large part one-of-a-kind and have supported many users from a wide demographic.
Alberta Wilderness Defenders Awards are dedicated to individuals who have inspired us with their love of Alberta’s wild lands, wild rivers and wildlife, and their efforts and achievements for conservation. If you would like to nominate an individual for this award, please contact AWA.
Great Gray Owl Awards are inspired in particular by three outstanding women and the significant contribution they have made over the past several years, this award will be presented annually as individuals meet the high standard of volunteerism, dedication and commitment of these inaugural award winners.
Martha Kostuch Annual Wilderness and Wildlife Lecture is an opportunity to present the ideas of researchers in a field related to conservation of wilderness sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness and Wildlife Trust. AWA invites speakers for our Martha Kostuch Annual Wilderness and Wildlife Lecture, to challenge AWA to seek new directions and ways to increase its effectiveness.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Our supporters and volunteers are crucial to our success. We do need your help!
Donate: Most of our funding depends on the generosity of individual donors.
Stewardship: Site visits, recording observations, submitting reports – time and locations vary and depend on active campaigns. Research specific issues, report writing and working with a staff member. Opportunities depend on active campaigns requiring help.
Membership: Members throughout the province are our eyes on wilderness areas in their regions. We depend on local contacts informing AWA staff of potential or active threats to Alberta’s wild places and providing us with local information that may otherwise be inaccessible to us. An AWA membership adds to the strength of our voice for wilderness. Members receive our journal, the Wild Lands Advocate; our wilderness e-newsletter; advance notice of hikes, talks, and other events; and member discounts.
- Building Maintenance & Gardening: If you are handy, love to putter in a garden, don’t mind picking up a paintbrush to patch here and there, would like to help with some seasonal cleaning, we need you! Please give us a call; we can be very flexible about the time required.
Displays and Tabling: Venues include markets, fairs, events, conferences, retail outlets, nature centres and parks visitor centres throughout Alberta. You will be committing time to help staff an AWA display and talk to the public about AWA’s work and campaigns. Selling AWA goods and signing up new members.
Casino Charity Event: There are 35 positions involved in running a casino, from chip runners to cashiers. If you have experience in working at a casino or would like to learn more about it, please call us. We work at a casino every 2 years or so.
Climb for Wilderness Annual Event on April 22, 2017: Opportunities exist in every part of the event from early planning phases to final clean up.
Wild West Gala Annual Event: Activities and participation by volunteers varies from office preparation months ahead of the event to event site preparation and hosting at the event.
Come out to learn with us on hikes, at evening programs, weekend workshops, clean-up trips, trail monitoring, trail maintenance, and maintenance of our Cottage School in Calgary's Hillhurst district. The rewards at the top of the tower are vistas that reveal our province's natural wealth, people who know about wilderness and wildlife and kindred spirits who care about tomorrow.