Drilling letter ‘misleading’ by Bob Demulder, regional vice president, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region, March 13, 2012, The Cochrane Eagle
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has been working in Alberta for more than 40 years. In that time, we have completed more than 200 projects that protect more than 185,000 acres (75,000 hectares) of the province’s most ecologically significant land and water. A recent letter to the Eagle (“Reader questions Hutchinson drilling”), leaves a misleading impression of our work. The Nature Conservancy of Canada does not own the land referred to in the letter. We work with the landowner by way of a legal agreement to conserve and maintain the conservation values of the land. As a result, NCC is not in a position to either allow or disallow drilling activity on the land.
In Alberta the vast majority of subsurface rights rest with the Crown. The issue of surface conservation values versus subsurface rights represents a unique challenge to all land trusts, including NCC. Under provincial law we are unable to ignore surface access requests. They will eventually be granted without landowner consent by the Surface Rights Board. Given this, NCC chooses to work proactively to engage resource companies in our planning and conservation activities. To be clear, our preferred option is to redirect any development away from our properties — but that is not always a workable option. In cases where avoidance cannot be achieved, we have developed detailed protocols that encourage resource companies to follow responsible practices when they have the right to access property. These protocols provide strategies to reduce impact and avoid sensitive areas and all companies to date have worked with us to implement them.
[Refer also to: Reader questions Hutchinson drilling ]