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2022-12-28 at 01:04 - comment by DEMOCRATIZE AB

Hi Alf

My experience from roaming the Eastern Slopes since the mid seventies is that when lands are clear cut the cattle are brought into many areas. The cattle would only roam in areas where there was water, pummeling many of the trees that are trying to return. The Westcastle River Valley is one such area where this occurred in the past where I did a lot of camping. Huge fat cattle maintained significant openings along the river before the Park came into place. The cattle competed with the wildlife for food. Predators would be shot. I would assume in the Park that no cattle are permitted now.

Valleys like the Westcastle were extremely productive for various types of lush vegetation for cattle to feed on. Some regions the soils are poorer and the cattle instead would choose to eat the best most nutrient rich plants which are usually found on better soils.

Bison could be re-introduced into the Eastern Slopes without man burning the landscape. Bison that were released into the Panther Valley have been found grazing in the high alpine elevations above treeline, like sheep and elk do, although the government burned much of the lower valley unnecessarily. The existing landscapes can support some bison. Burning of landscapes in past centuries certainly expanded the carrying capacity of bison on the land and attracted them to fresh vegetation after fires did their thing, but that was done for survival reasons in order to make hunting without guns easier.

If you look at time lapse Google Earth pictures from 20 to 30 years back to today, much of the existing old Forestry Reserve has not been reserved and instead has been clear cut. These areas could support bison as well. The bison will act like cattle and pummel many of the trees trying to regrow. Even more so. They will maintain open areas in order to feed. This is what is occurring in Yellow Stone and Wood Buffalo National Parks from my understanding. The wood buffalo or bison is basically the same genetics as the plains bison. If a plains bison is introduced into woodlands, it adapts and show all the characteristics of a wood buffalo or bison. These are tough animals and from an economic, health and environmental perspective we would be better of skiing with the buffalo than with the cattle.

Decades ago I skied with a massive heard of elk numbering over a thousand, possible as high as near 2000 head. The sound was incredible as I skied down a creek and they ran on the bank meadow. To hear bison do that while skiing would be absolutely spiritual. The only way this will ever occur is if we live in a legalized real democracy as the Provincial oligarchy government supported by the industrial cattle complex does not want the bison returned to Alberta landscapes. The cattle barons do not want to give the people the opportunity to hunt bison as that would harm their profits. The cattle barons make up all sorts of excuses not to return bison, such as they spread disease when in reality it is the invasive cattle that spread the diseases. You just have to take E.coli stream samples across Alberta to see that. I believe most Albertans would like to see the bison returned to a number of areas in Alberta, including the Cypress Hills, as it should be. We need to repair the mistakes of the past and benefit more Albertans economically by returning the bison. Skiers in parks with bison would likely love that once they learn how to deal with the animals similar to elk, moose, bears and mountain lions.

2022-12-27 at 17:45 - comment by aqua toque

^Nope. Solar cowbell.

2022-12-27 at 16:18 - comment by MaSid

Likely the sensor that tells the pump to stop pumping, but not like the float in the toilet.

2022-12-27 at 15:55 - comment by Shulamit

Thank you, Alf! I appreciate your taking the time to answer. Could you explain the white device that is hanging down into the tub?

2022-12-27 at 13:57 - comment by Alf Skrastins

The cattle are only grazing in the Public Land Use Zones between late June and mid-October, so there is no need to heat the water in the tubs. The solar panels merely provide the power for the electric water pumps.
Off-Stream watering is fairly common practice... just Google "Cows & Fish" for actual information.
The purpose of forestry on public land is to cut down trees for lumber. The logged areas are required to be re-planted within 2 years, so they do not provide grazing opportunities for very many years. The grasses that typically grow in pine and spruce forests tend not to be very palatable for cattle, so the grass that you see until the forest returns is not actually good grazing. If you want to see bison grazing in the foothills areas, we will first have to burn all of the forests, the way First Nations did in previous centuries. Bison eat grass, not pine trees.

2022-12-27 at 12:15 - comment by DEMOCRATIZE AB

Hello Alf,

Ah that makes sense. I forgot about cattle grazing on crown lands that displaces other low cost food sources for people. I assume the solar panel helps heat water to prevent freezing. I have never seen this done for cattle before. It must be expensive to move the water to the tubs.

Keeping cattle away from streams is essential to reduce e-coli in streams while helping out the vegetation along streams or watering holes to benefit fish. The water tubs would also allow cattle to graze further from water sources to access other grazing land. This would put less pressure on grazing land around creeks or water holes. Overgrazing by cattle is bad for the environment.

One of the reasons why clear cutting has expanded greatly in the last 20 years in the Eastern Slopes is to provide subsidized cattle range, just like they do when cutting down the Amazon Forests for cattle. I would rather see the bison roam in the eastern slopes on crown lands rather than cattle. This would be better for the environment, tourism and allow people to hunt bison for food. This would provide a big cost savings for people to obtain food and bring back First Nations traditions. Bison is also healthier to eat than cattle and wild bison does not need pharmaceuticals to keep them alive. They can survive where cattle can not, particularly in winter. They also require much less water to live than cattle. All around bison are much better than cattle.

I don't hunt but imagine hunting for bison on XC skis, during hunting season, to bring home to put in the freezer and give to people in need. That would make skiing far more economical. You can't do that with cattle because the Conservative cattle barons will come after you.

2022-12-27 at 09:20 - comment by Alf Skrastins

Those blue tubs are off-stream cattle water troughs. The solar panels provide the power to operate the water pump, which keeps the tub full of water in the summer. The purpose is to provide cattle with a source of drinking water that is away from the riparian area adjacent to the creeks.

2022-12-27 at 04:26 - comment by aqua toque

eSki proximity charger.

2022-12-27 at 00:00 - comment by DEMOCRATIZE AB

Howdy Shulamit,

Thanks for reporting and snapping a pic of those snow bins on your xc morning ski trip. That is very interesting as it appears someone is doing some type of science. I love science.

Somebody seems to want snow to be collected for reasons that I could only think would be related to snowfall/H20 equivalent contents and snowfall frequencies or chemical analysis. I would be surprised if the blue tub in your picture would be used for anything else. They don't look like feed bins for deer or moose. It would be interesting to see a close up of the sensor in the tub and to know if it goes to the bottom. This is a unique set up that I have never seen before.

I have always wanted to do chemical analysis of various layers in snowpacks as I have seen some real odd stuff in snow over the decades. I have noticed much dirtier/polluted snow in about the last decade or so. When I see upslope pollution clouds from Calgary hit the eastern slopes, it makes me curious of the pollution fallout that gets into our water supply eventually. Pollution fall out from Asia has me curious as well. The Arctic is suppose to be highly polluted. The higher the altitude the more pollution fallout in snowpacks. Here is one such article talking about that:


With the war in Ukraine, we would likely be getting trackable fallout from the war pollution. Fallout from volcanos would also be trackable as well as forest fires. Smoke from the Auzzie fires 3 years ago is apparently still circulating the globe, causing fallout and the particulate from it in the atmosphere would be blocking the sun intensity somewhat and cooling the planet slightly. Same with the BC fires along with the volcanos blasting off sulphur dioxide. This would counter greenhouse gases being dumped into the atmosphere by man, natural causes and by fires making climate models difficult to be accurate. Such activity will have effects on our winter weather as well.

When I worked down near Waterton National Park 20+ years ago I remember a massive snowfall in later April one year. We were walking over 10 foot high chain link fences in the snow at oil and gas facilities. There were 2 separate snow layers 2 feet deep each that were a baby blue color. I never saw snow that color before. I assume it was high water content, but I could not be sure. It was highly dense snow though. That snowpack made for great skiing on the May long week-end on Haig Ridge that year along with Middle Kootenay Pass.

When I used to do a lot of sunny Alberta summer skiing on glaciers in the 1980's and 1990's, the University of Saskatchewan was doing a lot of studies on snowpacks and glaciers. We need scientists to study our snow packs for chemical contents that harm aquatic life and irrigation waters. Changes in chemical composition of irrigation waters can have effects on soil and the ability of farm soils to hold moisture. Chemicals in snow can change the PH of water and kill aquatic life, as well as make it more difficult for food crops to uptake nutrients.

To get an idea of pollution fallout in Alberta go to windy.com and hit PM2.5 on the right side menu to get an idea of particulate fall out on Alberta that we are sucking up while skiing. In recent weeks, it appears Alberta is creating huge amounts of particulate with industrial activities that are occurring in the northern part of the Province where there is little accountability. The intensity of the particulate is some of the highest in the world. When the wind comes from the north, it falls out on us. Even a place on the northern end of Baffin Island has 2.5PM levels that I would have never expected and it makes me wonder what is going on up there.

The sulphur dioxide from Mauna Loa seems to have greatly subsided now so we should not be sucking that into our lungs out skiing or getting funky looking colored skies.

The U of BC has built a mobile air monitor pollution truck that drives around measuring pollution near ground level or nose level. We need a few of these air pollution monitor trucks in Alberta. Several years back, the few air quality measuring instruments the AB government has were located about 50 feet above the ground rather than measuring pollutants closer to our nose heights. I have no idea if this has changed now. Go figure government science sometimes! Our Conservative Government does not like to measure pollution or measure it accurately in Alberta judging from past lawsuits over some industrial activities in the recent past. It is usually universities or environmental groups that do some of the more remote monitoring, when money is available, as they care more about our sacred environmental gift of life, air, that fills our lungs skiing (other sacred environmental gifts of life include water, that hydrates life and makes snow, soil, that feeds us and the sun which energizes all life + solar panels).

Push to expand snow study science in Alberta. Contact your MLA to do so.

Democratize AB
Legalize Real Democracy Party (.ca)

WBC - Sunrise ski

Report Submitted by Shulamit
(trip) Date: Monday Dec 26, 2022

Submitted: Monday Dec 26, 2022 at 20:04


A pair of happy skiers


Sunrise ski today, starting around 9 am, with the parking lot near-empty. I can't remember the temperature for sure, but I think it was around -2 deg C. Skied around Moose Loop counter-clockwise, connecting to Mountain View. Grooming and tracks were holding up very well. Kudos and much gratitude to the hard-working groomers at WBC.

Mid-ski, the snow softened and clumped on our skis, but this was only in some isolated places. We caught some warm air pockets (about five times in all) - sudden phantom touches of warm wind on our faces. That was really neat.

It was +2 deg C when we departed around noon. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised that the trails had held up to the warmer temperatures so well. Forecast is for snow tomorrow morning, so that should freshen up WBC anew.

I have a question about the snow bins along the trails. We noted the solar panels and sensors in the bins, and are wondering about their purpose. Perhaps someone in this online community can explain. I'm attaching a photo below.

Total distance: 15.00 Km


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