The Suncor-Winagami Lake Conservation Project 2003-2004
Cedar Chittenden and Ed Kolodychuk
The Suncor-Winagami Project (2003) was a pilot project initiated by Suncor Energy Inc. who requested staff with Alberta Parks and Protected Areas to recommend a nongovernment, non-profit conservation organization that could purchase land to offset the hectares impacted by Suncor's Oil Sands Operations in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Alberta Conservation Association was subsequently identified as the candidate organization by Alberta Parks and Protected Areas and was asked to submit a proposal to Suncor Energy Inc. so that they could be considered as the lead organization to secure land. Given its broad conservation mandate and its expertise with land securement, the Alberta Conservation Association was subsequently selected as the lead organization to secure land to offset the areas impacted by Suncor's Oil Sands Operations in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Through collaborative efforts with Alberta Parks and Protected Areas, and the Suncor Energy Foundation, the ACA secured 470 acres of land adjacent to Winagami Lake in northwest Alberta. These purchases were preceded by intensive communication efforts to contact all landowners and lessees of lakeshore parcels in July of 2003 to provide them with information about habitat conservation and the land securement project. Fifty percent of those contacted agreed to sell their land, which in the future will be incorporated and protected within the Winagami Lake Wildland and Provincial Parks. Since ACA began conservation work at Winagami Lake in 1985, over eighty percent of the once grazed shoreline has been conserved for wildlife and fisheries.