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Land Reclamation Legislation in Alberta 

Legistlation clipartAlberta was the first province in Canada to legislate land reclamation.  Through the mid 1950s and early 1960s, Alberta's landscape was dotted with unreclaimed land sites, abandoned oil and gas well sites and coal mines.  If action had not been taken, the number of these sites would have increased.  In 1963, the provincial government passed the Surface Reclamation Act to ensure that reasonable reclamation standards were the main concern.  The Land Conservation and Reclamation Council (LCRC) were the group responsible for enforcing the department standards.  In 1973, the concept of conservation was introduced, bringing about new legislation in the form of the Land Surface Conservation and Reclamation Act.  With this new Act, large operations such as coal mines, oil sands sites, pipelines and sand and gravel pits were regulated.  The Act required operators to submit their plans for conservation and reclamation and obtain approval from the LCRC prior to the development of a project.

In 1978, the Act was further amended to legally require operatorsPlanting trees clipart to use conservation methods such as stripping topsoil and storing it separately for later replacement. In 1993, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation were enacted to replace the Land Surface Conservation and Reclamation Act.  The Departments of Environment and Agriculture, Food and Rural Development monitor project development, construction, operations, changes to plans and abandonment.  Before a company is free from responsibility for a land disturbance, their conservation and reclamation efforts are given a final inspection.  Those who "pass" are issued a certificate indicating that their site meets or exceeds standards.  Those who do not qualify for this certificate must modify their work and efforts until approved standards are met.

A program was in place from 1978 to 1994 to clean up sites on municipal and crown lands that were disturbed and abandoned prior to the legislation.  The Land Reclamation Division of Alberta Environment managed to program, which included research so that companies had the best means to return the land to a useful state.  Support for this work was provided through the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

For more information regarding land reclamation and conservation in Alberta, contact the Land Management office at Alberta Environment or visit the Alberta Environment website!

Reprinted from Focus On Land Reclamation  (1999) with permission of Alberta Environment.

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