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Not many surprises in mandate letter from Alberta premier: Loewen

July 27, 2023  By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alberta’s Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen. Photo courtesy Government of Alberta.

Mandate letters have been issued to various ministers by Premier Danielle Smith, with Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks, receiving one last week.

Loewen told the News there weren’t many surprises in the letter and the Ministry had already been working on many of the items.

It was unexpected to see permit and licence approval times being shortened on the letter, however. It had been on the previous one and the Ministry says it had done extensive work in this area, shortening some approval times from months to weeks or from two or three years to under one year.

“In the end, it was good to see it again because I know we have to keep that focus going,” stated Loewen. “It’s to make that process as short as possible.”


Smith has called up Forestry and Parks to plan for more than 900 new campsites and some initial reviews have been done by the Ministry to discover where to increase campsites or add new campgrounds.

“We look at (usage) off the database and that will drive a lot of it right there because we know where we are always full and we know where we always have some openings,” he said. “We want to focus where we are always full.”

Nature-based solutions for carbon sequestration was also in the letter. Smith calls upon the Ministry to develop a plan with industry and use active forestry and grasslands management techniques toward this end.

“We know our forestry industry and our grazing land does sequester carbon and I think sometimes it’s not appreciated as much as it should be,” explained Loewen. “I think sometimes the federal government doesn’t recognize that, and we need to make sure we do our best to make sure the whole world knows what we are doing there.”

While the conversion of native grasslands to agricultural lands is part of the issue, the mandate letter is more focused on healthy grazing.

“Hundreds of years ago we had the buffalo that were out there grazing and now we have cattle there grazing,” said Loewen. “Grazing it properly and allowing that grass to grow again does that job of carbon sequestration.”

Using rotational grazing and other techniques provides a nature-based carbon sequestration solution, rather than allowing the area to be over-grazed. Under-grazing is also a problem as the grass isn’t utilized and it is the regrowth that provides additional carbon sequestration.

Attracting young Albertans (16-24 years) into ministry-specific jobs was one of the other items in the letter. The tourism industry is always facing labour shortages, particularly in parks and associated businesses, and the goal is to provide pathways so skilled labour is available for those areas.

While the forestry industry historically doesn’t have much trouble attracting labour, Loewen said they want to work with the Advanced Education Ministry to focus on creating opportunities for the skilled tradespeople required in that industry.

Samantha Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Medicine Hat News. 

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