County of Stettler agriculture board hears path clearing is for safety purposes

File photo
Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Ag Services Board (ASB) heard at its regular meeting May 25 a project to clear deadfall along walking paths at a popular lake is being conducted for many reasons, including safety and because some in the lake community requested it.

The ASB is comprised of county councillors and chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

Manager of Agricultural Services Quentin Beaumont, during his regular report to the board, described his department’s work on clearing deadfall from walking paths at Buffalo Lake.

“Buffalo Lake lakeside pathway clean up has been a priority, we have removed some standing dead trees that have posed a risk of falling on the pathway or on someone, with that, there has been some concern regarding rocks being a tripping hazard on the pathway, so a plan was developed to make the path easier to travel for our maintenance crews,” stated Beaumont in his report.

“The county borrowed a tree chipper from the Town of Stettler to assist with chipping all branches four inch and less, the larger limbs and trunks are to remain onsite to decompose for the other tress and shrubs to benefit from.

“The mulch was also left onsite to breakdown for decomposing. Tree chipping was also done in other parts of the county and will continue as time allows.”

During the discussion Beaumont also noted the pathway was cleared to the extent to make it passable for county maintenance equipment.

Board member Justin Stevens acknowledged the pathway is getting cleaned up but Stevens asked Beaumont if he could notify the councillor anytime something like the pathway clean-up is scheduled in case the public contacts him for information.

Stevens also asked why some trees were knocked down at an odd level, four to five inches above grade, which he stated could be a tripping hazard.

Beaumont answered that the county staff can’t cut any lower with chainsaws because of the risk of hitting rocks, and that he is looking at options regarding those concerns.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Beaumont.

Beaumont noted there are about 50 tree stumps that need to be removed and a lot of basketball sized rocks.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy clarified that the Buffalo Lake Community Association has asked the county for four years to conduct the pathway clean-up so county council finally directed it be done.

She stated the county staff is trying to leave the environmental reserve land as natural as possible.
Cassidy also stated the county’s been on the receiving end of verbal attacks and insults over the pathway clean-up even though some in the Buffalo Lake community requested the clean-up.

“We’re doing it and all of a sudden we have some very unhappy people out there,” said Cassidy.
She added the clean-up probably won’t last anyway because the lake is continually pushing rocks up onto the pathway.

Board member James Nibourg stated critics don’t realize the county staff put a lot of thought and planning into this project and the project was requested by some residents of Buffalo Lake.
Board member Stevens responded some Buffalo Lake residents didn’t envision how broad the project would be.

Reeve Larry Clarke noted he thought it was understood the clearing had to be conducted to a certain width to ensure county maintenance equipment could fit.

Beaumont added that the county staff are only felling large popular trees that are dead or dying and that create a safety hazard and that staff are not removing Saskatoon bushes.

“I didn’t just willy nilly pick trees to fall,” said Beaumont.

Councillors unanimously accepted the report as information.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.