The County of Stettler will fence off an elderly gravel pit poised for reclamation to prevent problematic cattle from accessing it. The decision was made at the Oct. 12 regular meeting of council.
During the council request for information portion of the agenda Coun. Ernie Gendre asked to discuss gravel pit reclamation. He stated that he’d never been to the gravel pits around the Donalda area, so he drove up there about a week ago and took some photos, which he provided to county staff.
Readers should note the Village of Donalda is located at the intersection of Hwy. #53 and Sec. Hwy. #850.
Gendre noted that after seeing the pits in person he had some concerns about them, including whether or not these pits would pass the provincial government’s reclamation process in their current condition.
Gendre pointed out one of the pits has a large rock and dirt pile on it and that the pile appears to have “everything” in it. Gendre asked that when it comes down to reclaiming an old gravel pit, are such piles allowed? He also wanted to know if Stettler County was going to end up in a predicament over this.
He further asked if the county has a written agreement from the landowner releasing the municipality from responsibility.
“I do have concerns that if we don’t have these cleaned up, it’s going to come back to haunt us,” said Gendre.
County Chief administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy responded that on one of the gravel pits in question the county has a stockpile agreement and that before going through the reclamation process all of that land will be restored.
Referring to a different gravel pit in the Donalda area, Cassidy stated the county is trying to reclaim it but it has been heavily pastured which has resulted in weed problems. Cassidy stated cattle are on the land and trying to access a water source.
Cassidy stated if the county can’t keep cattle away from the reclamation area, some action may need to be taken.
During discussion county staff noted there are several gravel pits in that area but only one has an open reclamation application right now; it was confirmed county staff are working to clear weeds.
Coun. Dave Grover stated he felt that the county should fence the area off that has the dugout to prevent cattle accessing it if that’s what it takes to get the land to a reclaimed state. Grover noted this old pit has been on the county’s books for 20 years and costs ratepayers about $2,500 a year and something needs to be done about it.
Grover added that if the dugout isn’t accessible the landowner can haul water which a lot of producers have to do.
Coun. James Nibourg noted Stettler County’s responsibility for reclamation is to put the land back in the condition it was in before the gravel pit was developed.
“From that standpoint I think we did our job,” said Nibourg, who added he wanted to see better photos of the property in question.
Coun. Justin Stevens asked if Stettler County leases that land. During discussion it seems based on comments made that the gravel pit is on private land but the pit itself is Stettler County’s responsibility.
Reeve Larry Clarke noted the amount of weeds showing in the photos were concerning him.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution to fence off the dugout in the former grave pit in question.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter