Advocates for a healthy environment are taking note as tomorrow, lawyers representing the Lake Louise ski resort in Alberta will appear in court to defend the company after they aledgedly cut down whitebark pine trees located on the side of one of their ski runs that are endangered.
As many as 39 of the trees were chopped down, and the company is facing charges under the federal Species At Risk Act as a result.
Whitebark pine is endangered because of the mountain pine beetles infestation, fire, and climate change. It is essential to the survival of numerous different plants and animals.
According to resort spokesman Dan Markham, the trees were cut down to improve the safety of skiers using the run and the workers were unaware of the significance of the trees they were taking down.
“The employees had not been directed by us at that time and there wasn’t a permit to do that particular [work],” said Markham. “A month later, when we did our walk-around with Parks Canada, we noticed that it looked like a number of these trees had been [cut].”
The company had tried to appeal the court date, claiming that it took too long to bring charges against them, however a judge denied their request.
According to Shaun Fluker, environmental law professor at the University of Calgary, in cases such as this the majority are settled long before they hit a court room.
“This whole process of prosecuting under [the Species At Risk Act] is very cumbersome,” he stated.