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That is a lot of Nodding Donkeys…

Fracking wells on Highway 567 outside of Calgary.

That is the first thing that came to mind when I took a drive down Highway 567, just 20 minutes northwest of Calgary, which locals call Frack Alley. “But that’s not even the worst of it!” says a local resident who moved to the area a few years ago for her retirement. “In a few weeks, this single lane highway will be filled with industry trucks driving at hundreds of miles per hour. It is so dangerous. I don’t even use it.”

But that is not the only reason she avoids the road. “I can’t even breathe when I drive down Frack Alley in high season. Right now it is not as bad.” Residents and local ranchers have experienced hair loss, burning scalps, asthma, cancers, and itchy eyes.

“Our water tastes different now. I don’t drink it,” says a local rancher who has lived in the area for decades. She and her husband have had their water tested, but because some of the fracking chemicals are protected, they do not even know what to ask conventional water testing to look for. They ranchers brought me around their ranch and pointed to the numerous sloughs which used to be filled with geese, bluebirds, swallows, and swans. “There are no birds here anymore.”

Her husband, pointed to a cow in the middle of the slough, explaining that the cows no longer drink water from the wells and “instead they drink from the muddy sloughs.” He explains that they are calving late and that young deer fawns haven’t returned in the past few years, and the moose calf population have dropped by about 50%. “The animals know there is something wrong.”

I fear that this is just the beginning of some of the stories that are to come.

Density of Coal Bed Methane fracking wells outside of Rosebud, AB

On Tuesday I went to Lochend County and Rosebud, two communities outside of Calgary, which are being inundated by fracking and the oil and gas industry. Today, I am joining Rising Tide-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories on their Building Resistance Tour: Conversations About Fracking and the Pacific Trails Pipeline (link http://risingtide604.ca/?p=578). I am joining them in Prince George after they had made presentations in four high school classes in Kamloops, visited Secewepmc people opposing proposed mine, and the local Kamloops Council of Canadians chapter.

Follow our updates: Council of Canadians blogs, and twitter (@CouncilofCDNs) and http://www.flickr.com/photos/councilofcanadians/

Rising Tide blogs at www.risingtide604.ca and follow them on twitter: @RisingTide604 and flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/risingtide604

Over the next week will be visiting communities that are along the route of the Pacific Trails Pipeline as well as communities in northeastern B.C. that are impacted by fracking and gas extraction.