Al Lakusta was a junior high science teacher in Grande Prairie in the 1970s. As part of his lessons, he took students prospecting for fossils at Pipestone Creek. The fossils they found were usually molluscs, like clams and oysters. One day in 1974, Al came across dinosaur fossils when he ventured farther upstream than usual. He looked along the banks for the source of the fallen fossil material, and luckily spotted a ledge about 10 metres above the creek. He clambered up the bank and located the fossil-rich layer. He sent samples of the fossils to the Provincial Museum of Alberta, and consulted with scientists from the Grande Prairie Regional College to learn more about his find. Palaeontologists, including Dr. Philip Currie, were then involved to help identify the bones.
Written by: Todd Kristensen, Regional Archaeologist
Most archaeology in Alberta happens in advance of industry development when consultants are hired to ensure that archaeological sites are avoided or excavated prior to ground disturbance. For the last decade, about half of the new sites recorded in Alberta are found during forestry programs when consultants look for archaeological material in advance of tree harvesting and logging road construction. The contribution that forestry-based archaeology makes in Alberta is large.
Why do forestry operators have to hire archaeological consultants?
Industry developers are generally required by law, through the Historical Resources Act, to submit development plans to the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, who then reviews the footprints for overlaps with known archaeological sites or areas with potential for archaeological material. Forestry is one of Alberta’s largest industries in terms of spatial area: about 87,000 hectares are harvested each year and over 2 million hectares have been commercially logged in Alberta since 1990. Archaeological sites in harvest areas can be disturbed during road construction, during logging (by heavy machinery that cuts trees or transports them), and by site preparation practices that relate to reforestation.
In many areas in Alberta, the ground is intentionally disturbed after harvest to encourage regrowth of desired seedlings: about 18,000 hectares of land in Alberta are annually subjected to mechanical site preparation by forestry operators. Archaeological sites in Alberta’s Boreal Forest are often quite shallow (within 30 cm from the surface) meaning that forestry can have large impacts on the province’s preserved heritage. In the big picture, the vast majority of Alberta’s forests and all archaeological material in the province are public resources. For these reasons, forestry operators are responsible for detecting and avoiding archaeological sites during development.
Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Survey
From the Alberta government’s Historic Resources Management Branch, the Spring 2022 edition of the Listing of Historic Resources is now available. The Listing is a geospatial product showing lands that are known to contain or likely to contain historic resources (i.e. archaeological sites, historic sites, palaeontological sites, Indigenous heritage sites) in Alberta. The Listing is designed to be used by developers, land agents and other professionals in the cultural resources professional sphere. Publishing the Listing allows us to more quickly communicate concerns about historic resources on the landscape, while also protecting some of the confidentiality of historic resource sites. Even though the Listing is targeted for professionals, anyone can access it. A new edition of the Listing each year in the spring and fall.
Categories used in notations in the Listing of Historic Resources.