Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Spray Lakes Sawmills FSC certification review 2014

About 14 years ago Spray Lakes Sawmills was awarded a Forest Management Agreement to conduct commercial logging in Kananaskis, formerly known as the Forestry. In 2006 they developed their Detailed Forest Manangement Plan (DFMP). At that time Doug Sephton, that's me, owner of Bragg Creek - Gateway to Kananaskis (this website), and many local residents mounted a spirited opposition to their plan (tag-a-tree and in an attempt to get Sustainable Resource Development to rethink this ridiculous plan to clearcut the forest in this highly valued natural area that was so important to residents of Calgary and the economy of Bragg Creek. We failed. Then a couple of years ago SLS won FSC certification after at first being denied. Try, and try again. The FSC is an industry offshoot. They have some credibility, but, after all, they are hired by SLS to audit their operations. Anyway, the SLS certification is up for review to see if they have complied with the conditions set out in their approval under the FSC, that is to improve their public consultation. This is my letter to the FSC auditor:

27 October 2014

Doug Sephton
toloko - Design, Marketing and Communications
Box 781, Bragg Creek, AB. T0L 0K0

To: Mr. Brian Callaghan RPF, EP(EMSLA)
FSC assessor hired by Spray Lake Sawmills

RE: FSC review of Spray Lakes Sawmills

I operate the Bragg Creek – Gateway to Kananaskis web site located at This site is intended to help people learn about the community and encourage visitors to enjoy the trails and nature in Kananaskis. While here, I encourage them to patronize local businesses. Kananaskis is a critical part of our local economy.

I am a graphic designer and web developer. I also created the, tag-a-tree and web sites. Those sites focused attention on the threat Spray Lakes Sawmills (SLS) logging of this highly valued and frequently visited natural area posed for local businesses, our real estate values and our recreational activities. I’m a builder. I use digital bits to build web sites and wood for projects around my home. I have no problem with logging, but I have a big problem with logging in Kananaskis.
Kananaskis was created in 1975 when a lot of resources were used to develop trails and facilities in an area previously known as the Forestry. It seemed like a grand vision – to preserve and develop a wilderness attraction ½ an hour west of Calgary. But subsequent governments, greedy for resource revenue, have abandoned facilities and let the area deteriorate while industrial development continues to grow. When SLS was awarded its Forest Management Agreement (FMA), the government said that forestry was the primary user in this multi-use region. They failed to recognize that Albertans were under the impression that it was primarily theirs to enjoy and they flood into the area by the hundreds of thousands. Kananaskis administrators said that it is visited more often than any other recreation area in Alberta.

When SLS was developing their Detailed Forest Management Plan in 2006 the government received hundreds of letters in opposition to it and a petition with over a thousand signatures. Many people expressed their concern in a public review published in the plan.  All of these concerns were ignored or dismissed. In a video, produced last year, one SLS official said, in effect, we have the FMA and we’ll continue our operations despite acknowledging significant opposition in and around Bragg Creek. Last year they drove their logging trucks on Township Rd. 232 in contravention of an agreement not to do so. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and SLS play Mutt and Jeff when dealing with the public. From January to March this year ESRD burned SLS wood waste in open pit fires little more than 100 metres from homes in West Bragg Creek when they should have used incinerators. Many residents complained of discomfort and adverse medical affects. That case is before the court.

In 2005 ESRD claimed that SLS needed to log Kananaskis due to a threat of forest fire. They delayed that plan and then switched to citing the pine beetle infestation as the reason behind the logging. Entomologists said that the beetle would have little effect. When they were proven right, ESRD went back to wildfires to justify logging and backed it up with a FireSmart plan where cutblocks look more like commercial logging than firebreaks.

This response to a persistent and passionate defense of our highly valued forest is disingenuous at best and a pack of lies at worst. They, and I assume you, want reasoned and detailed technical arguments in opposition to this wrong-headed policy of wreaking havoc on our forest. I’d love to be able to provide highly technical hydrological reports on siltation, nutrient loading, flooding and other impacts of logging on a critical watershed for a city of over a million people. I’d love to be able to prove empirically that logging, road building and industrial development in general is having a significant impact on wildlife habitat. I can't. But, I know that to be true as much as I suspect that logging is partially responsible for the empty commercial spaces and lost business in the hamlet of Bragg Creek. I know that I can’t stop the logging, but I see no reason for them to be able to point to FSC certification to justify their ongoing assault on our local economy, the people of Alberta and the wildlife in our treasured forest.

Doug Sephton