Clearcut Logging Planned for Kananaskis West Bragg Creek and the Elbow Valley:
Information and Action Meeting
Report on the June 15, 2006 meeting at the Bragg Creek Centre.
About 320 people heard several speakers talk about the concern over logging in Kananaskis. On Thursday, June 15, 2006 the Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition presented a picture of increasing pressure on a sensitive wilderness area.
Dr. Brad Stelfox showed how population growth, and increased recreational, industrial and agricultural use is overwhelming the natural landscape. His charts and slides showed dramatic increases in all of these activities. As he addressed each, he used a series of slides that overlayed the number or size of people, roads, well sites, pipelines, cattle and logging operations through the years. For example, the population growth slide had concentric blobs radiating out from the centre of Calgary from its origins in the late 1800's, it will grow right up to the eastern border of Kananaskis in 2060. As residents of this area, it's our worst nightmare - trees replaced by high-density housing.
His point; the current growth path for each of these sectors is unsustainable. A new land use policy is needed.
Dr. Ralph Cartar delivered a passionate argument against further logging in Kananaskis. Asking us to imagine what the Google Earth satellite image of the area would look like when the clear-cuts proposed by Spray Lakes Sawmills are overlayed on top of the existing clear-cuts. The dark green of the standing forests would become patches of light green.
He debunked the need to cut down all the trees to prevent forest fire, saying the logging debris and the young trees that would grow over time would be equally susceptible to fire. He said we need to adopt the FireSmart program to remove trees within 10 metres of our homes, thin the trees, cut fire break barriers and develop prevention and management plans to respond to the inevitable fires that occur.
His point; the calculation comparing the benefits of logging against the economic, social and environmental costs, just doesn't add up.
Eric Lloyd and Peter Tucker offered a solution. They propose to have the unprotected area of eastern Kananaskis from the Sheep River district up to the northern border, at Jumpingpound, designated a Wildland Park.
Their idea was well received, as those in attendance were clearly concerned about the prospect of a landscape of stumps. They were looking for solutions and there was a lot of discussion about what to do. Everyone I talk to always asks "What can I do?" It isn't often I hear those words. In response, the BCEC organizers asked people to write to the Premier, their MLA, as well as the Ministers of Sustainable Resources, Community Development, Environment and the company as well. The BCEC continues to work to put pressure on the government to change the land use policy governing eastern Kananaskis.
The Wildland park has real appeal, but the solution is simpler, As a new government is formed under a new leader, jurisdiction over access to K-Country should become the exclusive jurisdiction of Alberta Community Development, Parks and Protected Areas. They've demonstrated that they are quite capable of managing the area and placing the preservation of our natural heritage above all else.
Although Ralph recognizes the problem logging poses for the local economy, that issue wasn't well addressed at the meeting. If recreational users and people who go there to admire the beauty and tranquility of the area decide that industrial activity has spoiled their experience, the businesses that cater to them will suffer. Even the Wildland Park idea is a bit problematic as you can't have front-country campgrounds or other physical installations in a Wildland Park. Recreational use would be restricted. Maybe that's a good thing, but not everyone will agree.