In 2000 the Alberta Government awarded Spray Lakes Sawmills with a Forest Mananagement Agreement for the southern Alberta foothills including Kananaskis, the Ghost Valley and all the way down to Crowsnest Pass. The territory includes Bragg Creek and the Ghost. These two communities have worked long and hard to preserve the natural landscape around them.

People got together and mounted campaigns to oppose adoption of the Detailed Forest Management Plans (DFMP) Spray Lakes needs to begin their commercial clearcut logging operations. Here in Bragg Creek we wrote over a thousand letters to the Premiers and the Ministers of Sustainable Resource Development. We collected over 1200 names on a petition, about 50 people rallied in downtown Calgary with signs and speakers, we held information meetings in Calgary and locally to learn about the issues, we attended workshops sponsored by the government and the company to express our concerns and ask them not to approve the DFMP.

We built web sites (Save Kananaskis), used social media and published pamphlets to raise awareness. A movie titled “If the Trees Could Talk” was produced. We met with politicians and they in turn took our concerns to the legislature. We conducted surveys and published the data collected. We enlisted support from outdoor activity businesses, local businesses and the creative community. We collaborated with non-profit groups. We made 7,000 Tag-A-Tree signs; thin slices of fallen trees that we printed with our slogan “Save Kananaskis – It’s worth it”. We asked people to hang the signs on trees and fence posts in Calgary, Kananaskis and locally. They did.

We held guided excursions to learn about the natural landscape. We had a booth at the folk festival and at mountain bike race events. We held outdoor public events with food, entertainment and speakers. We made large roadsigns and installed them near the entrances to Kananaskis and along highway 22. We wrote articles for newspapers and did TV interviews. Hundreds of people were involved. They donated time, energy and resources needed to accomplish all of this. We never asked for money. By the time we finally got the Save Kananaskis Wildland Society registered the DFMP had been awarded and interest waned. The society never held a meeting. So we never had a formal organization – it was just a bunch of concerned citizens expressing themselves.

The Ghost Valley Community is currently waging the same kind of campaign to oppose adoption of a DFMP for their area. I recently got news from them with the following:

“I was told that SLS may consider meeting with community members, but first we need to fill out an “application.”  These are the questions we must answer as part of the application.”

To best organize a productive DFMP meeting for your community we will need to collect the following information:

  • 1) What is your group’s name and its mission statement?
  • 2) Who is the group’s director, representative(s) or its managing officers?
  • 3) Who does the group represent and how many members are there?
  • 4) How has your group been collecting surveys?
  • 5) When was the group created?
  • 6) Is the group formally recognized by the government or within your community?
  • 7) Does the group have a website?
  • 8) Is the group affiliated with the anonymous, Stop Ghost Clear-cut Facebook campaign?
  • 9) What is the group’s geographical boundary?
  • 10) What does the group hope to accomplish with the session?
  • 11) How many group members will be attending?”

AAAAArrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhh!! WTF.

Maybe SLS needs to know how many people to accommodate, but if they want to operate in good faith, as they are required to do, they need to reach out to the community and reassure them that they are opperating responsibly. If they want to harvest resouces on public land they must be held to account by the communities in which they operate.

Visit the Stop the Ghost Clearcut Facebook page