We want to thank stakeholder groups and interested parties for taking the time to review the draft 2021 Forest Management Plan (FMP) and providing input. The draft 2021 FMP was posted for public comment on our corporate website on June 5, 2020 and the period to provide input closed last Wednesday on July 22, 2020.

Spray Lake Sawmills is dedicated to protecting recreational trails and integrating our operations to peacefully coexist with recreationists. In fact, some of our Spray Lake Sawmills staff and contractors are avid trail users. The Alberta forest management planning process is driven by finding a balance between multiple or mixed uses known as integrated land management.

In preparing the 2021 draft Forest Management Plan, we held several public forest value workshops and we heard of the importance of recreational trails on our operating area. The message we heard is familiar and it’s a message we have taken to heart.

As a result of what we heard from trail users, the Company added language to Value 29, to specify the importance of integrating both harvesting and recreational trails.

Value 29, along with all the other 32 values, serve as the performance monitoring mechanism for the 2021 Forest Management Plan. All of the plans values are summarized in the information package and page 12 summarizes value 29.

Under the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, the West Bragg Creek area is zoned for multiple use, and in our view, trails and timber harvesting are compatible. This is evidenced by the dozens of forestry roads that were purposefully left by SLS in the nineties as a result of consultation with local users in the West Bragg Creek area.  These forestry roads are now recreational trails and form the base of the trail system.

Since the nineties many kilometers of trails have been successfully protected adjacent to timber harvesting in the West Bragg area and other areas where SLS operates. A significant amount of the trails, in both the mixed use area and the protected area of Kananaskis, originated from a legacy of commercial or industrial use including trading routes, coal exploration/mining, ranching, oil and gas and fire-fighting.

As in the past, there are many opportunities ahead, for recreational users and forest management operations to work together. The following facts, will hopefully reassure trail users that there is a process in place to protect trails for current and future generations:

  • Alberta forestry operators are required under  the Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Ground Rules, section 5.2: that forest operator shall work with local stakeholder groups to address concerns that have been identified. Operators shall restore designated trails and their associated watercourse crossings that are affected by their operations. Acceptable restoration involves bringing the site back to the condition it was in prior to industrial use.
  • Spray Lake Sawmills is a collaborating signatory of the West Bragg Creek Land Users Agreement – Date: April 18, 2011 Re: West Bragg Creek All Season Trails Plan (WBCASTP) and will be working diligently to address concerns and coordinate future activities.
  • Beginning in May of 2024, a collaborative planning session will be available for West Bragg Creek trail users and other interested parties. The collaborative planning session is held for stakeholders to provide input to assist in the development of harvest design and recreation integration strategies.
  • Operational harvest plans undergo two separate GoA approval processes, prior to commencement by SLS. Additionally, Alberta Environment and Parks have staff responsible for integrating activities.
  • The hamlet of Bragg Creek is often considered one of the most at risk communities, for a high severity wildfire in Alberta.  
  • The last round of timber harvesting within the West Bragg Creek area was completed in coordination with provincial FireSmart plans designed to protect the hamlet of Bragg Creek and surrounding community from catastrophic wildfire.
  • Potential adjacent harvesting in the West Bragg Creek area is not planned to commence before 2026.

For more information, please contact Allen Mottet, Harvest Planner at allen.mottet@spraylakesawmills.com