Recently, we have heard from several West Bragg Creek trail users, a concern with respect to potential timber harvesting of recreational trails, identified in the draft 2021 Forest Management Plan. The draft 2021 forest management plan was posted for public comment on our corporate website on June 5, 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 of 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 trails SLS built for forestry in West Bragg Creek that are now recreational trails, along with many kilometers of trails, successfully protected having been adjacent to timber harvesting. In fact, a significant amount of the trails, within the mixed use area of Kananaskis, originated from a legacy of commercial or industrial use including trading routes, coal 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.
- Potential adjacent harvesting in the West Bragg Creek area is not planned to commence before 2026.
- 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 process is a three step process, for stakeholders to provide input to assist in the development of integration strategies designed to protect trails.
- Operational harvest plans, undergo two separate GoA approval processes, prior to commencement by SLS.
- All harvest areas are legislatively required to be reforested.
For more information, please contact Allen Mottet, Harvest Planner at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-851-3339.