Sunday, 30 November 2008

More logging in Crowsnest Pass

Once again many residents of Crowsnest Pass and area are very concerned about logging operations to be carried out by the Spray Lakes corporation in the Allison Creek area. Just to remind you Spray Lakes bought out the Atlas sawmill operation, located just west of Coleman, a few years back. Their only reason for the purchase was to acquire timber rights. Atlas mill was closed and any logs harvested in the area by Spray Lakes are processed in Cochrane or other places.
Their proposal this time is to log the Allison Creek valley from the forest reserve boundary up past the Window mountain area. This picture shows the lower portion of the clear cut area.

They are proposing to log the valley on both sides of Allison Creek, a major tributary to the blue ribbon trout stream Crowsnest River, leaving a minimal buffer (3o metres and less) along the creek and no buffer along the road. At the far right of the above picture is the very bottom of Crowsnest Mountain which will also be seeing some clear cutting in Spray Lakes plan. Crowsnest Mountain is the Pass's most recognizable and important icon. Likely one of the most photographed mountains in the Rockies.
People's concerns range from protection of the headwaters of the Oldman River basin to the impact the scarring created by the clear cut will have on the recreation and tourism industry of the scenic Crowsnest Pass. Another area resident, David McIntyre, has other concerns regarding rare and endangered tree species that make their home in this forest. You can view his letter to Pass council by clicking here (please hit your browser's back button to return to this page). All of the opinions expressed by a great many people here and across the province are valid, legitimate concerns and deserve to be addressed.

Another concern that has not really been raised is the impact of this logging on our elk herds. In this earlier post I talked about our need to protect land important to wildlife for corridors and winter range. Much of the land west of Coleman is very significant to elk for winter forage. Just as important, though, is the forests those elk wintering here need for cover and warmth. Thick forests generate a great deal of heat and for elk to survive cold winters they need that energy. The main reason we have the healthy elk herds now that didn't exist fourty to eighty years ago is the healthy forest that protects them.

One has to wonder why, when the logging industry is shut down all across the west and there is a glut of timber on the market, Spray Lakes is planning on cutting trees here? In this depressed lumber market how can the company afford to cut trees here in Crowsnest Pass and truck them to Cochrane for processing? Or is their plan to cut our trees and ship them to the U.S. to take advantage of our low Canadian dollar? What benefit can possibly come to the people of Crowsnest Pass? What are we likely to lose?