Info on Kananaskis Country Roads and Logging

  1. Powderface Trail: You’ll be happy to know that Powderface Trail (the road) will remain closed until at least 2015. Alberta Transportation has hired “an engineering consultant to  carry out a detail design  and arrange  for the regulatory approvals to repair and replace” the bridges. However, due to sensitive fishery issues  raised by a federal department and the small window allowed  for the work to take place, it could be a long time before we get back on this road.
  2. Gorge Creek Road: The one big washout on Gorge Creek Road is being looked at this spring, There is hope the road will be reopened  sometime this summer.
  3. Hwy. 532: More work needs to be done on Hwy. 532 west of Indian Graves. Should be open by mid summer. Starting next winter, this road, formerly open all year,  will be slapped with a seasonal closure  between Dec 1 and April 30 west of Indian Graves Campground.
  4. Hwy. 940 between Cataract Creek Campground and Hwy. 532 needs more work. Should reopen in mid to late summer.
  5. Hwy. 40: A new bridge over Lineham Creek on Hwy. 40 will be installed later this summer.
  6. Hogs Back trail: Everybody’s favourite trail in the Sheep will be logged either this year or next. I refer to the very scenic and historic Hogs Back trail above Threepoint Creek. The logged area will extend  from that first grassy hilltop all the way west to the viewpoints where you look into the gorge. The trail will be protected, although  plans call for part of it to be access road. SLS and ESRD will be going in there to re-GPS the trail this summer and will hopefully take the access road elsewhere. Bad news is that there will be no buffers of any kind and the cutblock will extend right across the trail. Funnily enough, Threepoint Creek trail farther north, which is not a scenic trail where it crosses the watershed, will have buffers on both sides.
Hogs Back

It seems to me that special trails deserve special consideration from SLS and the ESRD. Your thoughts. on this?



23 comments… add one
  • Robert May 19, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Sorry, typo in the photo link:

  • Robert May 19, 2015, 1:28 pm

    The Hogs Back was logged, at least partially, last winter. I don’t think I can append a picture, so here’s a link:
    As much respect was shown the trail as I suppose one could expect. But I do worry about it surviving. Once past the knife ridge section of the eastern half, the cut blocks generally come up to but not across the trail. All the remaining trees are on the windward, and are starting to blow down. Climbing up the western section in the cutblock, from the logging road crossing they kindly left all the alder brush adjacent to the trail, mostly so there was something to tie flagging to. But if there’s any moisture this year, that alder will explode and overgrow the trail completely. Given that the logging road has not been ‘reclaimed’ I expect they plan to do more harvesting next year. In the meantime, the OHV have extended their presence.

  • B. Dec 9, 2014, 7:01 pm

    Because unlike youth messing things up, the awful destruction caused by logging is supposed to be “good for the economy” (not really).
    Mclean Creek is a FLUZ, also known as a LTTZ (Loggers Target This Zone)

  • Tony Dec 8, 2014, 8:08 pm

    I was in Mclean creek last week Dec 1 2014.I was shocked and saddened to see the logging going on. Rite by the green gate that is always locked up from their about a 100 ft is also being logged the whole back section is gone off the main gravel road . I sure would like to see what the hell the reasoning is behind this. I have been going there for 20 plus years and have raised my kids to enjoy it as well. I am afraid there wont be much for their kids to enjoy if that keeps up. I am not a tree hugger by any means but do enjoy hunting ,atv and the outdoors. We raised our kids to stay on trails and keep our print to the established trails.I sure would like to kick the person or persons that allowed this extent of logging. I bet he doesn’t spend much time out there. Any way this I`m sure wont be heard but there has to be something that can be done , or not . One more thing how come when there is destruction being created by young high school grads in May long that it is always all over the news? I don’t think I have seen a bit of coverage on the destruction of the 100 and 1000 of acres from logging? Why was the meeting for the logging not advertised more so more people could voice their concerns. It reminds me of the Dukes of Hazard movie or a magic trick. What this hand to distract you the we take what we can in this hand

  • Kevin VT May 23, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Good to see they aren’t just slamming more undersized culverts in along Powderface Trail. The hanging and failed culverts pre-flood were total barriers to fish movement, and it’s little wonder they blew out so badly (although admittedly in 2013 pretty near everything blew out). If there has to be a vehicle road there (IMO there doesn’t) it should be done right. So hats off to Alberta Transportation for taking the time finally to give those little headwaters creeks the respect they deserve. I don’t mind waiting a while longer to get back in there by vehicle; after all, I have legs.

  • Tyler Apr 23, 2014, 9:14 pm

    Derek, the only stretch that was open to vehicle traffic was from Highway 68 east of Sibbald Lake campground south to Dawson. At least it was that way when I was on it last August.

  • Derek Apr 23, 2014, 7:48 pm

    Is the entire length of the Powderface Trail road closed? As in, between highway 66 and highway 68 the entire road is closed to vehicles? Or is the section from 66 to canyon creek open to vehicle traffic?

  • Alf Skrastins Apr 16, 2014, 7:39 pm

    If you want to know what the logging plans are for K-Country or if you want to provide your input, here is your chance.

    Spray Lake Sawmills would like your feedback and will be hosting annual open houses on May 7, 2014 from 3:00 pm till 7:00 pm at the Frank Wills Memorial Hall in Cochrane, and on May 8, 2014 from 3:00 pm till 7:00 pm at the Hillcrest Fish and Game Hall in Crowsnest Pass. The purpose of the open houses are to present the
    Company’s harvest plans for the upcoming season as well as outline the general, five year harvest plan. Spray Lake Sawmills Woodlands staff will be available to help answer any questions and gather any participant feedback. Everyone is welcome to
    participate, even if it’s just to meet the staff and join us for coffee. We are looking forward to seeing you!

    Jason Mogilefsky, B.Sc., RPF
    Environment and Safety Manager- Woodlands
    Spray Lake Sawmills
    305 Griffin Road W. Cochrane, Alberta T4C 2C4
    Office: (403) 851-3338 Cell: (403) 540-0325 Fax: (403) 932-6675
    [email protected]

  • Alf Skrastins Apr 14, 2014, 7:37 pm

    All parks are managed by the Tourism, Parks and Recreation Ministry and those lands do not get undesignated as Parks. On the other hand, large tracts of Forest Land Use Zone lands have been designated as parks in the last 35 years. I expect we’ll see several more new parks as an outcome of the South Saskatchewan Regional Planning process.
    A Wildland Park designation mainly describes what level of infrastructure (like minimal trails, campsites), the fact that hunting and random camping is permitted and the fact that there are no roads within a Wildland Park. Elbow-Sheep, Don Getty, Bluerock and Bow Valley Wildland Parks encompass some pretty incredible areas within Kananaskis Country, including significant areas of mature spruce and subalpine for forest.
    Historically, most of the areas on the east (foothills) side of Kananaskis Country had less forest cover than today and the forests were/are mostly lodge pole pine because the areas were regularly burned by First Nations for the past 5000 years. It is only since the practice of setting fires was banned and aggressive fire protection methods were instituted in the past 100 years that forests have been able to expand to the extent we see today.

  • G. Apr 14, 2014, 12:43 pm

    A cut like this displays a remarkable lack of forsight on the part of the government; they might as well call it Talunkwan Island.
    The Sheep has always been my fauvourite area of the Kanananskis, and it seems to be one of the most popular, and Turner Valley seems to get quite a bit of income from it.
    Who knows if there will be any old growth forest left eventually, you never know when they’ll start getting rid of Wildland Parks, few industries can destroy so much in so little time as clearcutting.

    New wildland parks seem to cover areas where there is nothing to protect.

  • Tyler Apr 14, 2014, 6:33 am

    Good idea! Will do.

  • Alf Skrastins Apr 13, 2014, 10:43 pm

    Take a look at the Alberta Parks map on the Kananaskis Parks website. Anything identified as a Provincial Park, Wildland Park, or Provincial Recreation Area will remain as it is, without logging or other resource extraction. You may, however, get prescribed burns in those areas.
    The remaining 40% of K-Country in the Sibbald, Powderface, Elbow, Sheep, Highwood and Livingstone is a “Forest Land Use Zone” where forestry, energy extraction and cattle grazing can take place. For information about future logging plans, contact Spray Lakes Sawmills in Cochrane . Get on their contact list for updates on open houses and information related to their harvest planning process.

  • Tyler Apr 12, 2014, 7:49 am

    In response to your last post Gillean, I again agree with you. With over thirty years of experience in the backcountry I have seen a lot of things. My overall knowledge of the history of K-Country is a little vague as I just moved to Calgary four years ago. Sure I have most of the trails and fish and wildlife movements pegged as I am out there every weekend. But the history of logging in the area and other things I lack the information on. I could look it up. I could go into detail of what happens when you have a forest full of stunted trees. But that is pretty easy to figure out on one’s own. I realize some of my posts on this topic have been somewhat of the doom and gloom variety. It saddens me that we have already lost a vast chunk of dare I say “precious wilderness”, not just here in the foothills and the mountains. But natural wetlands on the prairie, boreal forests to the west and north, stands of poplar to the east. Not to mention the devastation of rainforests and other areas worldwide. Man in general has not been kind to the earth. Again this drum has been beat on countless times in the past. I am not a “tree hugger” nor a certified environmentalist. I am however a steward of the land and care very deeply about our environment. We as a human race owe it to the next generation to have the green spaces to enjoy tomorrow like we have today. We can’t afford to lose anymore. Logging and resource extraction has been occurring long before you and I were born and it will continue long after we are gone. This is reality. My concerns are what are the next plans for logging. Are we going to see more in the Sheep Valley, WBC/Elbow, Highwood/Etherington/Cataract or Sibbald areas? Or is the beautiful treed valley of the Kananaskis River basin next in line? I don’t have these answers, but I sure would like to find out.

  • Gillean Daffern Apr 11, 2014, 5:47 pm

    Hogs Back isn’t the only trail to be affected by logging in this go around.
    #32, vol 2— West side of Quirk Creek (where not already logged) north of Howard Creek to the drop off above Threepoint Creek gorge.
    #66 vol 4 Volcano Creek trail between the drop -off and Volcano Creek. Includes both sides of the Threepoint Creek gorge above the big waterfall. And both sides of Volcano Creek gorge . In part, the trail will be used as a haul road. The view from the the viewpoint of Hogs Back — see Derek’s pic on page 207— is going to look a lot different.
    # 70 vol 4 Muskeg Creek. Hillsides on both sides of the valley. Trail should not be affected.
    #61 vol 4 Aspen Viewpoint. Ridge will be logged on the NE side all the way down to Threepoint Creek.

    I sympathise Tyler. All those little spruce growing in the shade of the Lodgepoles don’t stand a chance to reach maturity. There are very few decent sized stands of spruce left in the foothills and what there is should be protected. Ditto Douglas Fir. Comments?

  • Tyler Apr 9, 2014, 6:49 am

    Good to hear. Didn’t mind the temporary bridge. Got me to where I needed to go. :).

  • Alf Skrastins Apr 8, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Highway #66: The bridge over the Elbow River has been rebuilt enough to allow one-lane traffic across it. Construction crews are currently working on the north lane. This means that we no longer have to descend to the temporary bridge. It looks as if the work should be completed in time for the spring hiking season.

  • Alf Skrastins Apr 4, 2014, 8:13 pm

    It may be informative to read the operating ground rules that Spray Lakes Sawmills is required to follow during the forest harvesting process… from planning to logging to reclamation.

  • Tyler Apr 4, 2014, 5:16 pm

    I agree with you entirely Gillean. You made mention of changes in runoff due to logging and you are one hundred percent correct. Something else I failed to mention is silt load and the effects on the fishery. If I remember correctly, Threepoint Creek ( and Ware Creek for that matter) is used as a rearing stream for the newly emerged fry from the spawners of the Bow River. Correct me if I am wrong, this is according to some of the fisheries info I have. Although not a deep stream, I found a couple holes that were around 3 feet deep. This was four years ago. Though I don’t fish anymore, I can’t help but wonder of how they will fair after logging commences. This stream has seen some stream bank instability in stretches due to cattle as well, but that could be said for any foothills stream in K-Country where livestock grazing is permitted. Off topic to a point I know. I don’t like what they are planning to do either. I really don’t. It scares me to death because where is the next place that is due for logging ? Then the place after that and so on.

  • Gillean Daffern Apr 3, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Just a few comments on what’s been submitted so far. Thanks PH for the pics. Re Hogs Back, it will be logged west of the first high point, or hogsback, where the cross used to be. Re Alf and Tyler comments: yes everything depends on HOW the area is logged. At least SLS is cognizant of the fact that trails need to be better protected — the trail itself if not the environs. I agree that sometimes we can use logging to our advantage by rerouting a trail, or opening up viewpoints (although that didn’t happen at West Bragg). In the case of Hogs Back, though, neither is the case. The trail doesn’t need rerouting and the cutblock won’t open up any view except the mess left behind after logging. Yes, there are advantages to logging, but also disadvantages as a outfitter friend pointed out on hearing the news . It has been proven that for a few years after logging , the runoff is faster, owing to the disturbance of the top soil and resulting erosion. This logging, which is quite extensive, is taking place in the headwaters of Threepoint Creek which runs into the Sheep River that runs through…. I think you get the picture.

  • Tyler Mar 30, 2014, 9:30 am

    Thanks for helping clear up what I said Alf. After reading your response I completely agree with you wholeheartedly. Re routing trails is a viable option for a few reasons not just for logging. Last year’s flood obviously saw anywhere from re-routing to complete decimation of trails. Some of these re-routes maybe permanent. Little off topic. In terms of logged areas, yes there is a short term impact, but the long term effects can be beneficial where new growth is created allowing for new grazing opportunites for deer, elk, moose, sheep, bears etc. As for the tree buffer theory, yes trees can blow down, but they also help curtail erosion. Been born and raised in rural east central Alberta, I have seen my share of erosion. Having a dialogue with SLS or any lumber, resource company for that matter is vital for the long term viability and sustainability of an area. Sign me up for the next public forum. Not just for K-Country but for the Crowsnest Pass, Castle River Wilderness, or west of Rocky Mountain House/Nordegg, Sundre, Caroline areas as these are also areas I frequently hike. Like you said above, a lot of the trails we enjoy where created by said companies for our use. Us as recreational users of the area have benefited from this and are thankful. Moving a trail out of an “environmentally sensitive” area is a no-brainer. Would like to see this happen sooner rather than later. Whether it does remains to be seen. These things take time I know. I used the term “pristine” rather loosely. If there is an untouched or unexplored piece of wilderness anywhere in this province, I would like to know about it as it would be rare. Virtually every square inch of land in this province has been traveled on one way or another by man, whether it been before our time during the fur trade, early explorers, surveryors, lumber, mining,oil and gas companies, farmers and ranchers you name it. We all play a part in minimizing our footprint as well. My apologies for not being clear with my original response and hope what I said here helps clarify a few things.

  • Alf Skrastins Mar 29, 2014, 8:24 pm

    Just to put things into perspective… In 1977 100% of the area we know as Kananaskis Country was available for logging, mining and energy development. Today, 60% of Kananaskis Country is managed by Alberta Parks and only 40% is available for resource development.
    Many of the “pristine” Parks areas have actually seen resource extraction and have recovered enough to be perceived as high quality recreation and wildlife habitat. For example: Kananaskis, Spray and Barrier Lakes (hydro-electric dams), Ribbon Creek, Mt Invincible, Cat Creek (mining), Spray-Smith Dorrien Valley, Highwood Valley, Evan-Thomas area, Wind Valley, Quaite Valley, Elbow Valley, Powderface Valley, West Bragg Creek (logging). In fact many of the ski and hiking trails that we enjoy were originally logging roads, mining roads and power line access roads.
    It should also be noted that continuous forest cover is not the “natural” condition for much of the foothills. Thousands of years of regular burning by First Nations kept much of the foothills in a largely grassland condition, until fires were prevented and controlled in the last 100 years or so.
    That being said, we should all be engaging with Spray Lakes Sawmills on a regular basis to ensure that forest harvesting activities do not negatively impact trail recreation in the medium/long term. Yes, there will be an immediate short-term impact from logging, but that can be minimized.
    The best long-term solution is not always a tree buffer along trail corridors. Tree buffers can blow down and block trails…and sometimes a trail is improved by having views. Sometimes it is better to move a trail to a better alignment to get out of boggy areas. A variety of options should be considered.

  • thepassionatehiker Mar 28, 2014, 8:59 pm

    I have made a few comments and added some photos, which can be seen at this address:

    The Passionate Hiker

  • Tyler Mar 28, 2014, 5:38 pm

    I am all for trail protection. However, where does one draw the line on certain trails deserving special consideration? Like many passionate hikers, snowshoers etc. I have explored a lot of the trails in K-Country and beyond. There are some that see me many times a year and some that have yet to see my boot prints. Not for lack of trying, it all depends on what terrain I want to visit for the day, do I want the foothills trails of Bragg Creek or Gorge/Ware Creek area? The forested trails of the Cataract/Etherington area, or do I want to gain some altitude and climb the high peaks in the Little Elbow/ K-Lakes/ Highwood Pass area? That is the beauty of K-Country, the possibilities are endless. The point I am trying to make is every single trail or route, whether marked or unmarked holds a special place in people’s’ hearts, so to designate a trail for special consideration will please some and anger others. It would be nice if a bit more care was shown especially along streams and boggy areas to protect riparian zones and fish habitat. That said, I would like to see companies keep a buffer along the trails for not only in terms of not having to look at a clear cut hillside, but for wildlife movement as well. As for the timber extraction as a whole, last I checked, we still need lumber and paper not only for us, but exports as well. Don’t see that going away anytime soon especially with an ever growing global population. Besides, I don’t like things going to waste so I’d much rather see the sensible and environmentally and socially responsible harvest of trees then to have a whole forest wiped out due to mountain pine beetle or widespread forest fire . Note that I said sensible and responsible extraction. If a company comes in an cuts down every single tree and pollute waterways and rip through sensitive areas obviously that is no good either. That is plain as day. We have already lost a lot of these areas the past however many years. What is left that is pristine isn’t much at all.

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