I am having difficulty deciphering the relationship between the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association (GBCTA) and Sustain Kananaskis, a “grass roots initiative” that is drawing media attention to logging in West Bragg. When the GBCTA drafted the trails plan in early 2010 they recognized that the area was slated for logging and undertook to collaborate with Spray Lakes Sawmills and SRD to minimizing the impact on trails and trail user experience.
The GBCTA and its Plan Advisory Committee (composed of the area’s main outdoor users) has earned the mandate to negotiate with Spray Lakes Sawmills to mitigate the impact of logging. So why has Sustain Kananaskis suddenly appeared on the scene? Have they recently realized that the area is about to be logged, or is the GBCTA having little success in its negotiations with Spray Lakes Sawmills and are using Sustain Kananaskis to apply some pressure? Maybe we will get some answers at the upcoming open house.
I believe that logging will be good for the West Bragg trails in the long run. Granted logged areas look unsightly for a few years, but you only have to look at areas that were logged 20 years ago to see some of potential benefits—rejuvenated forest, excellent snow retention and more wildlife.
Let’s face it, West Bragg is not a pristine foothills area. Many of the old trails follow resource roads and cutlines. Even though the new hiking-biking trails get up on ridges, views are limited. Many of these trails were designed to skirt the edge of cut blocks to take advantage of the views that will hopefully be opened up.
I don’t agree that the logging will severely impact snow retention on the ski trails, especially after a few years when the newly-planted trees start to grow. Yes, it will open them up to the sun, but lets face it, most years skiing at West Bragg is best from December to mid-February, with occasional good skiing for a few days after a new dump of snow up to the end of March. After this the snow deteriorates very quickly. For the first few year snow retention can be enhanced by using slash from the logging to build low berms on the windward side of ski trails. In a few places snow fencing may be necessary.
While I understand that the general public wants a say in the process, we should let the GBCTA, who represent a lot of outdoor organizations, deal with the logging issues on the trail system. It is important that they are allowed to monitor the logging, replanting and logging road restoration process to ensure that the impact on the trail system by Spray Lakes Sawmills is minimized. Sustainable Resources has not done a good job of this in the past—remember the north end of Telephone Loop?
Be sure to attend the Open House. Spray Lake Sawmills staff will be on site to answer questions and gather feedback, and maps will be on display to show where the cutblocks are located. Check out the comments on our Forum.