West Bragg Logging Open House

Open House notice
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.

5 comments… add one
  • Victoria Jun 6, 2012, 4:05 pm

    In the future the clear cutting will help our forests. Maybe we will not be able to enjoy the re-growth of the trees but our children will be able too. I that not what is important to us? Saving the environment for our children?

  • Peter Jan 19, 2012, 2:14 pm

    Firebreaks are a poor excuse for clearcutting. Just look at Slave lake. No firebreak of any size would have saved that town. Extreme winds and dry conditions caused burning tree ash to fly over highways and large open areas which in turn ignited buildings in the town. A better option would be to construct buildings out of materials that are fire resistant. Cedar roofs and vinyl siding on homes just fueled the wildfire that destroyed Slave lake. Instead of destroying more trees for $$$ lets change the codes for what towns are built of. That way Bragg creek won’t turn into an eyesore like the slopes of Mount Baldy or the ghost valley.

  • Clive Cordery Jan 19, 2012, 10:48 am

    Hi Tony, having used the WBC trails for upwards of 2 decades I think its safe to say that usage of the trails has exploded in the last few years. This is now a very important resource for the citizens of Calgary. I am still disgusted at what Spray Lake Sawmills has been allowed to do at Barrier Lake/Mt Baldy (I was told it was for mountain pine beetle control when I protested). I do not want to see the same thing happen at West Bragg (this time the pretext is for fire control). Of course the forest will rejuvenate , and may well improve things in the long term, but this will take many years and I’ll be too old to care by then. I think it is appropriate that all users of this public land have a say in its future.

  • Tony Daffern Jan 19, 2012, 10:29 am

    Thanks for your comments Bruce. I was concerned with some of the rhetoric coming out of the media reports along with some questionable statistics that lacked context. I thought it needed to be cleared up before the open house. I hope the open house is well attended and that participants allow GBCTA and CMBA to deal with Spray Lakes Sawmills on their behalf.

  • Bruce Barker, GBCTA V.P. Jan 19, 2012, 9:45 am

    Hi Tony:
    As Vice President of the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association and chair of the ski committee that volunteer grooms and tracksets the ski trails at west Bragg Creek, I would like to clear up some misconceptions in your blog.

    1) There is no relationship between GBCTA and Sustain Kananaskis.

    2) The GBCTA is one of the groups (including Spray Lakes and SRD) who signed the West Bragg Creek Land Users Agreement. This was developed to reach agreement on trail development in west Bragg Creek. It did not include any mitigation efforts by SLS to minimize damage to the trails.

    3) The GBCTA is currently negotiation with SLS to develop mitigations so that trails are not impacted by logging. We were only officially provided the Final Harvest Plan by SLS in Nov., and submitted our requested mitigations in early Jan to SLS. They declined to meet prior to the Open House, and have requested that we do not make any of their plans or negotiations public.

    4) The Open House will be the first time that the SLS logging plan will be made public.

    5) The logging will negatively impact the ski trails. I base this on hundreds of hours spent grooming the trails. Once a trail is opened up by logging, the sun and wind exposure is very damaging, and this cannot be remedied by slash or snow fencing, as the trails are groomed by skidoo and ginzugroomer, which have limited capacity to move ‘farmed’ snow around on the trails. Tree regrowth is slow, and takes 15 to 20 years to provide wind protection, and many more years to provide sun protection.

    6) Ski trail conditions can be variable, but skiing can be great from mid Nov into April. With better grooming equipment, the GBCTA and K-Country have re-established west Bragg skiing as a very good destination, and is the closest ski trail system to Calgary. Why sacrifice the trails.

    7) The GBCTA and the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance were both signators to the West Bragg Creek All Season Trail Plan. We only represent our interests as recreational users, and we encourage all other recreational user groups to attend the Open House to get further information on the logging plans and the impact on trails. This is critical since SLS has requested that the GBCAT and CMBA do not forward any logging plans to the public.

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