Spray Lake Sawmills and environmentalists at loggerheads in Southern Alberta over harvesting plans for Bragg Creek, Castle Crown Wilderness; conservationists to ask premier to stop logging

LOS ANGELES , January 10, 2012 () –

Environmentalists in Southern Alberta plan to ask Premier Alison Redford to intervene over controversial logging plans by Spray Lake Sawmills Ltd., the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) reported Jan. 6.

Spray Lake plans to cut 19 out of 21 year-round trails near Bragg Creek as part of a provincial plan to prevent wildfires.

Another battle is under way in the Castle Special Management Area in the southwest corner of Alberta, where the community was told just before Christmas that Spray Lake would begin harvesting in January, reported CBC.

In Bragg Creek, the Cochrane-based company plans to clearcut 7 km (4.3 miles) of trees, said Peter Tucker, of Sustain Kananaskis. Tucker said the community wanted to see the company preserve sight-lines, perhaps with a buffer around the trail of 100 m on each side.

A public presentation is scheduled for Jan. 26 in Bragg Creek, said Tucker, CBC reported.

Gordon Petersen, president of Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, said he hopes the premier will step in to halt logging there. The area is a key watershed, according to conservationists.

Spray Lake Sawmills is poised to begin logging after receiving approval from Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development (SRD). Area residents who on Thursday went to the area where logging is scheduled to begin found the parking area cleared for the company's equipment, CBC reported.

No commercial logging has occurred in the Castle Special Management area for more than 10 years.

The company has responded to public concerns by deciding to log just half the amount in previous plans, according to woodland manager Gord Lehn, who said the company was aiming for a "class-act operation down there" and that people would be able to see "it's not going to be the end of the world with respect to landscape aesthetics, watershed or wildlife.”

Spray Lake will not release a specific date to begin logging, reported CBC.

The primary source of this article is the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), Toronto, Ontario, on Jan. 6, 2012.

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