AHA speaks up against Bragg Creek clear cuts

2012-01-27

Re: Clear Cut Logging of the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area

Dear Premier Redford:

On behalf of the Alberta Hiking Association (www.abhiking.ca) I am writing to ask for your help in resolving this important issue.

The West Bragg Creek recreation area in Kananaskis Country is heavily used by Calgarians in all seasons because of its proximity to the city. It is an invaluable resource for families, working people and seniors and is a health and wellness asset.

In early 2009 the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association and Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation negotiated and signed a partnership agreement to develop and maintain an all season network of trails (over 40 kilometres) for non-motorized users. After extensive public consultation the plan was approved by the Alberta government in September 2010. Final approval was obtained in April 2011, but only after a Land Users Agreement was negotiated with all stakeholders including ranchers, Spray Lakes Sawmills and the Bragg Creek FireSmart Committee. Both Sustainable Resource Development and Tourism, Parks and Recreation signed this agreement. To finally obtain SRD construction approval the alignment of every trail was negotiated with stakeholders. Kananaskis Country managers consider this plan and its approval process to be the model for all future projects.

The Bragg Creek Trails Association then raised $260,000 and began implementing the plan in 2011 using over 2400 hours of volunteer labour! The entire user community (hikers, bikers, equestrians, skiers, and snowshoers) are eagerly looking forward to using these new trails in Calgary’s backyard.

Now, despite all of this attention to due process, the Trails Association is alarmed by the recently revealed plans to superimpose clear cut logging directly onto its newly developed trail system. The Association wants assurance that these logging plans contain detailed protections for their summer and winter trails. For example, winter ski trails require windfirm buffers of trees to protect the snow cover from sun and wind. Such requirements can change from kilometre to kilometre, so logging if allowed at all must be carefully planned by agreement between the Trails Association and the logging company.

The Alberta Hiking Association believes that the destructive logging of this high value recreation area so close to Calgary makes no sense in 2012. This logging should only be allowed to proceed if Spray Lakes Sawmills can satisfy the detailed requirements of the Bragg Creek Trails Association. The June 2012 start to logging should be suspended until such an agreement is obtained.

We hope that you can support this request as a part of your new vision for “leaving Alberta better than we found it.”

Sincerely,

Maurice Gaucher
Director, Alberta Hiking Association, and Chair of the Calgary Coalition of Seniors’ Outdoor Clubs

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