West Bragg Creek trail system to be protected

2012-11-09

Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) announced the approval of a FireSmart logging plan for West Bragg Cree on 30 Oct 2012. Working with the existing land use framework, the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association (GBCTA) worked hard over the last 12 months to have trails protected from logging so that the integrity of the West Bragg Creek trail system is maintained. Over the last several months, other trail users have also provided input to ESRD.

Generally, all trails will have 50 meter buffers on each side of th trails where logging will not be conducted. This is a very good outcome for trails, as previous Operating Ground Rules would have allowed all trails to be completely clearcut. Withy these buffers now incorporated into the Final Harvest Plan, ESRD has recognized the importance of recreational interests in multi-use public lands.

The ski trail mitigations resulted in the majority of the proposed cut-blocks over ski trails being removed in the approved FireSmart harvest plan. Where harvest cut-blocks still exist, the ski trails are being buffered with no harvesting of trees for 50 meters on either side of the trail to provide sun and wind protection. There may be some temporary closures of Iron Springs, Crystal Line east and the Mountain Road, which are historic Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) haul roads. These closures will depend on harvest timing, and the GBCTA is working with SLS to define those closures.

The all season trail mitigations resulted in the majority of all season trails having 50 meter buffers on each side of the trail with no harvesting of trees. Exception to that include some wind exposed all season trails that have a 30 meter modified buffer zone on the west side of the trails to minimize windthrow across the trails. The details of the 30 meter modified buffer zone have yet to be finalized with ESRD, but will involve the logging of merchantable timber to a specified minimum diameter, with only a feller-buncher entering the buffer zone, as required to harvest the trees. No processing of harvested trees or scarification will occur in the 30 meter modified buffer zone. As well, several all season trails have a 50 meter buffer adjacent to the trails plus a 30 meter modified buffer adjacent to the 50 meter buffer, to address potential windthrow or erosion concerns. There will be a number of locations on all season trails that have logging roads or skid trails crossing the trails. Trail signage and closures will be used to address trail user safety.

For details please see ESRDís announcement and map at:
www.srd.alberta.ca/Wildfire/FireSmartCommunities/BraggCreekFireSmartSession/Default.aspx

The logging negotiations were frustrating to all involved. We hope that all can learn from and build upon this experience, and the ESRD will implement an upgraded and updated process and framework prior to initiating the planning of any further logging in West Bragg Creek. We trust that discussions with ESRD will resume shortly to address several outstanding issues and we look forward to a successful resolution of these issues in a timely fashion.

The GBCTA would like to thank all who supported the trails and provided input to ESRD over the last year. Your efforts helped develop this positive outcome for trails.

For further information on the ski trail mitigations, please contact Bruce Barker at ski@braggcreekski.org.

For further information on the all season trail mitigations, please contact Eric Lloyd at elloyd@davincibb.net or (403) 949-2696.

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