Members of Spray Lakes’ Woodlands team have heard comments/concerns from various people about our proposed harvest plans, the most recent being questions about the plans west of Bragg Creek. How will the recreation trails be impacted and how will it affect the overall recreation values of the area? Will we be seeing trucks and other heavy equipment going through the community? Are there any safety concerns we should be aware of? What will the impacts be on water quality and wildlife? How have plans been changed to accommodate these concerns? All valid questions.
As a way to help provide some answers to these questions we are going to try dipping our toe into the social media. While we may not be able to meet 100% of the peoples concerns 100% of the time we can still do a lot to help find a balance among conflicting landuse activities in the forest reserve. First and foremost is the establishment of a communication link to those that have concerns, those that may have some good suggestions or ideas and those that do the planning within the company. We can’t expect people to be happy and supportive of our plans unless we are able to build a trust and understanding in what we are doing.
To open the dialogue here are a few responses to comments we have heard and how we have attempted to accommodate them. Ask your questions and we will do our best to provide you with a factual response.
For starters, here is a map of the Bragg Creek plan as it sits right now. Just in case the legend is a little small to make out, the dark green patches are areas that have been deleted from the original plan to reduce impacts on recreation values while still maintaining fire containment objectives. The white patches are mapped as open areas. These are a mix of open meadows or previous reforested blocks from 25 years ago. The light green areas are forested but not part of any current plans for harvesting. The brown are planned for harvesting as part of the fire containment strategy and the red are areas that have been changed, modified or deleted from the original plan to accommodate a mix of concerns that we heard. Trails and watershed retention areas have also been shown.
In the upper right hand corner is an outline of how harvest practices will be modified around rec trails. We estimate that about 12.9% of the West Bragg Creek trail system will go through or alongside a cut area. These trails will need to see a temporary closure during active operations for safety reasons but will be kept open and clear for ongoing use afterwards. Admittedly fresh logging isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as a mature forest but consider how they will look after they have been reforested and green up again. This is part of the balancing act when working in a forest zoned for multiple-use. The concept of buffering all trails resulted in two problems: 1) reduced functionality (increased risk) in meeting fire containment objectives and 2) increased wind exposure and blowdown susceptibility making trails impassable.
Please click on map for a larger view.
Safety has always been a top priority within our woodlands operations, both for our staff, contractors and general public. We have a time tested program that includes: training, PPE, signage, site hazard assessments, tailgate meetings, inspections and so on. We have heard about concerns with heavy truck traffic going through the community and what impacts there might be on safety, noise and impacts on the road system. As a consequence we have planned an alternate access road which will come down from the north, off of the Sibbald Trail Gun Range Road.
There is a document commonly known as the Operating Ground Rules which outlines best management practices and gives guidelines for operational planning on things such as retention areas around creeks, dealing with critical wildlife areas and so on. This can be found on-line on either ESRD website or Spray Lake Sawmills’ website. Another document that might be of interest is Spray Lake Sawmills Detailed Forest Management Plan (DFMP). This can also be found on both websites mentioned above.
I hope this acts as a start point for some of your questions/concerns. Please respond with any other questions you may have. All the best and I hope to hear back from you.