This and That

Bragg Creek Harvest Plan

Spray Lake Sawmills was recently involved with a fairly lengthy and involved process to develop a harvest plan which incorporated a host of resource management objectives.  The primary objectives included the integration of the recreation values around the community of Bragg Creek, forest range management, incorporating wildfire mitigation strategies for Bragg Creek and sustainable forest management as part of Spray Lake Sawmills Forest Management Agreement Area.

In the development of a management plan which tries to strike a balance between a range of resource values and uses “compromise” is the order of the day.  We appreciate that not everyone is happy with every aspect of the plan.  However, now that the plan has been finalized and approved, Spray Lake Sawmills will be doing its best to honour the concerns which have been put forward.  We will strive to demonstrate that multiple use forest management is still possible.  We will do our utmost to build trust and confidence in our abilities to deliver a quality job.

More to follow as we move through the implementation phases of the harvest plan.

Atlas Road

One of Spray Lake Sawmills roads, commonly referred to as the Atlas Road, is at a juncture in its long history.  Over the years the road has evolved into a highly valued staging area for the regions recreational trail system.  At the same time the company’s need for the road for resource extraction is winding down.  The area has also been recognized for its high watershed and fisheries values.  As a consequence Spray Lake Sawmills has been working together with community groups in an effort to find a way to satisfy reclamation regulatory requirements and manage the recreational and environmental values at the same time.  While this is still a work in progress we are pleased to be able to advise that the most critical, failing, crossing on Smith Creek has now been reclaimed and has been replaced with a quad bridge for ongoing recreational use.  Spray Lake Sawmills would like to thank SWAT (Southwest Alberta Trails Group) for their generous support and assistance in working with the company to make this happen.



  1. Comments 10

  2. Shaun 4:13 pm on February 20, 2013

    Where can I find information on the complete Forest Harvest Plan for the Elbow Valley? I've seen the plan for West Bragg Creek area but I understand that there have been a number of other clear-cuts that have recently been harvested, or are currently being harvested in the Elbow Valley. There is a block off highway 66 near Little Elbow and numerous blocks down Powderface Road. As a resident of Bragg Creek, I haven't seen any public notice regarding this harvest plan, nor can I find it on your website. Also, in reference to the West Bragg Creek harvest, what species of tree will you be reforesting the cut blocks with?

    • Forester1 5:02 pm on February 20, 2013

      Hi Shaun. It is good to hear from you again. The blocks you mentioned off of Highway #66 and the Powderface Trail have been completed under a previously approved Forest Harvest Plan. They followed the normal development and approval processes under the Operating Ground Rules and were outside of the Firesmart planning process adjacent to West Bragg Creek. There will not be any further harvest plans for these areas for a number of years. The only other harvest plan on the books for the Elbow Valley is what is referred to as the west containment line, to the west of the current cutting area. A field assessment is currently under way in this area. We are anticipating the draft harvest plan to be ready for display and discussion at our annual open house being planned for the first week of May. The following is a copy/paste of the reforestation plans for the current harvesting as submitted and approved under the Forest Harvest Plan for the West Bragg Creek area. SLS will retain the reforestation responsibility for these blocks. SLS will delimb the trees roadside for these cutblocks and pile the debris; ESRD will be responsible for burning the debris piles. The reforestation treatment will be “leave for naturals” with a mixture of pine, spruce, and deciduous with a target of A-B densities. ESRD will assess the feasibility of under-planting these cutblocks with Douglas fir at low densities (approx. 200-300 seedlings/ha) at some future timeframe. SLS will be responsible to carryout establishment and performance surveys. SLS will have to incorporate reduced stocking and yields within these openings in their next revised Forest Management Plan. SLS and ESRD will work together to develop an A/B reforestation standard. I hope this answers your questions. All the best.

  3. Shaun 1:46 pm on February 21, 2013

    Thank-you for the quick reply. Is there any way to access the approved forest harvest plan that includes the Powderface Road blocks, particularly a map that shows the harvest area? As far as reforesting the blocks, will the spruce/pine mix be used in the west Bragg Creek reforestation or will this area only receive low density Douglas Fir?

    • Forester1 3:32 pm on February 21, 2013

      Hi Shaun Given that the harvest operations have already been completed we did not have any plans of posting the maps however you would be more than welcome to give us a call, stop by, and we will show you the maps and answer any questions you may have. We will look forward to hearing from you.

      • Shaun 3:13 pm on April 6, 2013

        Thank-you for the reply. Do you have any future harvest plans in the Elbow Valley? When will these plans be presented to the public. As I'm sure that you're aware, open houses don't provide a good avenue to reveal future plans to the general public. It would be far more effective to reveal them here.

        • Forester1 2:33 pm on April 11, 2013

          Good Morning Shaun We are in the process of working on two Forest Harvest Plans (FHP’s) within the Elbow River Valley, both in fairly close proximity to each other. One is for an area referred to as the second containment line. It is on the west side of the harvesting that occurred over this past year and was included as part of the projected harvest planning maps that have already been displayed, otherwise known as “the yellow blocks”. The second FHP is for some stands that had been identified as part of our spatial harvest sequence within our Detailed Forest Management Plan, which was approved in 2007. This lies within the same generalized area as the second containment line. Once these plans have been completed they will be submitted to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD). We are anticipating this to occur in May. They are planned to be put on display at our open house on May 8 in Cochrane. Following a response from ASRD we will also put the plan on the Spray Lake Sawmills website and post a notice on the SLS blog. In the meantime, if you would like some further information or would like to see the plan just give us a call and we can make arrangements for you to come in and see it. All the best

  4. Don Hughes 10:28 am on March 18, 2013

    To SLS; good job at west bragg! I biked the logging road to homestead and was surprised how nice the whole area is. the views seem even better than before. equipment operators are super considerate. those protesters really had nothing to worry about I am a long time user of the trails. thanks Don Hughes

    • Forester1 11:36 am on March 18, 2013

      Thank you Don. We appreciate your comments. We have been doing our best and hopefully we can use this as an example for future plans of what can be done to work collaboritively with other interests in "multiple use" zones.

    • skeptic 11:18 am on April 2, 2013

      I just walked the access road recently, on the north side along telephone trail etc. Nice if you don't like trees but prefer piles of slash and deadfall everywhere. I got a few good views of other clear cuts. Nice. To me it looked like the exposed deadfall was a real fire danger.As far erosion control on that road I didn't see any and had to get off of it because it was so wet. Another skeptical question: why , if it is law in Alberta to reforest, is SLS planning to have natural regen in west Bragg. Why an exception there. Also, from the number of stumps on the clear cut I was I can't imagine how SLS could be making aNY MONEY from this harvest. I could walk 10 or more meters in many places without seeing a harvested tree stump. My guess would be that the only way sls could make any money there was subsidies, but who will ever know. As far as the previously stated % of the FMS harvested since 2000, I would wonder what the % of the actual harvestable part of the fma has been cut. I can't imagine that even 25% of it is harvestable. Just look at google earth to see how empty the overall area looks. Sure ,the people at sls are probably all nice people just trying to make a living. But IMO, greed , empire building, and the delusion of industry over actual people's well being, has made the truth of what's going on in the forest industry, and others, a sham and a matter of mutual back scratching between between gov't and industry oligarchs. I can't see forestry in southern alberta as being sustainable in any meaningful way, unless the popular myth that clear cutting is the only way, goes away. Try flying over china to see where it led to there,. more skeptical than ever.

      • Forester1 9:40 am on April 3, 2013

        Hi Skeptic: It is good to hear from you again. The reforestation objectives in the blocks that form the fire containment line west of Bragg Creek are different from the traditional reforestation standard. In response to public input and discussion with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development it was decided to take a more passive approach to reforestation, the intent being to retain the effectiveness of these blocks for wildfire containment for a longer period of time. Spray Lake Sawmills is not being subsidised for any of our operations, whether in Bragg Creek or elsewhere. Our operations in Bragg Creek are atypical in some respects but with the sole intent to manage our Forest Management Agreement Area in a balanced approach with other resource management objectives. In this case it is primarily a balancing act with the objectives of trying to harvest in a way which helps create a degree of wildfire protection for the community and to collaborate with recreation trail use interests in the area. According to the Alberta Vegetation Inventory and the landbase “net down” process conducted as part of our timber supply analysis 66% of our Forest Management Agreement Area is operable and will be subject to harvesting over the course of the next 100 years. These areas are also reforested progressively behind the logging. By the time the last of it is cut the first of it will be a mature 100 year old forest again. This is sustainable forestry. The erosion control work that you referenced is not intended to be final reclamation. It is interim erosion control that has been installed on a site-by-site basis depending on the erosion sensitivity of the site. It is only designed to deal with potential issues that may come with spring run-off. More work will follow on the heals of our reforestation program. I hope this answers some of your questions/concerns.

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