Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

February 13, 2014

How could we possibly have had any concerns about clear-cut logging in the Castle!? Everything is being taken care of…

ESRD letter

As you’ve probably already heard, the deadline to submit your comments on the draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan has been extended until February 28, 2014. If you haven’t already submitted your comments, or if you have more to add, you still have time.

You can comment by filling out a workbook online at: https://www.landuse.alberta.ca/RegionalPlans/SouthSaskatchewanRegion
/SSRPConsultation/Pages/default.aspx

Or send an email to: LUF@gov.ab.ca

You can also fill out a hard copy workbook or write your comments in a letter and mail to:

SSRP Phase 3 Workbook
Land Use Secretariat
9th Floor, 10035 – 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3E1

As a follow up, now would be a great time to call or request a meeting with your MLA and speak to him/her directly regarding your concerns about the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, and about clear-cut logging in the Castle.

And why not call Premier Redford as well, and express your concerns. Dial 310-0000 and ask for the Premier’s office. The call is free from anywhere in Alberta.


Draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP), A Plan Only the Grinch Could Love

December 11, 2013

GrinchAdsmall

The draft SSRP is a major disappointment. Despite all the public opposition to logging in the Castle, the draft SSRP recommends that almost the entire forested area of the Castle be open to clearcut logging.

As disappointing and frustrating as this is, it’s still not too late to let the Premier and the government know what you think. Please make your voices heard.

Information, and opportunities for feedback on the plan can be found at https://www.landuse.alberta.ca/RegionalPlans/SouthSaskatchewanRegion/Pages/default.aspx.

Additional information and analysis can be found at:

Alberta Wilderness Association: http://albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlands/public-lands/luf/introduction?searchterm=SSRP

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society: http://cpaws-southernalberta.org/news/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-ssrp

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative: http://y2y.net/our-work/campaign-news/southern-albertas-regional-land-use-plan


Protect-the-Castle Hike to the Summit of Table Mountain a Great Success

September 19, 2013

Even though it was early on a Sunday morning, the energy level was high as some 50 hikers set out a little after 8:00 a.m. on September 15 for the summit of Table Mountain high above Beaver Mines Lake in the Castle Special Place, southwest of Pincher Creek, Alberta.

The hikers carried an 88-foot-long banner that read PROTECT THE CASTLE. They unfurled it once they reached the top of Table Mountain.

About noon a small aircraft appeared, and participants whooped and waved as the plane made multiple passes to record the scene.

Despite being declared a Special Place in 1998, the Castle remains the only one of 81 Special Places that has not received its final legal designation as a protected area. In the intervening 15 years, recreational and industrial pressures in the Castle have increased, and the ecological health of the Castle has declined.

Recently, there have been vigorous public protests over Spray Lake Sawmills’ clear-cut logging in the recreational heart of the Castle, and in what is considered core grizzly bear habitat under the grizzly bear recovery plan. Spray Lake Sawmills’ clear-cuts were clearly visible from the summit of Table Mountain.

This clear-cut logging, and the Castle’s declining ecological health, are of particular concern given the Castle’s status as a vital “water tower” for the Oldman River basin.

“It turned out to be a perfect fall day, and a great opportunity to make our point”, said David McNeill, one of the hike organizers. “We wanted to do something social and enjoyable that would reinforce our message that we want to see the Castle properly protected.”

“We trust and expect that the Government of Alberta’s soon-to-be-released draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) will recommend that the Castle be protected as a combination Wildland and Provincial Park”, added Gordon Petersen of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition.

The Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition co-sponsored this event.

Photos by Robin Pisko:

CastleHike1web500 CastleHike2web500 CastleHike3web500

Photos by Susan Guerra:

DSCN5707 DSCN5717 DSCN5729 DSCN5732 DSCN5734 DSCN5746 DSCN5751 DSCN5761 DSCN5772 DSCN5779 DSCN5790 DSCN5807


The Protect-the-Castle Hike is a Go! Starts tomorrow, Sunday, September 15, 8:00 am.

September 14, 2013

Protect-the-Castle Hike to Table Mountain, Sunday, Sept 15

Here is an event you might want to participate in:

Protect the Castle, Hike to Table Mountain

A simple gesture to show the world that we want the Castle Protected. I propose you join us on September 15, 2013, for a hike to the top of Table Mountain where we will post the banners ” Protect…the.. Castle” on the top. Bob Pisco or his son will fly over with Jim Cameron and take pictures of this moment in time. Gordon Petersen will share it with the media and spread it around.

We need a minimum of 12 hikers to hold the edges of the canvas banners, but having more would be so great.

Join us at the trail head parking lot at Beaver Mines Lake Recreation Area at 8:00 a.m. on September the 15th, with lots of water, a packed lunch and the hearts of lions. The hike will take about 3 hours up and less coming down. Looking forward to see you not only stand up for the Castle, but do it while standing on a mountain of the Castle.

For further information contact: David McNeill or Linde’ 403-627-3476 or

E mail: farneill@toughcountry.net

This hike is being sponsored by the Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition

Organizers will check the weather forecast on Saturday, Sept 14 at 6:00 pm to decide whether or not the hike is a “go”. Check back here shortly after 6:00 for the latest update.


Shameful legacy of Hidden Creek

September 8, 2013

See Lorne Fitch’s opinion piece in the Lethbridge Heraldhttp://lethbridgeherald.com/2013/08/commentary/opinions/shameful-legacy-of-hidden-creek/

Shameful legacy of Hidden Creek

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 31, 2013.

Lorne Fitch

PROFESSIONAL BIOLOGIST

There is a special place called Hidden Creek in the headwaters of the Oldman River. Bull trout have migrated there to spawn for thousands of years. Native cutthroat trout, in precipitous decline elsewhere, also hang on in the stream by a fin. If there was a place where fish should have trumped logging, Hidden Creek is the place.

It seems there is no place in our Eastern Slopes inviolate from logging. Hidden Creek was logged last winter in a rush, possibly to counter any objections to the contrary. The footprint of a few months of activity now will persist for the foreseeable future and put bull trout and cutthroat trout, both “threatened” species, in peril. Today’s commercial logging is brutal, mechanized, large scale and probably economically marginal. To make economic sense, the usual rules about land use are consistently watered down by the Forest Service as a service, perhaps a subsidy, to the timber industry.

To accommodate logging of the steep, topographically challenging Hidden Creek valley, the Forest Service granted several significant deviations from accepted practice. The logging road was constructed well within the usual protective buffer, meaning sediment has a quicker, direct run into the stream. The valley seeps with water, like a sponge, and is the reason why bull trout home there to spawn. Many source water areas (tributary streams, springs and seeps) were logged over; where buffers were left, these were wafer thin and of questionable effectiveness. Roads and trails now channel both surface and groundwater flow in ways that enhance erosion.

Reclamation of the logging footprint, termed “state of the art” by the Forest Service, is best described as minimalist and perfunctory. The stabilization of steep slopes is problematic and slumping may introduce sediment into Hidden Creek in catastrophic amounts. Attempts to contain sediment from bare slopes and keep it out of the water can charitably only be called cosmetic.

The way industry logs, the way the Forest Service allows and directs industry to log, has soured the majority of southern Albertans on timber harvest. Numerous public opinion surveys corroborate this, including the responses of most participants in the South Saskatchewan Regional Planning process. A mad rush to log all the sensitive watersheds, the ones containing “threatened” native fish, is a cynical attempt to get the last tree before public opinion finally awakens and overwhelms the rapacious, short-term treatment of our headwater water towers.

Laurence Peter, famous also for the Peter Principle, said, “Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.” So it is with the Forest Service that continues blindly to promote destructive logging practices long after the public has said other forest values are more important.

Whether in the guise of local economic development, fire protection, a prophylactic for insect damage or the latest – “water harvest” – the Forest Service sticks to the consistent theme of “the answer is logging, what was the question?” Certainly one of the silliest, if not the most disingenuous of initiatives, given recent flooding is the Forest Service plan to log one of the unlogged, unroaded watersheds in the Crowsnest Pass to increase water delivery. We need more forest canopy, not less, given the recurring themes of heavy June rain storms and subsequent flooding.

Fish do not immediately die from a logging operation but the legacy of poorly planned cutblocks, inappropriate roading and a lack of timely, effective restoration of the logging footprint creates a legacy of problems. These inevitably lead to population fragmentation, spawning failure, habitat loss and population declines. Once fish and wildlife populations dip below a critical mass, any of a number of factors, natural and/or human, are magnified and cause populations to disappear.

The cutblocks on Hidden Creek won’t be logged again for over 100 years based on slow, torturous growth rates in a circumstance where trees struggle. The ones cut were over 100 years old and barely eight inches in diameter at their bases. When those trees were seedlings, about 1900, far-sighted and wise bureaucrats were thinking about and instituting a landscape approach to watershed protection called the Forest Reserve. Sadly, that noble ideal has been exchanged for one of exploitation, a shift for areas originally set aside for their watershed virtues.

Maybe, just maybe, by the time the feller bunchers or their new kin come again to Hidden Creek there will be a more enlightened approach to forest and watershed management than that exhibited by recent logging. If bull trout and cutthroat trout (as well as grizzlies, elk, wolverine and lynx) survive this latest logging onslaught they might persist until the next one. The best we can hope for, those of us that appreciate clean water, native trout and watersheds with ecological integrity, is the Forest Service goes extinct before many of the indicators of enlightened, sustainable forest management do.

Lorne Fitch is a professional biologist, a retired Fish and Wildlife biologist and an adjunct professor with the University of Calgary.


Protect-the-Castle-Hike to Table Mountain, Sunday, Sept 15

September 8, 2013

Here is an event you might want to participate in:

Protect the Castle, Hike to Table Mountain

A simple gesture to show the world that we want the Castle Protected. I propose you join us on September 15, 2013, for a hike to the top of Table Mountain where we will post the banners ” Protect…the.. Castle” on the top. Bob Pisco or his son will fly over with Jim Cameron and take pictures of this moment in time. Gordon Petersen will share it with the media and spread it around.

We need a minimum of 12 hikers to hold the edges of the canvas banners, but having more would be so great.

Join us at the trail head parking lot at Beaver Mines Lake Recreation Area at 8:00 a.m. on September the 15th, with lots of water, a packed lunch and the hearts of lions. The hike will take about 3 hours up and less coming down. Looking forward to see you not only stand up for the Castle, but do it while standing on a mountain of the Castle.

For further information contact: David McNeill or Linde’ 403-627-3476 or

E mail: farneill@toughcountry.net

This hike is being sponsored by the Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition

 

Organizers will check the weather forecast on Saturday, Sept 14 at 6:00 pm to decide whether or not the hike is a “go”. Check back here shortly after 6:00 for the latest update.


Spray Lake Sawmills Open Houses. Wednesday, May 8 in Cochrane, and Thursday May 9 in Blairmore.

May 6, 2013

Spray Lake Sawmills is having open houses on Wednesday, May 8 in Cochrane, and Thursday May 9 in Blairmore.

See http://www.sprayftp.com/wordpress/:

On May 8th and 9th Spray Lake Sawmills will be hosting our annual open houses.  May 8th will be located  in Cochrane at the Cochrane Curling Club  and May 9th will be held in Blairmore at the Blairmore Legion, both will run from 3:00 to 7:00 PM.

The purpose of the open houses is to provide an opportunity for interested parties to view our harvest plans.  This includes the company’s General Development Plan as well as the area specific Forest Harvest Plans.

Spray Lake Sawmills’ Woodlands staff will be available to help answer any questions and hear any comments you may have to offer.  Everyone is welcome, even if it is just to meet the Woodlands staff and join us for a cup of coffee.

This is a good opportunity to see what the company has in mind for the next while, and to let them know what you think about industrial clear-cut logging in the Castle, Star Creek, Todd Creek, West Bragg Creek, and so on.

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