Environmentalists, residents protest Castle logging plans
Area scheduled to have 120 hectares of trees removed by spring
A few dozen environmentalists and local residents were on hand in the Castle Wilderness Area on Wednesday to protest logging plans for the area.
Spray Lake Sawmills is set to harvest 120 hectares of trees in the area before the end of April.
Protestors say the Castle, which has seen little logging over the past two decades, is an important ecological and recreational area for Albertans.
"This is a prime recreation area, it's important for water, for wildlife, for wilderness based businesses and we don't think there should be any logging here," said Gordon Petersen, of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition. "There are other places where logging is less damaging."
The group said the area is a key wildlife corridor and critical grizzly habitat, adding that too many roads as well as oil and gas projects have already placed stress on the area.
Some of the protestors are accusing the company of planning clear cuts this year and in the years ahead.
Gord Lehn, of Spray Lake Sawmills, said the company follows strict environmental guidelines set by the province.
"That means full reforestation. It's a sustainable resource activity," said Lehn.
"We reclaim roads and manage it with different wildlife concerns as well."
A provincial official said the company will cut patches of forest and is required to reclaim the land after logging is completed. The company has met the necessary environmental standards, according to the province.
Protestors are calling on the province to turn the area into a wilderness park.
The group said they’ll continue to protest as logging operations proceed throughout the winter.