Spray Lakes logging in Ghost-Waiparous area mobilizes Bighorn residents
Residents raising concerns about speed of development, watershed damage and affects on tourism
The view from Willow Balkwill's property near Ghost-Waiparous west of Calgary is breathtaking, but she is concerned what will happen when Spray Lakes Sawmills begins cutting down a three-kilometre block starting next month.
- Alberta NDP facing pressure to halt Spray Lakes Sawmills logging project
- Castle area logging halted by Alberta government
- Logging company faces opposition on two fronts
"It's too much at once, I wouldn't have a problem with them taking it off over 20 years," Balkwill said.
Some residents in the Municipal District of Bighorn say that logging is being accelerated in the area from two decades to two years.
They worry about the impact on the watershed that drains into the Bow River, and the impact on tourism.
Dave Richards has been an outfitter in the area for three decades.
"It's taking something away and we're never going to get that back in my lifetime, or probably my kids' lifetime.... It's heartbreaking to be quite frank," he said.
However, Spray Lake Sawmills says the work that will get underway next month is not an acceleration but what was approved under the previous provincial government.
"SLS is harvesting within the government-approved sustainable harvest level and is following the government-approved 2007 harvest area sequence," said woodlands manager Ed Kulcsar in a statement.
He added the harvest levels will not "substantially affect water flow" and the company invests in extensive public engagement.
Residents are hoping a new NDP government will put the plan on hold until it can be re-evaluated, which recently happened in the Castle Wilderness area.
They staged a protest Saturday morning at the intersection of Highway 1A and Highway 40.