Tuesday, July 27, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 30 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We didn’t inherit these problems overnight, so we don’t have to fix them overnight.”
- David McIntyre  
- on the C5 plan   
   

 

Long‐delayed plan outlines timber harvest areas in region
 
The long planned and long delayed forest management plan, known as the C5 plan, has been approved and released by the Alberta government. The plan outlines timber harvesting areas throughout the Crowsnest Pass region, both north and south of the municipality, and aims to support sustainable forest management practices in the region.
The C5 planning process began in 2002, in anticipation of replacing an older 20-year plan that was approved in 1986. Numerous area stakeholders took part in the planning process. However, when the process was completed in 2006, the province delayed approval pending the completion of the Oldman Watershed Council's State of the Watershed Report, which was released in April of 2010.
Mel Knight, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, says that the plan was prepared with input from stakeholders and residents. "It incorporates a tremendous amount of hard work, community input and sound science, and I'm pleased to see it put into practice."
A press release from SRD indicates that the plan's objectives include sustainable timber management while minimizing impacts on non-timber values, protecting water resources, and addressing regional forest health issues.
The C5 area extends from the northern boundary of Waterton National Park north to Pekisko Creek in Kananaskis country. Under the plan, timber harvesting is permitted within 114,000 hectares, or one-third of the total C5 land area. According to SRD, harvesting will occur on less than one percent of the harvestable land base per year.
The plan differs from its 1986 predecessor in a number of ways, including raising the minimum age of harvest trees, initiating a spatial harvest sequence, and factoring in the effect on water yields in watersheds.
Local scientist David McIntyre, who sat on the C5 advisory committee but resigned in 2003, remains as unconvinced of the plan now as he did at the time. He says that he is not certain he trusts SRD's forest management practices when he believes it is their practices that have put the area forests into the precarious position they now face –– aging stands of pine trees, susceptible to insects and fire.
 
"I would say that this is irresponsible logging," says McIntyre of the C5 plan. "We didn't inherit these problems overnight, so we don't have to fix them overnight."
He says that he recognizes that there is a problem on the landscape, given the metaphorical insect buffet and potential fire hazard represented by the vast areas of mature lodge pole pine in the region. He says that he doesn't feel pure logging is the answer, and that the province should be focusing in other ways as well.
"The key that they should look at is water," says McIntyre. He says that there has been an incredible amount of erosion due to use of the landscape, and that logging can make it worse.
In addition, he says, he feels that the province should be aiming for a higher diversity in the tree crop, instead of focusing on the profitable lodge pole pine. When so much of the forest is one type of tree, he says, it sets the stage for forest health issues, such as the mountain pine beetle, where the only easy solution is to log.
McIntyre suggests that the province should take interest in planting other native species, such as western white pine, western larch, and ponderosa pine. "We'd diversify our crop manyfold," he says.
He adds that he feels the province should also be taking more care to consider the numerous rare-in-Alberta tree species that exist on the landscape. The province has recognized whitebark pine and limber pine as endangered tree species in Alberta, but McIntyre says that there are others out there that are even less common.
Finally, he says that he believes the focus on logging harms the landscape's aesthetic appeal, which if used properly could be an economic driver for the region.
McIntyre says that he feels logging is a quick fix solution for forest management, and that the province should look at other aspects to improve the forest's health in the long term.
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