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Meeting Of The Minds

Protected Public Park? Private Clear-cutting Site?


June 18, 2007

There’s an argument about Kananaskis’ future. But does it have to turn into a damaging fight? Surely we can find a way to reconcile the needs of people, environment, and business.

Here’s how things stand.

Starting next month the area of Elbow Valley, a Part of Kananaskis, is to be clear-cut by Spray Lakes Sawmill (SLS) based in Cochrane.

Kananaskis is public land and to date has many land uses; Recreation, Oil & Gas, Timber, Agriculture. In 2001 the Government awarded SLS the management of this resource through the Forest Management Agreement (FMA). This runs until 2026.

SLS say they must log now to protect Kanaskis from the Pine Beetle. Their opponents say the Pine Beetle, whilst a natural disaster, will only take 30% of the trees.

Kananaskis is being logged because the economic value will be lost if the Beetle get to it first. So called ‘Denim’ wood does not fetch a high price.

That however is not the issue. SLS have the lease to manage the resource, they are a business and like all business their aim is to be economically successful.

The issue is that since 2001 the world has changed. Scientists round the world in 2007 agree that Global Warming is fact. Just last Monday Some 1,500 scientists from more than 50 countries urged Canadian governments to protect the country's 566.6 million-hectare boreal forest. These scientists say the forest is the world's largest storage mass for carbon, a crucial link to help curb global climate change.

We also know that clear-cutting as a way to harvest timber has a heavy negative impact. Where this method is used, look out for soil erosion, landslides, imbalance in rivers and watersheds, wide-ranging loss of habitat for wildlife.

Canadian forests are vital on both a Macro and Micro scale. Kananaskis is one of these.

It would be inappropriate to doggedly stick with a decision made in 2001 that is no longer relevant for 2007 and on.

So where do we meet?

The People want Kananaskis preserved. ‘We Want A Park’, ‘We Want A Park’ is the cry. And demand the Elbow River Watershed be protected.

Spray Lakes Sawmill want their business success to continue.

Around the world there are economic and political processes from which we could learn. Costa Rica's Government has used the capitalist model to their advantage. They sell their forests to international companies who need to offset their Carbon emissions. Costa Rica is PAID to KEEP their forests.

SLS will not GIVE The People Kananaskis but could it not be bought? What would it cost for them NOT to log?

How could the money be raised? Maybe the Government buys the watersheds, Tourism Industry the trails, Oil & Gas the rest as a way to offset the environmental cost of their emissions...

Would selective cutting be an acceptable alternative?

The bottom line here is the right people (SLS; Hon. Rob Renner, Minister of Environment Alberta; Hon.Ted Morten, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development; Hon. John Baird, Minister of Environment ca; Dr. David Swann, Shadow Minister for Environment, Helene Walsh, Alberta FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)) need to get in a room and thrash this out until a satisfactory answer is reached.

Maybe that answer is a way to buyout the FMA contract from SLS and designate Kananaskis a park.

Maybe that answer is selective cutting using the Harvester and Forwarder technology now commonly used throughout the USA, Europe and East Canada.

One thing is certain, with current global and local knowledge it is not ethical, not responsible, not future sensitive to just accept the crude clear-cutting of Kananaskis. There’s got to be a better way. A solution that takes into account all interested parties must be worked on vigorously starting NOW.

What you can do:

Write to the Hon. Rob Renner and the Hon.Ted Morton insisting they initiate discussions involving all interested parties without delay.


Hon. Rob Renner, by e-mail: rob.renner@assembly.ab.ca or write to: 425 Legislature Building, 10800 97 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta Canada T5K 2B6 or phone: 780-415-4815

Hon. John Baird, see PM Stephen Harper

Hon. Ted Morton, by e-mail: foothills.rockyview@assembly.ab ca or write to: 420 Legislature Building, 10800 97 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta Canada T5K 2B6 or phone: 780-415-4815

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, by e-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca or write to: Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa K1A 0A2 or fax: 613-941-6900


CBC News Article – ‘Scientists call for Canadian boreal forest's protection’, Monday, May 14, 2007 | 4:23 PM CT

Understanding Land Use in Alberta - Contact: Ted Morton, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development Alberta. Ph 1 780 415 4815 web http://assembly.ab.ca

Forest Stewardship Council Alberta - Contact: Helene Walsh, FSC Environment Chamber Coordinator in Alberta, Box 1568, Fairview, T0H 1L0 Ph/fax 1 780 835 4652 web http://fsceca.fanweb.ca/

Forest Engineering http://www.forestinfo.org/Products/eco-links/forest-engineering.htm