Foes of K-Country logging and logging company clash at open house

Starting in the fall of 2026, the West Fraser timber company plans to log parcels totaling nearly 900 hectares of forest in the West Bragg Creek and Moose Mountain areas.

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Logger West Fraser said Wednesday’s open house that attracted a large crowd was to allay fears about his logging plans in a popular recreational area near Bragg Creek, and to gather input on how it will be done.

But for some of those who came to question company staff, most dressed in green golf shirts and looking at maps of target areas, the event at Cochrane RancheHouse left more questions and concerns.

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“There’s an opportunity for the company to get it right, but they see it as a check mark that they have to do to harvest and smooth over those concerns until people realize they were legitimate,” said Shaun Peter of Bragg Creek & Kananaskis. Outdoor. Recreation.

Minutes earlier, Peter and other logging critics asked West Fraser Alberta Forestry Chief Richard Briand about how the company will proceed with logging two areas west of Bragg Creek, starting in about two and a half years.

He told Briand that the company should follow the example of other industrial users who have rights in the area but have chosen not to exercise them due to social and environmental pressures.

He suggested West Fraser ask the provincial government to buy its logging rights in the area to preserve it.

“Having you come to government with us would be a way for everyone to win,” Peter told Briand, who was noncommittal.

Briand said, “I appreciate your passion… I’m glad you came.”

The open house is part of the public consultation required for the logging plan

Starting in fall 2026, logging company West Fraser plans to log parcels totaling nearly 900 hectares of forest in the West Bragg Creek and Moose Mountain areas, which are surrounded by hiking, biking and ski trails and are considered a short outdoor car ride. The mecca for Calgarians.

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It is part of the company’s logging rights contained in a 20-year forest management agreement that extends across much of the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

Moose Mountain
Moose Mountain is seen from Sibbald Flats, Kananaskis Country. Photo by BILL KAUFMANN /postmedia

Late last month, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas Minister Rebecca Schulz said logging approved by her government must meet strict environmental standards and undergo comprehensive public consultation, including Wednesday’s open house .

“We always have to balance economic opportunity with meeting our highest environmental standards and, of course, tourism and mountains are something that Albertans and the rest of the world see as one of our most precious resources,” he said .

At Wednesday’s open house, West Fraser Woodlands manager Tyler Steneker said the company is determined to do just that, adding that the public consultation process is much more than window dressing.

“We’re really sincere in saying we want a meaningful commitment: We’ve already met with mountain bike groups and committed to going out on the trails and hiking with them,” said Steneker, who considers himself an avid mountain biker.

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“It’s about discussing how much space there will be (between logging blocks and trails); it’s about feeling it, not just looking at maps.”

‘We’re here to have meaningful conversations about obtainable items’: West Fraser

Of more than 300 kilometers of trails in the two areas, logging would overlap no more than seven kilometers under the current plan, and those interactions have steadily declined over two planning phases.

And of the permitted logging area, the company typically exempts 30 to 40 percent from logging for a variety of reasons, including public opinion.

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“There is no tape (to indicate logging) in the field today,” Steneker said, adding that there will be another open house tomorrow at Blairmore and similar meetings for the next two years.

“Our actions will show that we are here to have meaningful conversations about obtainable items…we may not all be happy about it, but it is something we can live with.”

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West Fraser officials said it is too early to determine the volume of timber they will extract from the areas or how much it will be worth.

Being too close to logged areas affects trails: defenders

Peter questioned whether the challenge of meeting public expectations and avoiding seriously damaging a trail network that $6.5 million has been invested in will be worth it financially for West Fraser.

As currently presented, the logging plan would not only overlap trails, but, according to Peter, would leave many others very close to clear-cutting.

“A lot of trails would be on the edge of the block, with very unpleasant landscaping right next to it, but they don’t consider that to have affected the trail,” Peter said.

Jeff Woodgate said his Bragg Creek mountain bike training, guiding and transportation company would be just one of the local tourism-oriented businesses negatively affected by logging.

“My business could be successful, but as a personal user of these trails I will be greatly affected,” he said.

The GROW Kananaskis group will hold a protest walk/bike ride on Moose Mountain Road on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

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X (Twitter): @BillKaufmannjrn

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