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Area residents voice opposition to logging plan for Highwood River valley
Opposition to a plan to log a prominent part of Kananaskis Country is growing and a new poll shows the nearly 70 percent of respondents are against the idea.
A patch of forest near Highwood Junction is scheduled to be logged later this year and the plan will change the southern entrance to Kananaskis Country for years to come.
A recent poll, commissioned by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, found 68 percent of people surveyed in Calgary and nearby communities are opposed to the logging plan.
"Many people in Calgary and surrounding communities already believe that Kananaskis Country is already protected when in fact only just over half of it is protected as either an ecological reserve or provincial park. There's a big gap between people's understanding of what actually goes on in Kananaskis Country and what happens on the ground," said Stephen Legault, from Yellowstone to Yukon.
Many people are concerned that only a portion of Kananaskis is protected from industrial use, including logging.
Black Diamond and Turner Valley administrators recently voiced their opposition and Okotoks is drafting a letter calling on the province to reconsider the location of the clear cutting project.
"Perhaps the province should review the decision to allow the clear cutting that’s immediately adjacent to that highway, perhaps moving it over by a ridge would be more beneficial," said Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson, in a telephone interview with CTV News.
The work will be done by an Okanogan contractor and the wood will be exported to British Columbia.
Oniel Carlier, the Agriculture Minister, previously defended the logging plan by a B.C contractor and responded to the poll saying…
"We appreciate this information and what Albertans have to say about protecting our forests. We will analyze this data as we continue to work to ensure a thoughtful and sustainable approach to forest management that balances the economic, social and environmental needs of our communities in the Kananaskis region and across the province."
Some experts say the forest won’t be the same if the plan goes ahead.
"Often they're hotter because there’s less canopy cover, they're drier, the winds move through more quickly and it doesn't create the same type of habitat that it does when you have these larger, old growth forests," said Hilary Young, Ecologist for Y2Y.
The logging at Highwood Junction is scheduled to begin later this year and recreational users are organizing to try and change the plans.
Of those surveyed, only 15 percent were in favour of the proposed logging plan for the Highwood River valley.
For more information on the Y2Y poll, click HERE.