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AWA to AESRD on Southern Rockies Watershed Project Logging in Upper Star Creek Valley

June 11, 2013

June 11, 2013

Bruce Mayer
Assistant Deputy Minister for Forestry
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
10th Floor, Petroleum Plaza S.T.
9915 – 108 St. NW
Edmonton, AB T5K 2G8
Email: bruce.mayer@gov.ab.ca

Re: Southern Rockies Watershed Project Logging in Upper Star Creek Valley

Dear ADM Mayer,

AWA is asking you to put a stop to a “science experiment” proposed for the headwaters of Alberta’s Castle.

As we understand, by this fall, a licence to clearcut 180 hectares of the upper Star Creek valley, just south of the Crowsnest Pass is expected to be granted. The clearcutting will be completed as part of the Southern Rockies Watershed Project, spearheaded by Dr. Uldis Silins, a professor at the University of Alberta’s Forest Hydrology lab, Department of Renewable Resources.

The purpose behind the project is to conduct “research on the impacts of forest management strategies on watershed values in the eastern slopes headwaters region.” Simply put, the plan is to clearcut the slopes, while measuring water volumes in the creek to see whether this causes runoff levels to increase, in essence “creating” water.

The first question that comes to mind is whether this research is needed at all, especially since we already have a pretty good idea what the outcomes will be. This project closely mirrors a 2011 study done by John Pomeroy with the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Hydrology. That study, which had similar goals and scope, was conducted in Kananaskis Country’s Marmot Creek basin, barely 100 miles north of Star Creek. Yet Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) seem to believe it is time to run the experiment again.

This raises a second question: why? Given the history of logging along the southern Eastern Slopes, we believe the Alberta public has cause to be dubious of any rationale that is given for clearcutting these forests. Only eight months ago AESRD announced a halt to logging within the Castle, yet this adjacent project slated for the same sensitive ecosystem, pays no apparent heed to that announcement.

AWA believes Star Creek should not be logged. The natural and ecological values of the Castle have been recognized time and again, and they are why AESRD very appropriately halted logging there in the first place. An experiment such as this, which can be expected to tell us just what we already know, does nothing to change that principle.

We are asking that AESRD halt this project and not issue the associated licences. We believe that Albertans do not want to see clearcuts in the Castle, whatever the reason.

We will appreciate your timely response.

Yours truly,
ALBERTA WILDERNESS ASSOCIATION

Sean Nichols, Conservation Specialist

In the past I've seen chaos in the hills. And because I study cumulative effects, I know that everything is related. So I've come to realize that there is a big picture and we won't get there unless we plan along the way.
- Roger Creasey
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