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Upper Highwood Logging on Pause

February 21, 2024

This breathtaking view is still at risk. Photo © A. Toner, @thebugparade on Instagram

The controversial logging plan in the Upper Highwood of Kananaskis is on hold, for now.

West Fraser Cochrane (formerly Spray Lake Sawmills) has announced its intention to pause the project that was set to begin earlier this winter and continue next year. Based on the company’s website update, West Fraser still plans to log this area in the future.

This pause is welcome, and we are glad to see that West Fraser is taking the time to consult with concerned groups. However, we hope the company will reconsider these logging plans altogether given the outstanding natural value of these forests. Logging this area will likely have negative impacts on threatened bull trout, the recreational value of the Upper Highwood, and the integrity of Alberta’s headwaters. These forests are worth much more standing than they are as timber, especially in light of the current drought conditions.

West Fraser has also confirmed it will not be using the bridge built over the Highwood River without the appropriate permits from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) until West Fraser has had discussions about the issue with DFO. We are still waiting to hear the details of the department’s investigation into the Highwood River bridge.

Although the pause is not permanent, it is still a win for Albertans, many of whom raised their voices in opposition to the Upper Highwood logging plans. This speaks to the importance of the public getting involved in environmental issues. Thank you to everyone who spoke out, wrote a letter to their MLA, donated to an environmental organization, or talked to their friends and family about this issue. Please continue to raise your voice for the Upper Highwood, and advocate for much-needed changes to forest management in Alberta.

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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