Horse Lake in the Ghost Watershed at-risk from Clearcut Logging

In Alberta, our forests have long been managed for profitability over ecological sustainability - and projects like the 298 hectares of logging planned at Horse Lake are prime examples of the fundamental flaws in our current forest management system.

The logging, which is slated for fall of this year in the beautiful and ecologically-rich Ghost Watershed, has been approved to proceed at a breakneck pace, with the public none the wiser.

The Ghost Watershed is a critical headwaters ecosystem on the Eastern Slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains. It plays a key role in providing and regulating the water that eventually flows into the Bow River and downstream to Calgary, providing us with drinking water and mitigating the severity of floods and droughts. The region also supports an incredible diversity of wildlife.

Sadly, this region has been, and continues to be, threatened by large-scale, clearcut forestry.

Horse Lake, a particularly special area of the Ghost that is designated as a Key Wildlife and Biodiversity Zone and is a popular hiking destination, has already suffered from an irresponsible amount of clearcutting in recent years - since 2013, approximately 820 hectares of forest have already been logged (roughly the equivalent of 2,025 football fields, for reference!) within 3 kilometres of Horse Lake - and it is now at further risk from newly accelerated harvest plans that will remove huge swaths of the remaining forested area this year.

Should the logging proceed, the wetlands found in this area - which contain a diverse complex of fens, marshes and streams - will be liable to dry out. Not only do these wetlands filter water and moderate stream flow in the region, but they also provide key habitat for wildlife including wolves, bears, and moose.

The surrounding streams and creeks are also critical habitat for native trout, like the Bull and Westslope Cutthroat Trout, both of which are designated as threatened under the Species at Risk Act. Sensitive species like native trout are profoundly impacted by the sedimentation that results from erosion caused by harvesting, haul roads and stream crossings - and populations of these species have already been identified in Aura Creek, which is less than 50 metres from the planned harvest area.

Forestry can have a place in the Eastern Slopes; however, it is not appropriate everywhere.

Under a truly sustainable system of forestry, this area would be recognized for its high ecological and social values and be off limits to harvest. Unless we act now to stop this logging from happening, we risk losing one of an ever-decreasing number of refuges for biological diversity in southern Alberta - in addition to continuing to silently endorse the current unsustainable model of forestry in the province.

Write to the Government of Alberta today and demand clearcut logging in the Horse Lake area of the Ghost Watershed halt immediately.