New CPAWS report reveals proposed logging will have direct impacts on caribou and trout habitat in old-growth forest near Willmore Wilderness Park
September 25, 2021
Edmonton, AB– A new CPAWS report reveals stark impacts on species at risk habitat for proposed logging in an intact piece of forest near Grande Cache, Alta. CPAWS Northern Alberta became aware of plans by West Fraser (Hinton) to log roughly 2,660 hectares of timber in the A La Peche caribou range when local trappers flagged concerns over the impacts on threatened woodland caribou and endangered Athabasca rainbow trout.
The CPAWS analysis found that West Fraser’s proposed logging would result in a loss of 934 hectares of currently undisturbed caribou habitat—a 97% loss in undisturbed caribou habitat within that planning unit alone.
“It would be incredibly short-sighted to lose this much undisturbed caribou habitat at a time when efforts are underway across the province to stem the decline of these herds and aggressive wolf population controls are in place in this very location,” says Gillian Chow-Fraser, Boreal Program Manager with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “The Government of Alberta should be doing everything it can to conserve the intact habitat we have right now—not continuing to chip away at it.”
According to Alberta’s Draft Range Plan (2017), only 12% of the A La Peche winter range is considered ‘undisturbed’, meaning any existing piece of undisturbed habitat is highly valuable and strongly contributes to meeting federal recovery strategy objectives.
The report indicates there would be additional impacts to important caribou areas, intact forest landscapes, old-growth stands, and potential critical habitat for Athabasca rainbow trout.
The planning unit for the logging, or ‘compartment’, has important conservation characteristics, including: 965 hectares of undisturbed caribou critical habitat, 1,826 hectares of an Intact Forest Landscape, and 79 km of Athabasca rainbow trout streams that potentially contain critical habitat.
“The proposed volume and intensity of logging is simply not appropriate in this area, it is far too important to species at risk,” says Kecia Kerr, Executive Director. “We are asking the Government of Alberta defer and re-assess these logging plans, so it can be considered through the current sub-regional planning process for this region.”
Members of the public that are concerned about these potential impacts are encouraged to send a letter to officials here. You can also read the full report here.