The Alberta chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is concerned about the proposed logging of the Highwood and Cataract Creek areas of Kananaskis Country. We are united in the belief that our freedom to hunt and fish depends on habitat. While many Albertans enjoy hunting and fishing on a range of landscapes, there is something special – even magical – about hunting deep in the backcountry or fishing on a remote river.
As such, the habitats of the fish and wildlife populations are of primary concern to our group. Many treasured fish and wildlife species, such as the threatened cutthroat and bull trout, grizzly bear and bighorn sheep thrive in wilderness. Others, like elk and mule deer, benefit from un-fragmented forest areas.
These very same habitats are under serious threat, given that the logging plans for the Kananaskis area include building new roads and clearcutting large areas of forest. It is obvious to anyone that this logging and road construction will degrade fish and wildlife habitat quality, increase sediment in streams, and fragment habitats. For example, Zephyr Creek, which is adjacent to some of the proposed cutblocks in the upper Highwood area, provides critical habitat for the threatened westslope cutthroat trout. This iconic fish, which was once common in Alberta, has decreased to only 5% of it’s historic range, and today, most cutthroat trout are limited to the upper reaches of streams and rivers of Alberta’s eastern slopes, such as the Highwood. We find it striking that the Government of Alberta’s Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan states that sediment going into streams from developments such as roads and cutblocks are threatening cutthroat trout, yet clear cutting plans were approved for this very same habitat.
From an economic standpoint, there is equally as important value in maintaining the area's natural beauty, as it has greeted modern and historical hunters and anglers for many generations. The very same area attracts many out of province hunters and anglers, hoping to partake in the bounties that Albertans have enjoyed since time immemorial, and helps sustain the local outfitters, hotels and restaurants. As well, many people who do not fish or hunt come to this area to hike and enjoy the natural beauty.
We are asking the government to provide permanent protection for these areas of Kananaskis to ensure the continuance of high quality backcountry hunting and angling opportunities and protect the habitat of our important fish and wildlife species.