298 hectares of clearcut logging slated for Horse Lake in the Ghost Watershed in Fall 2023
Horse Lake and the nearby Aura Sand Hills are a unique and special corner of the Ghost. Horse Lake is designated as part of a Key Wildlife and Biodiversity Zone — and it’s home to an incredible range of species, including wolves, moose, bears, trumpeter swans and threatened native trout like the Bull and Westslope Cutthroat.
The area also features a diverse complex of wetlands, including fens, marshes, and streams — all of which will be liable to dry out should logging proceed. These wetlands filter water, moderate stream flow, and provide key habitat for the aforementioned critters.
HALT THE CLEARCUT
Mapping the Proposed Logging
Not only is Horse Lake a popular hiking destination, it's also home to an incredible range of wildlife, including wolves, moose and at-risk native trout. It's already suffered from an irresponsible amount of clearcutting. Since 2013, approximately 820 hectares of forest have already been logged (roughly the equivalent of 2,025 football fields, for reference).
Importantly, Waiparous Creek, to the northeast, and Aura Creek are federally-identified areas of potential Critical Habitat for the at-risk westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. Some of the areas that have already been harvested are extremely close to these key streams and creeks.
In many areas, Aura Creek is less than 50 metres from the planned harvest. This is much less than the 100 metre buffer we know is needed — as a minimum! — to help safeguard land and animals from the detrimental impacts of logging at this scale. What's more, the existing harvest, and future plans, include no buffers on wetlands and leave minimal forest cover along the wetland boundaries.
While questions were raised about the company's Annual Operating Plan (AOP) — which includes the harvest blocks at Horse Lake — it was ultimately approved.
The Government also stated to local community members they were unable to take into account public concerns during the AOP approvals process, indicating that this feedback could only be incorporated during the Forest Management Plan approvals process — which, it's worth noting, only happens once every 10 years.
The logging, which has been approved to proceed at a breakneck pace with the public none the wiser, would likely lead to severe erosion, destroy the hiking trails in the area, and opening the sensitive ecosystem up to illegal motorized access through new road building.