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Nature Park Logging Plan Update (Aug. 2005)

August 26, 2005

Below is a map showing the areas of the Nature Park and Nordic Trails that will be logged this winter.  Our description of the logging plan is below the map.  Please note that the Sunflower Hill logging plan map that was created last year can be found farther down this page and is not shown as part of this map.
Areas shaded pink will be thinned to open forest and areas shaded blue will be thinned and replanted if necessary to achieve managed forest densities. White areas will not be logged.  (Red, orange and green areas are in the Nordic Ski Trails.) To download a pdf version of this map that will allow you to zoom in for a better look, click here.  Please note that not all aspects of the plan have been finalized and some minor changes may occur.

Logging Plan Overview 


    Nature Park Society representatives have worked with Tembec to map important values in the area. This has resulted in the designation of  no-logging zones in riparian reserve areas and wildlife tree patches through Whitetail Valley, around Second Eimer’s, Romantic Ridge, Duck Pond, Jimmy Russell Road, Creek and Flume Trails and other areas. There is one no-logging zone specifically to protect the mountain ladyslipper patch on Duck Pond Trail.  
     The presence of the endangered Williamson Sapsucker near the junction of Skid Road and Duck Pond Trail has prompted the creation of a 60 hectare Wildlife Management Area where minimal logging will occur.  (This area may require some hand treatment in the future to reduce fire risk.) There are also significant areas of the Park (on Myrtle Mountain, Bear Mountain and the hillside above lower Blarchmont) where low timber values and/or steep terrain make logging unfeasible. 
      In the southern end of the Park, on Sunflower Hill and up to the bench at the far end of Whitetail Valley, we are planning to restore the open grassland habitat that low intensity wildfires maintained before European settlers began controlling them.  Large areas in this part of the Park (shown in pink on the map) will be thinned significantly, leaving scattered large ponderosa pine and western larch. In areas designated as open range there will be as few as 50 trees per hectare remaining. In those designated as open forest the spacing will be around 250 - 300 trees per hectare.  (If  300 trees are evenly spaced in one hectare, there would be just over 6 metres or 20 feet between trees. The actual spacing in the Park will be somewhat more random allowing for clumps of trees and open meadows.) Once logging is completed and fuel levels reduced, prescribed burns will be carried out in these areas under the guidance of Fire Ecologist, Bob Gray, to stimulate regrowth of important browse species and maintain the open spacing of trees. 
       In the rest of the Park, (shown in blue on the map) the desired tree density is called "managed forest" or 700-1200 stems / hectare.  Lodgepole pine will be the main target species of the logging but dense stands of western larch and Douglas fir (less than 10 and 12 inches in diameter respectively) will also be thinned. All the larger Douglas fir, larch, spruce and alpine fir will be retained.  In areas where there is nothing but lodgepole pine, large openings with few residual trees will be created and some tree planting may have to be done.  
      Most of the tree cutting in the Park will be done with feller-bunchers which can punch down through the snow and snip the trees off without leaving much stump.  The felled trees will be dragged to the roads or landings by conventional rubber tired and tracked skidders. The possibility of using horse logging to thin the Park has been  discussed. Concerns about the need to build more haul roads to compensate for the horses inability to skid logs long distances, to complete the work in a timely fashion and to avoid the spread of non-native plant seeds all led to the decision to use machines. 

Bob Gray, fire ecologist and Ted Antifeau, Endangered Species Biologist examine the Williamson's Sapsucker Wildlife Management Area.

 

Road building and landings 


       Logging generally requires two different kinds of roads. Haul roads are wide, well built roads used by large trucks to carry logs out of the area. Skid trails are narrow roads built to a lower standard (in the winter sometimes built with both snow and dirt) and are meant for brief use by skidders dragging logs to landings. 
      Landings are cleared areas along roads where trees are de-limbed and topped and the debris heaped in slash piles. The logs are temporarily stacked and then loaded on logging trucks to be taking out of the area. Slash piles are usually allowed to dry out for a season and are then burned. 
        Roads, skid trails and landings are a major source of ground disturbance and the goal of the Nature Park logging plan is to minimize their construction and reclaim them as soon as possible after logging is finished. Some of the existing old roads in the Park will be upgraded to haul roads, others will be used as skid trails to avoid building new ones. All of the footpaths in the Park will be flagged with “no machine zone” ribbons to prevent skidders from using them as skid trails.  (However, skidders will have to cross these trails in some areas to get the logs to the haul roads.)

In areas of the Park where logging will occur, the footpaths have been marked with these ribbons to prevent their use as skid trails.

 

There are 4 main flows of timber in the Nature Park logging plans. 
         1. In the Sunflower Hill area which was planned last year, Jimmy Russell Road will be used for a haul road from the St. Mary Road to a point just west of the Campground trail intersection. From there, a short new piece of road will be built to a large landing between Jimmy Russell Road and the power line.  That will be the only landing in the Sunflower Hill area. 
      Skid trails will lead out from the landing to the north, south and west and a further skid trail will be built across the slope of Sunflower Hill at the bottom of the steepest pitch which will connect with Duck Pond Trail.  A section of Duck Pond Trail up to the top of Sunflower Hill will be used by the skidder to avoid building another trail. Trees will be skidded to the landing and processed there, which will result in a large slash pile which will likely be burned later in the year. We would prefer to see this pile chipped and taken away for hog fuel to avoid the impacts on soils and air, but that would require doubling or tripling the size of the landing to accommodate chip trucks. 
       The landing, skid roads and new section of haul road will be recontoured and seeded as soon as the logging is finished. 
       2.  In the west , central  and northern portions  of the Park (and the Nordic Trail area)  Tembec will be trucking whole trees out of the area to a large landing near Matthew Creek. The limbing and topping will be done at that location and will generate enough debris to make a chipping operation economically possible. All the trees from the lower slopes of Bear Mountain including the flat at the top of Jimmy Russell Road, the hillsides above Whitetail Valley and the area close to Trickle Creek Golf course will all be trucked whole to that landing. This will avoid the creation of many small landings and numerous slash piles.  The roads that will be used are: 
       To the west of Sunflower Hill, a haul road will be built across the slope above the private land and power line. That road will fork to allow access a wider area and when logging is done it will be recontoured and seeded. 
      Above this area, at the west end of Whitetail Valley and the top of Jimmy Russell Road, a new section of haul road will be built from the Boulevard across the flats to Jimmy Russell. This piece of road will not be reclaimed and will become the new emergency vehicle route in that part of the Park.  The old section of Jimmy Russell that goes through the wet area by the creek will remain as a footpath.

Building a new section of haul road from the Boulevard across the flat willavoid having to upgrade this part of Jimmy Russell Road.

 

The main haul road for the trees from the Nordic Trails and the north end of the Park will be the Army Road.  This road will be upgraded from the bottom of Bear Trail to north of Myrtle Junction.  The meadow area just west of Myrtle Junction will be avoided by routing the road on an old logging road against the north slope of Whitetail Valley which comes out at the bottom of Richardson’s Sidehill.  Mary’s Lunchroom will also be avoided by the haul road by using the very bottom section of Bear trail and building a new connector out to the Boulevard.  Both these new sections of road will be maintained as part of the emergency vehicle access. A temporary haul road will be built from the Upper Army Road to the Nordic Trails near the Lower Cardiac Arrest to bring all the trees from the Nordic area down through the Park and out to Matthew Creek for processing. This road will be recontoured and seeded when the logging is done.  
        A number of skid roads will also be built and then reclaimed in this area, but their locations have not yet been mapped. We will update this information as soon as possible. 
       3. Trees in the Duck Pond Trail area, adjacent to Forest Crowne will be skidded into Forest Crowne and no haul roads or landings will be built in that part of the Park. 
      4. Trees along the lower Army Road below Pat Morrow Trail and out to the Gravel Pit will be skidded on the lower Army Road to the first gravel pit where they will be processed.  We have some grave concerns about the potential spread of noxious weed seeds back into the Park by using this route and will need to closely monitor these areas after the logging. 

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