KNP Logging Nearing Completion
For several months now, crews working for Canfor have been logging in a large area southwest of Kimberley, including parts of the Nature Park. The work is being carried out to reduce the forest fire risk on the west side of town and has been nervously supported by the KNPS. Supported, because the machine thinning should restore the more open, natural forests that existed before humans began putting out fires more than a century ago, and nervously, because logging comes with potential impacts on soils, trails and aesthetics.
Logs decked on the landing just below Shapeshifter Trail.
Canfor's operations started at the Matthew Creek Forest Service Road in late fall and logging reached the Park boundary in December. It was very important to the KNPS that the machine work in the Park take place on snow and frozen ground to help prevent scarring and erosion. While roads, landings and some bladed skid trails have disturbed the soils and will require restoration, we are hopeful that much of the ground will be relatively unscathed. We will know for sure when the snow melts.
A bladed skid trail just above Shapeshifter Trail that will be recontoured and seeded this spring.
The hillsides along Shapeshifter Trail, the Boulevard and parts of Jimmy Russell Road and Bear Trail are going to look very different to Park users when those trails reopen. It will likely be a bit of a shock to those familiar with the old landscapes. While there are some significant reserves in wildlife tree patches where no logging has occurred, many areas now look much like the open forested parts of Sunflower Hill.
This is the new view looking west from the hairpin corner near the top ofJimmy Russell Road.
Right now, since the logging is fresh, things are a mess. Broken branches litter the ground and the trails will need some significant cleanup before they can be reopened. Canfor has committed to having its crews remove the debris as soon as the snow has melted this spring. The long-term approach for managing these more open forests and preventing them from filling in again is to use prescribed burns to consume the logging debris and kill any new seedlings before they can become dense forests. A burn strategy will need to be developed by the Forest Protection Branch, the City of Kimberley and KNPS in the coming years.
Above Shapeshifter Trail before thinning on the left and after thinning on the right
Canfor has also committed to completely recontouring and seeding its logging roads, landings and bladed skid trails in the Park. However, we have recently learned that the Ministry of Forests has asked them to leave the main roads in place for the time being. Apparently the Ministry is planning to do more fuel treatment in areas adjacent to those that have been logged by Canfor, some of which will be in the Park and Horse Barn Valley. The KNPS has been in contact with the Ministry and we expect to have meetings in late March or early April to discuss any future work.
Logging debris near the junction of Hoodoo View and Shapeshifter Trail.
In addition, there are some large piles of logging slash on the edges of the landings in the Park. These piles will either be chipped or ground for the pulp mill if that proves feasible, or burned. When that might happen is unclear and we await further word from Canfor.
Piles of slash on the landing just past the Army Road/Boulevard junction.
For now, until the snow melts and the debris can be removed, the trails that have been closed due to logging will remain closed. Please check out the KNPS Facebook page for updates as spring arrives and the cleanup proceeds.