December 1, 2003

Industrial "footprint" reduced in northwest Alberta forest unit

An entire forest management unit in northwestern Alberta will be set aside as permanently unavailable for timber allocation in order to focus on a diverse range of other forest values. The result, says the provincial government, will be a unique balance in public land management.

"What we've done is greatly reduce the future industrial footprint covering close to 350,000 hectares of forest. We can now place a greater emphasis on the environmental features of the area while ensuring a balanced approach to the continued oil and gas activity," said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mike Cardinal. "The government has recognized some of the values and priorities in this area, including watershed management, caribou recovery and grizzly bear management--and we will be able to build on our ongoing efforts here."

The area is designated as the P-8 forest management unit, just north of the Chinchaga Wildland Provincial Park. A government team will be established for the P-8 area early in 2004 to begin developing a management strategy. Public consultation will be part of the process.

The decision was announced as part of the department's commitment to allocate the unallocated timber in northern Alberta. Key stakeholders and local MLAs have been consulted as part of the process of allocating 80,000 cubic metres (m*) of deciduous timber northwest of Grande Prairie, 167,000 m* southeast of Grande Prairie and just over 63,000 m* northwest of Peace River.

An additional 103,600 m* of coniferous timber in the Fort McMurray and Slave Lake area will be allocated to local industry. All allocations come with the obligation to reforest and are within the provincial annual allowable cut limits of 23.1 million m*.

Timber allocations are made on a continuing basis, taking into account factors such as opportunities for local and regional growth, employment, providing the best possible return for Albertans, enhancing opportunities for local operators and impacts from wildfire and oil and gas activity.

More information is available from Donna Babchishin at Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, 780/427-8636

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