10/29/2015 11:37 EDT | Updated 10/29/2015 11:59 EDT

Spray Lakes Clearcutting Could Hurt Economy, Raise Flood Risk, Say Critics

First time I have been down this road, well worth the trip

CALGARY — The Alberta government's approval of clearcutting in a popular recreational area west of Calgary has raised the ire of local residents who fear the move could result in large fluctuations in water levels and potential flooding.

Spray Lakes Sawmills has been authorized to cut a nine square kilometre section of land in the south Ghost area over the next few years.

Dave Richards' of Saddle Peak Trail Rides believes the increase in logging will have an impact on the picturesque landscape and the bottom line of his family business as he refuses to guide visitors through clearcut land.

Critics of the plan say logging will hurt the local economy and ecology while removing a natural flooding buffer.

Kevin Van Tighem, author and conservationist, says the risk of flooding will be increased while the ability of locals to have water in the summer when they need it will be reduced.

Officials with the mill say flood concerns are misplaced.

"The timber harvesting we do does not impact the flooding,'' says Ed Kulcsar, Woodlands manager for Spray Lakes Sawmills.

"There's been different task force groups that have come together to that same conclusion.''

Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier says everything being done is within the rules.

The majority of logs will be turned into construction lumber while the remainder will be sold for mulch and fence posts.

(CTV Calgary)

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