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Research growing into practice There is a marked shift in emphasis for the role of the Foothills Model Forest as it moves into Phase III, its third five-year funding cycle.

ustainability within our forests, and our ability to benefit from them, remain key objec-


tives,” says Board Chair Kevin Van Tighem. But increasingly, the research partnership is taking the lessons it has learned and showing stakeholders far and wide how those lessons can

usefully be applied on the ground. “We will be putting together significant numbers of demonstration projects over the next few months that will show exactly how far we have come,” Van Tighem says. The shift from a research and knowledge-development focus in the first two phases of Foothills Model Forest to application of that work via technology transfer makes sense. “Going into Phase III, we are at the stage where we can capitalize on the gains we made in our first ten years. Those gains include strong working relationships with land managers and other stakeholders. Those relationships were not established a decade ago.” He recalls why the model forest was initially established. “Fifteen years ago, people were concerned we could not sustain Canada’s forests in the face of all the various demands placed on the landscape. Now, we can see possibilities that did not exist then. We can look confidently at the future, knowing we can maintain and even restore some of the values that we may have lost.” The Foothills Model Forest’s new priorities are reflected in a new logo and accompanying tag line research growing into practice. “We are transferring the knowledge we have gained into the hands of people who can use it, in practice and in policy,” adds Lisa Risvold Jones, communications and extension manager. Source: Lisa Risvold Jones, 780-865-8329 Email:

LEAF THROUGH THIS... With the launch of a publication explaining a half-century of Alberta’s forest management, the Foothills Model Forest is opening its books, so to speak. Thanks to the model forest’s Adaptive Forest Management Program, and the collective talent of three men well-known in Alberta’s forest industry, Learning from the Forest: A Fifty Year Journey Towards Sustainable Forest Management signifies an innovative way for the Foothills Model Forest to “spread the word.” The book is a collaborative effort of lead author Bob Bott of Calgary, Bob Udell, president of the Foothills Model Forest

(manager of policy at Weldwood); and Peter Murphy, University of Alberta Professor Emeritus of Forestry. Bott called it the “biography of a landscape” but the book is much more than that, encompassing the evolution of the framework of forest management in the forests around Hinton for over half a century. Murphy calls it a good-news story. “It is one where people of good faith and good intentions come together to resolve a lot of critical management problems. I believe Hinton’s earliest foresters were quite visionary.”

Jasper National Park is committed to restoring and maintaining the ecological integrity of its land base. Prescribed burns are used to renew and restore its forests, and protect the community and surrounding lands from catastrophic wildfire. Natural disturbance research guides the Park's prescribed burn program. Photo Credit: Cleone Todgham, Parks Canada


Highway 40 North is a huge living laboratory ou could call it the largest laboratory


it made this “the perfect” choice, Andison says.

on the continent, maybe even the

“We wanted an area that had a lot of forest

world. The Foothills Model Forest

values, values that might seem to be in con-

Natural Disturbance Program’s Highway 40

flict,” says Andison. The location also allows

North Demonstration Project spans 70,000

researchers to “deliberately cross over” admin-

hectares, encompasses four administrative

istrative boundaries. “The essence of truly sus-

areas, and will test the natural disturbance

tainable forest management is that you’re

approach to forest management. If successful

going to have to do cross-border planning,”

it may lead to integrated holistic forest man-

says Andison. “Water quality and caribou do

agement planning that manages for ecological,

not stop at administrative boundaries.”

economic and social values over the long term. The


tion site was estab-

The Highway 40 North Demonstration Project, spanning 70,000 hectares, crosses four administrative boundaries in the forested lands between Hinton and Grande Cache.

In addition, the Highway 40 demo site has aesthetic value as a view corridor; and is a high recreation-use area.

lished about a year

Most of the topography of the site is typi-

ago by the Foothills

cal foothills landscape, and the forest is domi-

Model Forest Natural

nated by older lodgepole pine. “This is an area

Disturbance Program,

that has not had a lot of natural disturbance

and will ultimately

activity for some time,” Andison explains. In

be a manifestation of

addition to its economic value, the timber pro-



vides critical caribou habitat. One of the goals

leading-edge aspects

of the project is “to see if we can manage the

of sustainable forest

risk of fire in that area through creating a dis-

management research and thought. Dr. David

turbance plan for the next few decades.”

Andison, program leader, promises tremendous

“We are also going to do the best job we can

benefits in terms of education, creating a com-

to integrate with oil and gas activities,” he said.

mon foundation of understanding about natu-

“It has been very encouraging to have received

ral disturbance and affecting sustainable for-

such positive responses from different indus-

est management planning and policy.

try partners and to know that they are willing

Bisected by Highway 40, the demonstration

to work with us.”

site takes in three forest management areas (Alberta Newsprint Company, Weldwood of Canada Limited, Hinton Division, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited) as well as 10,000 hectares of a





Wilderness Park. That is just one of the reasons

Source: David Andison, 604-939-0830 Email:


Culture studies aims to ease tensions

Photo Credit: Terry Garvin stablishing a process to ease ten-


sions around Aboriginal land disputes before they happen is no

easy task. But the Foothills Model Forest’s 11-month-old



Initiative program will make a significant positive contribution to this issue. Aboriginal community coordinator Bob Phillips says the initiative has reached a data-hosting agreement with

How will woodland caribou and other species react to a natural disturbance approach to forest management?

the Foothills Model Forest, as well as being poised to sign the first four agree-

Natural Disturbance Outreach

ments to begin Traditional Culture

On another front, the Foothills Model Forest’s

Studies in Aboriginal communities. There

people interpret that research.”

Natural Disturbance Program is focusing on

Recognizing that establishing a consistent

are 17 Aboriginal communities with tra-

education. It is taking its message, findings and

source of information and a common language

ditional use areas within the Foothills

tools to those who will ultimately use research

are critical to successful uptake of the research

Model Forest boundaries.

findings to manage the forest in ways that

results, the Foothills Model Forest is developing

Traditional Culture Studies will docu-

emulate how natural forces have shaped

a series of short courses for its partners. “We

ment the Aboriginal communities’ ties to

Alberta forests for millennia.

will bring everyone up to a common level of

the land. “We are on the cusp of exciting

The program has gathered data on natural

understanding,” Andison says. “Developing a

developments in a very arduous process,”

disturbance patterns on the landbase for eight

common language will be a huge step for-

Phillips said. “Building and fostering rela-

years, and is in the process of creating an


It is increasingly important as the

tionships of trust takes time. To date, this

exciting demonstration project designed to

model forest’s influence starts to spread far

has been the focus of the program –

inform policy and operational innovation. But

beyond its borders.

establishing working relationships with

first its leaders want to make sure all stake-

“It is a very wise investment for our part-

holders share a common understanding of the

ners to give as many people – be it the public,

principles and implications involved.

planners, or scientists - as much of the same

Aboriginal communities, industry and government.”

“We are becoming much more education

grounding as possible. Then, when they are

Source: Bob Phillips, 780-865-8341

focused,” says program leader David Andison.

faced with a sound idea or concept to imple-


“We literally have a wealth of research input,

ment or integrate, it will fall on the ears of

so one of the current focal points is on how

people who understand the language.”

Natural disturbance in riparian areas takeholders can look forward to a better


tion and variation of functions of debris com-

understanding of how and why to emu-

pared to stream size and slope.

late natural disturbance patterns in ripar-

The results will enable Foothills Model

ian streamside areas, thanks to the Foothills

Forest researchers to compare current manage-

Source: Rich McCleary, 780-865-8383

Model Forest Fish and Watershed Program.

ment strategies to natural patterns, and pro-


Model forest biologist Richard McCleary says

pose some alternatives.

a collaborative research project with the

“Our expectation is that an improved under-

Natural Disturbance Program - Managing

standing of how natural disturbances influence

Forest lands immediately adjacent to streams

Disturbance in Riparian Areas – is supported by

the structure of small stream systems will sup-

are not immune to forest fire. Biologists are

the Chisholm/Dogrib Fires Research Initiative

port new operational guidelines that make eco-

learning more about how dead trees can

and partners such as Sunpine Forest Products

logical sense,” says McCleary.

influence the stream’s ecological function.

Ltd., Spray Lake Sawmills and Weldwood of Canada Limited, Hinton Division. The project commenced two years ago. “Riparian areas are not immune from fires,” McCleary says. “In emulating natural disturbance in these areas, we hope to learn more about how different factors, such as a dead tree falling in the stream, can influence a variety of important ecological functions. These could be anything from sediment storage to pool formation to providing hiding cover for fish.” Researchers are looking at such things as the functions and volume of in-stream wood generated by a fire; functions of this new wood compared to existing woody debris; and loca-

GIS tools showcased The Foothills Model Forest celebrated GIS Day 2003 on November 20th. GIS Day is held annually across North America during the National Geographic Society's Geography Awareness Week. During the event, 23 grade seven students from Hinton, Alberta, were exposed to a range of interactive demonstrations and presentations intended to increase their understanding of how GIS technology is being applied to the forests surrounding their community. “At the Foothills Model Forest, we are beginning to develop collaborative research initiatives that incorporate findings from a range of program areas,” noted Christian Weik, Foothills Model Forest GIS Coordinator. “For example, the Natural Disturbance and Fish and Watershed programs are working together to examine how forest fires influence stream channels. By leveraging the GIS technology available at the Foothills Model Forest, users of the software are able to analyze vast amounts of data and provide real-world solutions to very difficult aspects of sustainable forest management," noted Weik.


Years of detailed research now put to practical use fter a catastrophic 2003 fire season, the


quently received approval from Parks Canada,

FireSmart-ForestWise Communities pro-

FireSmart-ForestWise really started to pick up

gram is being supported more enthusi-


nity in Jasper National Park.

Métis Nation of Alberta to establish a seven-per-

astically than ever by all levels of the commu-

In October, an agreement was struck with the

Alan Westhaver, project manager, is excited

son crew to work throughout the winter season

about the progress of the initiative. Begun in

(to March 2004) on forest restoration and fuel

1999, and embraced as a Foothills Model Forest

management close to the

project in 2002, the FireSmart–ForestWise

townsite. The partnership,

Communities project has enjoyed strong public


buy-in from the outset. Its dual goal – to restore

National Park and the

ecological conditions for wildlife and reduce

Métis Nation of Alberta,

wildfire threats to residential and commercial

falls under a youth devel-

developments within the park – commenced

opment program so “at the

with lots of public information and a series of

same time as the crew is

small-scale demonstration sites (up to one

doing valuable work for us,

hectare in size) near the Jasper townsite and

they are also receiving

the Lake Edith Cottage Development. It’s now

training, knowledge and

well on its way to its ultimate destination, a

skills to aid in career devel-

large-scale operational phase that will encom-




pass a narrow fringe of forest (350 hectares)

“We have also reached an agreement with a

surrounding the town of Jasper and Lake Edith.

specialty logging firm to perform the very sensi-

Westhaver says one of the unexpected but

tive thinning work around the townsite and

hoped-for results of the project is now being

Lake Edith subdivision,” Westhaver adds. That

realized. “We have been getting a real surge of

work began in November, when freeze-up condi-

requests from people and businesses in the

tions arrived. “Our goal for this winter is to treat

townsite. Neighborhoods have gotten together

100 hectares of land (of the total 350 hectares),”

and want our assistance to do hazard reduction

he says.

and forest improvement work in their own

The Foothills Model Forest, the Municipality of

backyards.” An open house hosted in Jasper last

Jasper, Parks Canada, and ATCO Electric jointly

fall drew significant public input. “We received

sponsor the FireSmart–ForestWise Communities

a very good endorsement from the public for

project with support from the University of

the FireSmart–ForestWise approach,” Westhaver

Calgary and members of the Jasper Interface


Steering Team. The communities of Hinton and

FireSmart–ForestWise has become a commu-

Robb are also part of the FireSmart–ForestWise

nity based project, and not “just something we

Communities program that are being run by the

are doing for the community,” Westhaver adds.

Forest Protection Division of Alberta Sustainable

“People are getting involved and showing real

Resource Development.

enthusiasm for the merits of the program.” An environmental assessment completed last summer is guiding implementation of the FireSmart–ForestWise project. After the project

Source: Alan Westhaver, 780-852-6169

proceeded through public review and subse-


Community volunteers help clear fuels from the forest floor around the Lake Edith Cottage Development in Jasper National Park. Photo Credit: Parks Canada



Grizzly Bear Research Program personnel have handled 67 grizzlies and radio-collared 41 since the initiative began. The collars, which record the location of grizzly bears at regular intervals every day, have vastly increased researchers’ understanding of the bears’ habits and habitat needs. In 2003, researchers decided to take things to the next level and added digital cameras to the collars. The cameras are programmed to take a photo every hour during daylight hours. The timing of photographs is synchronized with the GPS collars, which take a location fix every hour – thus allowing researchers to identify the location of the images. Two cameras were deployed in mid-July, but had trouble with water leakage. Four days’ worth of digital images were retrieved from one of the collars, however, and work is now under way to update and test camera systems for the 2004 season. In the fall, the Grizzly Bear Research Program will focus on transferring its R&D to forest and resource managers. Through workshops and custom one-on-one training sessions, partners will be introduced to maps and models that can be used in operational and forest management planning. For more information about these initiatives contact Lisa Jones at 780-865-8329, or

APRIL 26-28: Forest Land Fish Conference II in Edmonton, Alberta. For more information visit

The second Forest Land Fish Conference: Land Management Practices Affecting Aquatic Ecosystems, will be held April 26 - 28, 2004, in Edmonton. The event will focus on the conservation of aquatic resources, particularly in boreal regions, with presentations on cumulative watershed effects, access management, riparian management and more. Multiple-use forested lands present an opportunity for varied stakeholders to collaborate on improving management practices. The April conference will be an excellent opportunity for researchers, resource managers and regulators, industry and other stakeholders to highlight some examples of successful collaboration on the landbase. Response to the initial Call for Papers was very positive, and it’s expected more than 300 professionals from industry and the academic community will attend. For more information, about the conference, visit, or call the conference managers at 1-877-436-0983 extension 229.

Box 6330 Hinton Alberta Canada T7V 1X6

JUNE 25 & 26 (tentative dates): Foothills Model Forest Annual General Meeting and Research Forum. Edmonton, Alberta. Contact Fran Hanington at 780-865-8330 or for more information. SUMMER 2004: Foothills Model Forest Interpretive Programs in Jasper National Park and William A. Switzer Provincial Park. In June, program topics and dates will be available at OCTOBER 2-6: CIF/IFC and SAF Joint Annual General Meeting and Convention, “One Forest Under Two Flags/Une forêt sous deux drapeaux”, Edmonton, Alberta. OCTOBER 6-7: CIF/IFC and SAF Joint Annual General Meeting Technical Field Workshops including a tour of the Foothills Model Forest and its sustainable forest management research. For more information about the CIF/IFC and SAF Joint Annual General Meeting, Convention and Technical Field Workshops please visit or

T: 780.865.8330 F: 780.865.8331

email: web:

In 1992, Natural Resources Canada, through the Canadian Forest Service, initiated Canada's Model Forest Program. The program has successfully built partnerships and conducted sustainable forest management research across Canada. Emphasis is now shifting to the application of model forest research and tools. The Foothills Model Forest, located in Hinton, Alberta, is an original member in the Canadian Model Forest Network. The sponsoring partners of the Foothills Model Forest are Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Canadian Forest Service, Jasper National Park and Weldwood of Canada Limited, Hinton Division. Each sponsor makes a five-year commitment to the organization. The land that each partner manages is included in the 2.75 million hectare Foothills Model Forest land base. Together these sponsors demonstrate their commitment to advancing sustainable forest management in Alberta and Canada.

FMF-006 Newsletter V3  

Email: Jasper National Park is committed to restoring and maintaining the ecological integrity of its land base. Prescr...