A pair of trumpeter swans has returned to Kangienos Lake in the Ghost Valley, raising residents’ hopes that the birds will halt the logging planned in the immediate area.

The large birds, which are a species of special concern in Alberta, returned earlier this month after spending time there last year.

“They’re here,” said Lori Haywood, a landowner in the area and a spokeswoman for the Stop Clearcut Logging group. “They’ve been here for six years.

“We’re hoping the birds’ presence will make the case that they should protect at least that part of the lake.”

Kangienos Lake is located in the middle of a Spray Lakes Sawmills logging site in the Ghost Valley, where there are plans to harvest about 900 hectares over the next three years.

Duncan MacDonnell, a spokesman with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said biologists are keeping a close eye on the lake.

“They are out there this week, trying to get a sense of it,” he said, noting they won’t immediately be able to determine whether the swans are nesting. “They will use a concealed location to determine if this is going to go on for the next little bit.”

Either way, he said there won’t be any immediate impact on the birds.

“No timber harvesting will be starting there until the fall anyways,” said MacDonnell, noting Spray Lakes Sawmills would be required to follow a set of operating ground rules for trumpeter swans if they are nesting in the area.

The rules, which were provided to the Herald, prevent the company from harvesting, hauling or road building within 800 metres of the lake between April and September.

They also prevent any timber harvesting within 200 metres of the lake, as well as several other provisions to protect the birds.

Trumpeter swans were recently removed from the province’s threatened species list, but they are still considered a species of special concern in Alberta.

It’s believed there are about 1,700 of the swans across Alberta.