Still Waiting for the Castle Parks

Pincher Creek, Alberta — On September 4, 2015, the Government of Alberta announced its intention to fully protect the Castle area in southwestern Alberta as a Provincial and Wildland Provincial Park.

“Albertans have asked for the Castle to be protected for more than four decades. In that span of time, it has been logged, drilled and damaged by off-highway vehicles but it is still an extraordinary place. Prioritizing restoration of the Castle is long overdue,” says Andrea Hlady of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC).

“A full year later, we’re still waiting,” says Joanna Skrajny of Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA). “And, unfortunately, many things that have been damaging the Castle for years, including off-highway vehicle use, continue.”

“We were encouraged by the decision to protect the Castle; we’re anxious now to ensure that the ecological values of the region are given priority,” says Stephen Legault of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).  “The Castle could be the jewel in the crown of Alberta’s parks system but before that can happen we need to put an end to off-highway vehicle use in the parks. Ending logging was a good first step; now we encourage the government to finish the job and fully protect the Castle.”

“Albertans want parks for quiet recreation so that wildlife and wilderness can thrive. Off-highway vehicle use is incompatible with those values,” says Katie Morrison of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS S. AB).

The Castle area, southwest of Pincher Creek, has the highest biodiversity in the province outside of Waterton Lakes National Park, and is an essential headwaters area for the Oldman River basin. The Castle also contains critical habitat for the threatened westslope cutthroat trout, and is recognized as core grizzly bear habitat. Conservationists and local citizens were delighted when the Castle Park announcement was made, and continue to pressure the government to follow through on its commitment to fully protect the area.

“It has been a year since the Castle parks were announced,” says Andrea Hlady, CCWC President. “We’re calling on the government to pass legislation and manage the proposed Castle Parks as protected areas. The longer we wait the more difficult and expensive it will be to restore the Castle to the standard that Albertans expect in their provincial parks.”

For more information:

Andrea Hlady Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition 403 875-8442
Joanna Skrajny Alberta Wilderness Association 403 283-2025
Stephen Legault Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative 403 688-2964
Katie Morrison Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society 403 232-6686