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Castle Watershed Campaign


Holding Off Logging in the Castle

Located in south-western Alberta in the Crown of the Continent (COC), the Castle is a mosaic of alpine lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys, old-growth forests and wetlands, and home to a wide variety of wildlife. The integrity of this watershed also plays an important role in the health of the trans-boundary COC ecosystem, not to mention Alberta's threatened grizzly bear population.

This summer, chainsaws threatened to shatter the Castle's solitude. A collective effort including the Crown of the Continent Conservation Initiative (CCCI), a consortium of organizations in which Y2Y staff plays a leadership role, led the charge to stop the logging and advocated to have the Castle declared a ‘Wildland Park.' If declared a ‘Wildland Park,' the Castle will remain a keystone piece of the Crown of the Continent, and an important addition to Y2Y's efforts to connect this large landscape.

The campaign generated enormous international pressure. Three rounds of advertisements in eight local papers as well as various outreach efforts by Y2Y, Mountain Equipment Co-op's (MEC) Big Wild, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Sierra Club of Canada, the National Parks Conservation Association and Natural Resource Defense Council generated an overwhelming response—more than 70,000 letters addressed to Alberta's Premier calling for the Castle's protection. Additionally, another targeted outreach initiative to MEC's Big Wild wide-spread customer base generated over another 9,000 letters to the Premier.

Castle Update – Logging Halted

In October of 2012, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development put years two and three of clear-cut logging in the Castle Special Place on hold pending the outcome of the ongoing South Saskatchewan Regional Land Use Plan.

Logging will take place in the Castle this fall, but will be limited to an area accessible by the existing roads built by Spray Lakes last winter. This logging will complete year one of the three-year logging plan. Spray Lake Sawmills will then decommission the access road.

Although this is a step in the right direction, Y2Y and our partners continue to work toward getting the Castle permanently protected.

What You Can Do

Why is the Castle Such a Special Place?

  • It is a water tower for much of Southern Alberta, providing one third of all water in the Oldman River Watershed, a tributary of the mighty South Saskatchewan River.
  • It has profound cultural and sacred value to the Nitsitapii, Piikani (Peigan), Siksika, Kainaiwa (Blood), and Blackfeet First Nations, as well as the Nakoda (Stoney) and K'tunaxa First Nations.
  • It is second only to Waterton Lakes National Park for species richness (number of species) in the province. It is home to over 120 provincially rare plant species and 59 species of mammals.
  • It encompasses Alberta's second largest montane landscape.
  • It is crucial to the state and health of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem and the greater Rocky Mountain ecosystems.
  • It is a critical connection for grizzly bears, and other wide ranging mammals, from Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to other protected areas in Canada.
  • It holds great recreational opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, backcountry camping, and wilderness discovery.


Read More

Grizzly CrossingFour Birds, One Stone (SSRP) - December 2012

Castle ProtestCastle Logging Halted - October 2012



Recent News


Jul 17, 2013 - Report calls for creation of wildland parks to protect headwaters, wildlife
Turning large tracts of land along the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies into parks is the best way to safeguard Alberta’s headwaters and protect the most vulnerable fish and wildlife, according to a report released Wednesday. Read more...

April 2, 2013 - Expert warns against commercial logging near Star Creek

A well-known forest scientist is concerned about a plan to allow logging near Star Creek — home to the threatened cutthroat trout — in the headwaters of the Crowsnest River valley, also prime grizzly bear habitat. Read more...

January 21, 2013 - Concerned residents reinforce objections to logging in the Castle wilderness region
If Spray Lakes Sawmills has its way, more than 3,750 truckloads of timber will be removed from the Castle area by 2014. Read more...

October 30, 2012 - Logging in Castle wilderness faces legal challenge next week
A legal challenge into logging in southwestern Alberta’s Castle wilderness will be heard Nov. 8 — despite the second two phases of the plan being put on hold by the province. Read more...

October 22, 2012 - Battle for the Castle: Environmentalists Hope to Limit Logging, Drilling
Environmental groups believe not enough is being done to protect the sensitive Castle Wilderness area of Southern Alberta. Read more...

October 11, 2012 - Province to Halt Logging in Castle After Completion of Spray Lakes Project
Those protesting the logging operations of Spray Lakes Sawmills near Beaver Mines, Alberta will be able to have their say during upcoming consultations on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP). Read more...

March 15, 2012 - Castle Logging in Prime Grizzly Bear Habitat
While the logging occurring in the Castle special place may seem well removed from the Bow Valley, it has wide-ranging implications for grizzly bears and their ability to move on the landscape. Read more...

January 24, 2012 - Redford Won't Stop Logging Project in Castle Region
A logging project in the Castle region of southwestern Alberta will go forward despite pleas from protesters calling for the entire area to be protected, says Premier Alison Redford. Read more...

October 5, 2011 - Castle Logging to Occur Despite Contrary Claims
The Castle Special Management Area, located in Crowsnest Pass, southwest of Cochrane, is scheduled to be logged by Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS), contrary to a recent statement by the Alberta Foothills Network (AFN) that indicated that there would be a delay in the effort due to public letters. Read more...


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