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Castle protection edges Alberta closer to international conservation milestone

Setting the boundaries of the expanded Castle Wildland Provincial Park and the new Castle Provincial Park in southwestern Alberta bring one of the most biologically diverse areas in the province under provincial protection.

January 20, 2017

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) are praising the formal designation of the Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks by Premier Notley, Minister Phillips and Minister Miranda today.

“It’s been a long time since Alberta made a concerted effort to protect nature,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director with the Southern Alberta Chapter of CPAWS. “We hope that today’s announcement by the Premier signals a renewed focus on parks and protected areas across the province.”

The Castle Parks were announced on Sept. 4, 2015 and passed through order-in-council this week. The Castle, located in southwestern Alberta, is at the heart of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, and a flagship landscape in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

“There are many places across Alberta long overdue for conservation,” says Stephen Legault, program director for the Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories for Y2Y. “Much-loved regions such as Kananaskis Country, where Calgary’s water comes from, and the Bighorn area, where Edmonton gets its water, are in need of more protection.” 

Legault notes that other areas in the Oldman, Bow and North Saskatchewan watersheds are also at risk.

Both groups applaud the decision to phase out off highway vehicle (OHV) use from the Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks and expand protection for the region’s headwaters, saying it sets a new direction for protected areas in Alberta.

“The decision to phase out OHV use from the Castle parks reinforces that protected areas are places for nature conservation and quiet recreation,” says Morrison, “Alberta has made it clear that it takes seriously the effort to protect places for grizzly bears, westslope cutthroat trout and the clean clear water that flows out of the Castle.”

“For the first time in decades we can anticipate a time when the Castle will be free of both logging and motorized recreation. We’ll continue to encourage the government to speed up the phase out of OHV’s in the Castle,” says Legault. “If you compare where we are with just 18 months ago this signals significant momentum towards conservation.”

“Alberta has committed to achieving the international milestone of protecting 17 per cent of its landscapes by 2020,” says Morrison.

“There’s still important work to be done. We hope to work with Albertans and the government to achieve this important goal for protecting nature.”
“Albertans support the creation of new parks to protect our headwaters and to create jobs and stimulate new business opportunities,” says Legault.

“We’re glad that Premier Notley is showing real leadership and that her government takes the protection of nature seriously.”


For further comment:

  • Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director - Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories 403-688-2964 |
  • Katie Morrison, Conservation Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter 403-463-6337 |
  • For Media: High resolution photos of the Castle region are available. Contact Kelly Zenkewich, Y2Y Communications Co-ordinator, or 403-609-2666 ext. 112 for access.