Success in Alberta’s Castle Watershed!
After more than 40 years of pressure from Y2Y and other groups, the Alberta government last month announced the expansion of a wildland park and the creation of a provincial park in the Castle watershed.
Located just north of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the protected areas will conserve more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of prime wildlife habitat in one of the most biologically rich landscapes in the country.
Along with providing critical habitat for grizzly bears, wolverine and west-slope cutthroat trout, the region is part of the Alberta Headwaters—a vital source of clean water for millions of people living downstream.
The Castle is a key piece in the puzzle that would keep wide-ranging wildlife moving north and south throughout the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
“The most significant aspect of protecting the Castle is that these new parks are not isolated," says Y2Y Strategic Advisor Harvey Locke. "They form part of a larger landscape in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.”
The landmark decision to protect the Castle is a major success for the conservation community, and follows decades of hard work from everyone who wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls or donated to Y2Y in support of our work in the region. Thank you!
Protecting the Flathead River Valley
Beyond giving us all a chance to celebrate, the decision to protect the Castle further demonstrates the need for British Columbia (B.C.) to protect its own portion of this region in the Flathead River Valley.
Located just south of the Castle, but across the provincial border in southeast B.C., the Flathead has been called the “missing piece” of Waterton-Glacier, and boasts a wide diversity of species, including grizzly bears and wolverines.
For more than a decade, Y2Y, along with Wildsight, Sierra Club BC and CPAWS BC—all part of the Flathead Wild team—have been working to protect the Flathead permanently, a third of the area as a National Park and the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat as a Wildlife Management Area.
“Nature knows no borders,” says Locke. “It’s time to bring conservation in that part of B.C. in line with conservation in Alberta and Montana.”
Viewed from this continental perspective, Alberta’s historic decision may have positive implications far beyond the province.
Once protected areas like the Castle become hard lines on a map, they reveal just how important adjoining regions can be in terms of maintaining transboundary connectivity. And if that ramps up the pressure to protect these regions, all the better.