Castle parks given historic new boundaries

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    Victoria Peak as seen from Butcher Lake within the Castle area.

    The boundaries of the expanded Castle Wildland Provincial Park and the new Castle Provincial Park have been set, bringing one of the most biologically diverse areas in Alberta under provincial protection.

    “Our government committed to Albertans to strengthen protection of the Castle area, part of the ‘Crown of the Continent.’ There is still a lot of work ahead, but the establishment of these new parks sets in motion our ability to implement the values of protection, conservation, recreation and tourism opportunities in this important region.”

    – Rachel Notley, Premier   

    The next phase for the 103,000-hectare parks is the development of a management plan for the ecologically and culturally significant area. A 60-day public consultation will help flesh out the new parks’ features and opportunities. A draft plan has been developed in conjunction with key stakeholders. Albertans are encouraged to participate and provide feedback.

    “One of our government’s key priorities is supporting a vibrant tourism and recreation economy. We will continue to work with communities, businesses, First Nations and all Albertans to protect and enrich this natural wonder.”

    – Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks 

    The Castle area has cultural and historical significance for Indigenous people. First Nations will play an ongoing and critical role in the management of the parks, including opportunities for co-operative management.

    “Our people have existed, protected and preserved these lands for our use. Indeed the Siksikatsiitapii Creation Story originated in this area. We still use these lands for our way of life and have co-existed with the various beings and later newcomers to our lands.”

    – Stanley Charles Grier, Chief, Piikani First Nation

    Part of the government’s move to further improve protection of the Castle parks area and its unique biological diversity is to transition off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation use out of the new Castle boundary.

    Existing OHV trails within the Castle parks will be assessed for ecological risks to the area, an important source to the Oldman River Basin headwaters. Non-designated trails will be rehabilitated.

    Additional work in the region includes the development of a regional tourism strategy and the completion of priority planning for Porcupine Hills and Livingstone Range vacant public lands adjacent to the Castle parks’ boundaries.

    The Castle area is home to over 200 rare or at-risk species located on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta, near British Columbia and Montana.

    “A new protected area in the Castle is a real gift to Albertans. The Castle is a major source of water for southern Alberta, and is home for grizzly bears, bull trout and rare plants. It’s a great place to connect with nature through quiet recreation. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society congratulates and thanks the government for creating this amazing new park.”

    – Katie Morrison, Conservation Director, Southern Alberta Chapter, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

    “The Castle is a key part of the Yellowstone to Yukon region. It’s one of the linchpins in the whole Y2Y system. Today’s announcement will start Alberta towards a new mandate for protecting places that help protect nature, diversify our economy and create jobs that support our province and our environment.”

    – Stephen Legault, Program Director, (Crown, Alberta, NWT) Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

    “Camping, hiking, mountain biking, snow sports – these activities shape and enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of Albertans and numerous visitors to the province. They are also mainstays of MEC’s business. We congratulate the Government of Alberta on providing provincial park status to the Castle area. The designation will benefit retailers like MEC and many other businesses that rely on outdoor recreation.”

    – David Labistour, CEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op

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