Posted on Mar 1, 2017

Protection of Castle Area

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.

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.

The next phase for the 103,000-hectare park is the development of a management plan for the ecologically and culturally significant area. 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.

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.

The Castle area also 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.

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.

A public consultation has been launched to help flesh out the new parks’ features and opportunities. A draft plan has been developed in conjunction with key stakeholders.

I encourage everyone to participate by visiting www.talkaep.alberta.ca/CastleManagementPlanto view the draft of the management plan, complete the survey and be sure to send your feedback toABParks.PlanComments@gov.ab.ca. The deadline for feedback is March 20.

Sincerely,

Cam Westhead, MLA for Banff-Cochrane