Premier Rachel Notley and Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, unveiled the draft plan for the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park today in Pincher Creek.
The draft plan attempts to strike a balance between the many types of use in the area and the need to protect source water for everyone downstream, as well as the protection of sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife.
The OWC has provided extensive feedback to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) regarding management of the Eastern Slopes through participation on committees, attending stakeholder workshops and submitting written information. OWC's input to AEP is based on discussions with our Headwaters Action Team and Recreation Advisory Committee, both of which provide important points of view from all stakeholders. In addition, our community driven Headwaters Action Plan was created with all sectors at the table and drives our input to the Government of Alberta.
Impacts on Land Use Activities (copied from https://talkaep.alberta.ca/CastleManagementPlan/faqs#question1391):
The following activities and land uses, which were previously allowed on public lands, will be modified and/or eliminated:
Grazing management practices will be reviewed to align them with the conservation values identified in the plan. This includes the protection of headwaters and critical habitat and the provision of high quality recreational experiences.
To facilitate these aims, priorities will be on the elimination and / or minimization of cattle impact in the alpine areas, and the protection of critical fish habitat and riparian areas. Additionally, grazing will continue in order to create a desired mosaic of forest and grassland ecosystems in the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park, thus meeting the needs of wildlife as well as supporting the overall health of the native grasslands.
Hunting seasons and allocations within the Wildland Provincial Park will continue to follow the existing Alberta Government regulatory processes. Motorized access for retrieval of animals will be subject to the conditions identified in the park management plan.
Hunting in the Provincial Park will be implemented in a two-phased approach that will allow for recreational hunting, while ensuring that hunting is primarily for the purpose of managing wildlife populations.
Additional regulatory restrictions, such as firearm discharge permits, will be used in the short-term to manage hunting within Castle Provincial Park.
Camping opportunities will be aligned with the Alberta Parks’ legislation and regulations. As a result, motorized random camping will not be permitted. Camping will instead be limited to designated rustic group camps.
Existing formalized automobile accessible campgrounds will continue to be supported, and may be upgraded, to include additional services such as power and water.
Off Highway Vehicle Recreation
Recreational off-highway vehicle use is not supportable in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park due to the extremely high biodiversity values, the necessity to protect the headwaters of the Oldman watershed, critical fish habitat for species at risk, and the high conservation values.
The transition strategy will allow short-term use on designated trails north of highway 774 (3 to 5 years), the cessation (starting May 1st of this year) of recreation OHV use south of highway 774, and the reclamation of previously unauthorized random trails throughout the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park. Highway 774 runs south from Beaver Mines to Castle Ski Resort.
Give Your Feedback
Albertans have 60 days to provide input on the draft plan and OWC encourages all stakeholders to provide feedback. We will continue to provide updates for you. In the meantime, you can participate by completing the on-line survey, emailing or mailing in your comments and/or attending the public open houses planned for mid February. The draft plan, FAQs and all related information is found here: https://talkaep.alberta.ca/CastleManagementPlan?gclid=CKfvhPDv0dECFQ5EfgodnPQNFA