Commercial forestry in the Castle Special Management Area has been stopped and the process to designate the entire area under Parks’ legislation is underway.
“Protecting the Castle is critically important for the biodiversity and water quality of this entire region. Under Parks’ legislation, and with the input of all Albertans, we will permanently protect this special place for future generations to enjoy as we transition the land to support good local jobs in tourism and recreation.”
~ Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
Government is protecting the area with two new designations within the Castle: an expanded Wildland Provincial Park and a new Provincial Park.
Covering nearly 104,000 hectares, the Castle area is an ecologically-diverse expanse of mountains, foothills, forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes in southwestern Alberta. It is prized for its headwaters, biodiversity and functions as a key wildlife corridor. The Castle is culturally significant to First Nations, and forms part of the Crown of the Continent – the mountainous region where Alberta, British Columbia and Montana meet.
“This will mean more visitor signatures in our guestbook from all over Canada, the U.S. and beyond, who come to play in our backyard. As parents of three young kids, we know how special and pristine this area is, and the importance of preserving it for our kids to enjoy with theirs one day.”
~ Jessica Atkinson, Owner, Stone’s Throw Café, Blairmore
“We applaud the government for protecting this significant piece of the southern Alberta Rocky Mountain landscape. As a business owner in a protected area, we know the benefits and jobs they create. These are jobs and opportunities that are compatible with this landscape and preserve the critical watersheds that they hold.”
~ Beth Russell-Towe, Owner, Bear Mountain Motel
Designating the Castle under the Provincial Parks Act will allow government to focus on stewardship, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, and boosting the local economy by promoting the area as an outdoor destination for Albertans and out-of-province visitors.
Consultation with Albertans on the future of the Castle Special Management Area has begun and will remain open until October 4th. For more information and to participate, please visit albertaparks.ca/consult.
Aboriginal consultation will also begin immediately. The province is fully committed to upholding First Nation Treaty Rights across Alberta.
In addition to discontinuing commercial forestry within the Castle area, there will be a prohibition on surface rights access for any new petroleum and natural gas leases. Existing petroleum and natural gas leases will be honoured. No new tenure will be sold for extracting metallic, mineral, coal or surface resources. Existing leases for metallic, mineral and coal commodities will be cancelled, consistent with direction under the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Current livestock grazing permits will be respected.