In September 2015 the Alberta Government announced plans to establish a new provincial park called Castle Provincial Park and an expansion of the Castle Wildland Provincial Park.
In January 2017 following a public consultation period the Alberta Government officially announced the designation of these parks and released a draft management plan for them.
“The Castle Provincial Park will be approximately 25,500 hectares in size, and includes the previous Lynx Creek Provincial Recreation Area (PRA), Castle Falls PRA, Castle River Bridge PRA, Syncline PRA and Beaver Mines PRA.
The Castle Wildland Provincial Park will be approximately 80,000 hectares in size, and includes the most critical and sensitive areas for headwaters and wildlife, including major wildlife movement corridors for wide-ranging species such as grizzly bear, and habitat for threatened species such as westslope cutthroat trout.” – from the AEP website.
Following the official announcement from the Alberta Government a draft management plan for both the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park has been developed, and there are opportunities for public input into the draft plan.
Public response to the draft management plan leaves no doubt that the Castle area is a place that many Albertans are passionate about. In recent weeks there have been many different perspectives on this area expressed in the news, along with varying opinions on key changes to the area represented in the draft management plan.
“The Castle area is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Alberta and home to a range of rare and at-risk species, including wolverine, grizzly bear and westslope cutthroat trout. The area has a history of multiple uses including commercial forestry, grazing, oil and gas development, as well as tourism and recreational uses.” – from the AEP website.
Castle Management Plan Public Information Sessions
March 10th – Pincher Creek
4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Pincher Creek Community Centre – 287 Canyon Drive
March 11th – MD of Ranchlands
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Chain Lakes Provincial Park – MD Office
Sessions will examine wider conservation and land-use issues in the southern Eastern Slopes, Castle parks and surrounding areas. Discussions will include linear disturbances, off-highway vehicle use and trail planning.
With so many interests in the Castle area it is especially important that everyone take a few minutes to complete the survey regarding the Castle Parks draft management plan.
Due to overwhelming response to the draft management plan the Alberta Government has extended the deadline for completing the survey until APRIL 19TH, 2017 (previously was March 20th, 2017). They have also announced that changes to the current draft management plan are being made and a NEW draft management plan will be released on MARCH 10TH. Additionally a series of public consultations will be held to discuss the NEW draft plan.
***Edited March 22, 2017 to add***** The revised draft plan has now been released. Even those who have previously completed the survey are encouraged to do it again as there are now additional questions. You can review the revised draft plan and complete the survey here.