Thursday, August 16, 2012
Alberta Wilderness Association claims Castle Logging decision ignored Fish and Wildlife and Alberta public
The Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) issued a press release earlier this week with findings from a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) application AWA made regarding logging in the Castle area. According to AWA, the decision to allow clearcut logging in the Castle Special Place was "made by Forestry staff in a seeming vacuum". AWA charges that Fish and Wildlife staff were given minimal opportunity for input, and that their input was ignored.
“This doesn’t sound like the behaviour of a government that listens to Albertans. These documents point to an Alberta Forest Service that feels it can make its own decisions without listening to anybody else,” says AWA conservation specialist Nigel Douglas. “The decision has been made to clearcut log and nothing is going to stop that: never mind the impacts on water quality or grizzly habitat or sensitive fish habitat, and never mind the huge public opposition and even internal government concern.”
“It is shocking that the enormous outpouring of public opposition to the logging plans barely created a ripple in the Forest Division’s plans,” said Gord Petersen of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition . “The documents show no record of the Castle as a Special Place, nor any mention of massive public opposition to the logging.”
“Local residents and conservation organizations have said for many years that the values of the Castle Special Place reach beyond simple timber value,” said Sarah Elmeligi of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “In 1998, the Castle was protected to provide healthy headwaters and clean drinking water, wildlife habitat and low impact recreation opportunities. Now in 2012 Albertans are showing their concern that these values have not been adequately provided for. That’s why Alberta Fish and Wildlife had concerns about logging this protected area; concerns that were ignored by the Forestry Division of SRD.”
Environmental groups will be meeting with Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development on August 23 to discuss the Castle.
The complete FOIP document can be seen at the AWA website here: http://albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlands/areas-of-concern/castle/archive-1/2012-07-02-castle-logging-foip-information