Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Conservation group questions repair of Castle OHV trails

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition press release

The Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) is asking why the Government of Alberta continued to spend money repairing and entrenching off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in what is to become the Castle Provincial Park when OHVs aren’t allowed in provincial parks.

On September 4, 2015, Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips announced the government’s intention to establish the Castle Provincial Park southwest of Pincher Creek, Alberta. According to the government’s website, “Operating OHVs is not permitted in provincial parks.” yet the government continued to repair and upgrade OHV trails throughout the fall of 2015 in what will become the new Castle Provincial Park.

“While I understand that the money came from a federal disaster relief fund, it’s still taxpayer’s money—our money—that was spent repairing and upgrading trails in what is to become a provincial park, for vehicles that are not allowed in provincial parks”, said an exasperated James Tweedie, president of the CCWC.

“The Castle is considered core grizzly bear habitat under the Alberta grizzly bear recovery plan, and much of the Castle is under a Critical Habitat Order for westslope cutthroat trout. The number of roads, trails, and cutlines in the Castle is far beyond what either species can tolerate, and a large number of these features will now have to be removed at even greater expense and environmental damage”, Peter Lee, CCWC Board Member, explained. “Instead of entrenching trails that will now have to be removed, the money should have been spent on erosion control, and on removing and rehabilitating these damaging trails.”

“The left hand didn’t seem to know what the right hand was doing”, added Peter Sherrington, CCWC vice-president. “We need to be removing OHV trails from the Castle Provincial Park, not adding to the problem.”

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