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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Castle stewardship advocates meet in Lethbridge

Alberta Wilderness Association - On Saturday morning in Lethbridge, a group of scientists, local residents, conservationists, authors and recreationists told the story of 50 years of stewardship for the Castle Wilderness. The people of Alberta support the Castle Parks.

Sid Marty, writer and former National Parks Warden:
“The process that led to the Castle Parks getting protected all began with the pressure that Albertans put on the previous government, when the public cried out over the widespread destruction on our Eastern Slopes. Trying to create multi-use trails defies the laws of physics – it’s impossible to have a backpacker and an ATV user try to occupy the same trail. I’m looking forward to actually going for a hike in the Castle wildlands for the first time in two decades.”

David Sheppard, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition:
“Motorized recreation has no place in our parks and conservation areas, and Albertans love the outdoors. A Praxis survey showed that eighty-eight percent of Albertans’ said they want more wilderness protected, and that 86 percent prioritize non-motorized recreation, with many saying that OHV use interferes with their ability to enjoy wildlife and the quiet of the outdoors. This is supported by a Lethbridge public opinion survey, where an overwhelming majority of residents (94%) supported protecting the Castle watershed.”

Andrea Hlady, local resident, Beaver Mines:
“I support the parks because I believe they will become a place for everyone to enjoy. My priority is the safety of my children and I currently feel threatened when I go to the Castle, because it’s loud, uncontrolled and unpredictable.”

Connie Simmons, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative:
“The Castle provides clean drinking water for Lethbridge. Creating the Castle Parks will protect that water, and other wildland values for generations to come. This is what local residents have been asking for. We all want to see our water and wildlife protected from unnecessary damage.”

Dave Hockey, Great Divide Trail Association:
“We support the Government of Alberta’s decision to create both the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park, including the difficult decision to phase out OHVs. We believe the science based decision is the right one to protect this special area for the majority of Albertans. We also believe it is incumbent upon the Government to provide a designated trail system and the appropriate infrastructure for OHVs in areas that can support this type of use.”

Dave Mayhood, Aquatic Ecologist:
“Alberta’s Eastern Slopes are covered by a network of roads, trails, seismic lines, pipelines, transmission lines and other linear disturbances to a density that is among the highest in western North America. Most of this network is used by off-highway recreational vehicles. These linear features have been shown to be highly damaging ecologically, causing serious problems for vegetation, water quality, wildlife, and fish. We need to drastically reduce this network to protect watershed values and native species. It would be unconscionable to permit OHVs and their trails in the Castle parks, which hold some 200 rare and at-risk species, and are the most valuable as-yet unprotected lands we have in the province.”

Kevin Van Tighem, Alberta Biologist and Author of Heart Waters: Sources of the Bow River:
“Nothing is as important to prairie Canada as its water supply. The Castle yields almost a third of the water that Lethbridge and its surrounding irrigation country rely on. And science shows that soil compaction, vegetation loss and erosion caused by off-road vehicles is already reducing our water security.”

Van Tighem served on the government’s advisory committee that included both scientists and representatives of a wide range of land users in the Castle. “The government did an exceptional job of listening carefully to the full range of Albertans with a stake in the Castle, including off-roaders. I’m impressed that they chose to make tough decisions supported by the best science available, like phasing out motorized activity. All the science evidence we could find showed that OHV use simply isn’t compatible with nature, streams, water security or other park users and that better trail engineering isn’t a solution.”

Joanna Skrajny, Alberta Wilderness Association:
“In addition to the many logical, material reasons to fully protect the Castle there also are powerful spiritual reasons. The Castle is a sacred place. First Nations have used the Castle Wilderness for at least 10,000 years while use by the direct ancestors of the present Piikani and Kutenai Nations can be traced back at least 2,000 years. I would argue that the spiritual character of these lands counted when they were included into the National Parks system over 100 years ago. I would like to think this character made the protection of these lands possible today. Knowing that fully protecting the Castle will create a quiet refuge for us to enjoy, will help to restore species at risk, will secure safe water for the residents of southern Alberta, and will provide a magnificent natural legacy for our children sustains the conclusion that protecting wilderness areas is vital.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/2/17

    Mr. Marty. It has worked fine with backpackers and OHV users for 25 years to use the same trails. Maybe you should have been out the last 20 years helping us build bridges etc to mitigate some damage. Over 80000 man hours from OHV volunteers to protect and prevent damage to the environment, that happens also form Hikers bikers and Horses. Environmentalist haven't spent 1 hour out helping, They complain but wont lift a finger. Haven't heard much from Mr. Sheppard in a long time. Not sure if it is the same Dave Sheppard who was caught lying stating there was only 6 grizzly bears from Banff to Waterton When the DNA study showed there were over a hundred. (Credibility lost) still up to the old tricks of misrepresenting the truth. The facts that #s that he states are from a poll of less then 600 people, Not all Albertans. The latest poll of 1109 people 74% said they DON'T agree with the ending of OHV use in the Castle. Miss Hlady OHV's are no more unpredictable or uncontrollable then any car, horse or bicycle. Mr. Mayhood. 200 is a misrepresentation. The # is approximately 50 according to the research. The research that I will assume he is quoting does say that if there is not enough study to put it as rare and at risk as default. Know one will change opinions that these people have, but I think some facts and misrepresentations were corrected. For the readers of this story. "If you have to misrepresent the truth to make your point, Your point has no Validity."

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