Castle Management Plan reflects decades of collaboration on iconic Alberta landscape

MEDIA RELEASE | May 18, 2018

Castle Management Plan reflects decades of collaboration on iconic Alberta landscape

The release of the Castle Parks Management Plan is the culmination of decades of hard work by the people of Alberta to protect an iconic corner of Alberta. Today, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Southern Alberta are among those who celebrate the foresight and commitment of the government of Alberta to create the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Provincial Wildland Park.  

“After 30 years of hard work we’re grateful to have a plan that will restore the balance of nature protection, recreation and economic diversification,” says Gord Petersen of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition. “So many have been part of this effort — people like the late Charlie Russell, who loved wilderness and fought the good fight for the Castle — would be pleased.” 

As a critically important landscape in the famous Crown of the Continent region, the Castle Parks are rich in biodiversity and headwater streams that provide important source-water for communities and agriculture across southern Alberta. The focus of the plan is to manage the Castle Parks as a world-class protected area with high conservation standards that respects Indigenous rights while providing exceptional recreational experiences for visitors.

The plan creates a clear path for recreation use in the Castle Parks for all users. Opportunities include rustic group and serviced site camping, hiking, biking, equestrian use, skiing and snowshoeing, as well as access to low impact backcountry camping and hiking. 

“The Castle Management Plan provides great opportunities to enjoy this beautiful and diverse landscape,” says Dave Hockey of the Great Divide Trail Association. “We are pleased with the outcomes in the plan. It has provided clarity, assurance and opportunity for recreation users who love the quiet contemplation of wild nature, and a reduced footprint on this ecologically important area of Alberta.”

“Protection of core habitat for species at risk is a critical need,” says Andy Hurly, ecologist and Professor Emeritus, University of Lethbridge. “The Castle Parks provide an essential protected landscape and wildlife corridor link in the northeast corner of the Crown of the Continent. This is a region of incredible ecological value but one faced with real concerns for the persistence of key species at risk. Restoration of essential habitat is a vital outcome of the plan.”

“The Castle is a vital piece of the puzzle in the Yellowstone to Yukon vision,” says Dr. Connie Simmons, local resident and coordinator of planning with Y2Y.  “This is about protecting and connecting people and nature, Simmons says. I am looking forward to seeing how greatly-needed economic diversification for local communities will be supported by the Castle Parks.”

“As a member of the multi-stakeholder group who provided input to the creation of the Castle Management Plan, I am pleased with the direction of the plan to work towards a world-class protected place,” says Katie Morrison, conservation director with CPAWS-Southern Alberta. “We can now move forward to safeguard key natural values, restore critical habitats, and provide a legacy for local communities and all Albertans.”

View the announcement and Castle Management Plan here.