Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has announced the final boundaries and new protection measures for the Castle Wildlands and Provincial Park in southwest Alberta. The Wildlands Park will encompass nearly 80,000 hectares, while the adjacent Provincial Park will cover 25,500 hectares. These areas border Waterton Lakes National Park to the south.
In the management plan, Premier Notley made the crucial decision to prohibit Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) in much of the area later this spring and phase out their use in the remainder within 2-3 years.
WCS Canada celebrates this decision, which was informed by Dr. John Weaver’s scientific assessment of the Castle area in 2013, with a focus on native trout, grizzly bears, wolverine, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Indeed, Minister Shannon Phillips made explicit mention of the scientific research that gave strength to the challenging decisions around protection of this area. The final boundaries closely matched the boundaries that he recommended for the Wildlands and Provincial Park. Dr. Weaver explains that “the Castle area is one of the most important pieces of the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region. Its biodiversity of plants and animals is remarkable. The strategy of ‘protect and connect’ the headwaters of major rivers will help maintain resiliency during climate change.”
Albertan citizens and various commissions have called for protection of the Castle for the past 40 years, citing its diverse features and beauty.