Category: Castle Provincial Park

Flatlanders go to the mountains

It was a trip that inspired awe for the natural landscape and an appreciation for the work of local ATVers

by John Meed |

Members of the Queen City Quadders from Regina, Saskatchewan, revel in the beauty of the Castle area.— photo courtesy John Meed

In August of 2016, the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, the local ATV club in the area, hosted several members of the Queen City Quadders (QCQ; Regina, Saskatchewan, area ATV club) for a week of riding in the Castle area. For the flatlanders, this was an amazing adventure, and for most, it was their first experience with mountain riding.

The scenery was breathtaking, the riding challenging and the experience memorable. QCQ members were impressed with the work and dedication of the Quad Squad and the time, money and effort their members had put in managing and grooming the trails. The Quad Squad were excellent hosts and guides.

Exploring the area offered several opportunities to view the splendour that is the Canadian Rocky Mountains, as well as the famous Frank Slide, the site of a plane mishap and an abandoned mining town, to mention a few. QCQ members took the opportunity to get off their ATVs and several went to nearby attractions, such as Waterton National Park.

Unfortunately, in recent developments, the Alberta Government has proposed a complete ban on ATVs in the Castle Provincial Park and Wildlands, which could mean that ATV riders will no longer legally be able to experience this amazing venue. The Quad Squad, along with Alberta Off Highway Vehicle Association (AOHVA) and other support groups and interested parties have mounted a campaign to convince the government of compromises that would allow ATV riders the opportunity to still ride on the already developed ATV trail system.

Clubs provide a unified voice to deal with situations that arise, such as proposed area closures.— photo courtesy John Meed

This is a classic example of how quickly situations or access rights can change for ATV users and where clubs and associations can be vital in providing a unified voice when dealing with governments and other decision-makers.

We hope the Alberta Government listens to the Quad Squad, AOHVA and those who want to continue to have this fantastic riding opportunity available to ATV riders in the future.

Logic for Castle Park decision, Alberta ORV Ban

posted on March 15, 2017 by Taber Times

As of March 20, 2017, the road to your home will be locked off.

Reason being, you have wrecked your road over the last 30 years of use. You have driven too fast, made potholes and tracks, and due to this, you are now locked out.

Or how about your local park, how would that be if it was locked up because somebody vandalized the equipment or has been riding on bike paths when muddy and wrecking the trail?

You might say this is crazy, I pay taxes, insurance and plates for my vehicle, this is just regular maintenance on the road and park. What is wrong here, this is insane.

Yes. It is insane, welcome to our world, the users of the Castle.

My family of children, grandchildren, have hunted, fished, hiked, ATV’d, rode horseback, random camped in forestry from the Oldman all the way to Waterton Park since 1982, and a lot of those trails are not much worse than they were then.

I laugh when I read all those comments from B.C. and wherever telling us how things are in the Castle. It’s my backyard friend, and I know better than you can even imagine of what’s going on.

We have been in business for 40 years, had a place in CNP for 13 years, paid taxes to government, CNP and all of a sudden me and my family are now weekend warriors, hell raisers, throw garbage, tear up the environment and don’t care about our area.

As I started this letter yes, we do need regular maintenance on our roads and also on our quad, hiking, horseback, mountain bike and whatever else trails we have.

We have had these trails for 30 plus years and that is what I am trying to get across, is the fact these trails need maintenance for all of us. Don’t let them pick us apart one user group at a time, or we are all doomed.

We have offered to pay the government user fees for random camping and ATVs for 20 years and also asked them to use part of the registration fees for trail maintenance, just to fall on deaf ears.

The government is on a mission in Alberta to turn all our areas into another Banff or Waterton, with paved roads so we can pay our park fee and the thousands of us can drive through daily and ooh and awe about how beautiful it is.

What they forgot is that these cars run on gasoline that pollutes our environment, but that’s OK. That’s better than the few quads or snowmobiles that are out there.

I just read a study that is there are good bridges, 90 plus per cent of ATVs use bridges.

The amount of supposed garbage been thrown around by quads and random campers is so blown out of perspective, it is unreal.

It’s always nice to hear from people who have never set foot in the forestry of how terrible it is when they are 400-600 kms away or not even from Canada.

Why the government has decided to hook up with Y2Y, a group of environmentalists with billions of dollars behind them from the States, I don’t know. They will walk over anybody or any group that get in their way.

Look at their track record; they have shut down third- and fourth-generation ranches, and whatever else they have to get their true environmental zone, where no one sets foot in.

The forestry is a place for all Alberta residents to enjoy the outdoors. To change to a park system only means another Banff or Jasper.

All I ask is for the people of Alberta to wake up before it’s too late and take a stand and say no. We, first of all, do not need all these parks and regulations.

I remember Ralph Klein said, “We don’t need any more parks in Alberta”, and he was 100 per cent right.

Please fight for all our areas across Alberta, whatever user group you are, before we lose it all.

Thank you,


Volunteers Building Bridges

This article shows the dedications and commitment of the Quad Squad of Alberta. Closing these ORV trails to ORV use is just not making any sense. I do agree that all ORV riders must be aware of their footprint and must learn to manage their riding areas responsibly.

One of the most important things we can do in the backcountry is to “Steer Clear of Water!” Using existing bridges wherever and whenever possible is one of the best ways to adopt more responsible practices when recreating in the backcountry. Luckily, local volunteers and organizations, such as the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, have invested time and money into providing these bridges for you!

On Saturday June 4, 2016, Outreach Assistants Rob, Thomas, and Ryan drove out to Blairmore for the 22nd Annual Ed Gregor Memorial Stewardship Day. They had been asked by Gary Clark, president of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, to come out and assist with the decking of two new OHV bridges that spanned Gold Creek near the abandoned town of Lille.

Volunteers from the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad and the finished OHV Bridge

Volunteers from the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad and the finished OHV Bridge

The Oldman Watershed Council places a priority on engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, and the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad have proven to be terrific partners over the years. Gary Clark is a member of our newly formed Recreation Advisory Council (RAC), which is a group made up of OHV users that will help inform the OWC on how to educate OHV users on safe, appropriate, and sustainable motorized recreation.

Quad Squad Volunteers Secure Bridge Decking

Quad Squad Volunteers Secure Bridge Decking

These two new bridges will allow OHV users in the Gold Creek area to keep their machines out of the creek while exploring the area. This is particularly important since Gold Creek is critical habitat for our native, and threatened, West Slope Cutthroat Trout. In addition to the bridges, Mike Taje from Alberta Environment and Parks installed signs at the Gold Creek Crossings noting that Gold Creek is protected habitat for species at risk.

Rob Taylor, OWC Outreach Assistant (also extraordinaire), helps Mike Taje, Alberta Environment and Parks, install Species at Risk Signage at OHV crossings on Gold Creek

Rob Taylor, OWC Outreach Assistant (also extraordinaire), helps Mike Taje, Alberta Environment and Parks, install Species at Risk Signage at OHV crossings on Gold Creek

So … remember to keep those wheels out of water in order to protect our headwaters!

If you would like to donate or volunteer your time on upcoming projects like this please visit the Oldman Watershed Council’s website today!

Province changes Castle Parks Draft Managment Plan after overwhelming feedback

Lethbridge News NOW
By Lara Fominoff @fomsy1 on Twitter

LETHBRIDGE – The push-back from the rallies, the protests and the letter- writing campaigns seems to have worked, at least to a certain extent.

In a stunning about-face, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says the province is changing the initial Castle Parks Draft Management Plan to include a number of new initiatives, along with a consultation process with the public and stakeholders that will begin next week.

The details of the public consultation process have not yet been announced, however Phillips says it will begin somewhere in southwestern Alberta March 8th.

“There will be a number (of sessions). Because we are looking at trail planning, in the Porcupine and Livingstone’s two areas that are going to be public land use zones, in addition to how they relate to the next five years within the Castle, it will be quite a long process. I anticipate it will take at least the summer if not longer. There will be a very frequent engagement with communtities and people who make their livelihood in the area. Landowners, ranchers, and the recreation groups.”

Many Off Highway Vehicle recreation groups have been calling for an extention to the 60- day feedback window on the draft managment plan, saying the comment period is far too short.
That window has now been extended 30 days, until April 19th.

A number of changes to the actual plan are also being implemented, including:

1) Allowing hunters access to trail networks to make sure they can safely get in and out of the area and recover game safely.
2) Working with grazing permit holders to allow them to be managed by rangelands operations staff. A meeting with ranchers in the Castle area will be held Friday, March 3rd.
3) Ensuring fish recovery strategies and protection of the Cutthroat and Bulltrout fish populations.
4) Allowing the elderly and those with disabilities access to the park with special infrastructure investments.
5) The maintenance of northern access routes into the parks from the Crowsnest Pass.
6) No changes to OHV trail access this year (2017). There will be a focus on closing illegal trails and creating proper signage in the parks. The province will work with OHV groups on planning and ensuring the existing infrastructure is EITHER moved OR maintained as the years go on.
7) Exploring the effects of summer versus winter OHV use with the Alberta Snowmobile Association and government scientists to ensure trail planning proceeds accordingly.
8) Increased enforcement and education in the parks.

Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad President Gary Clark is shocked and pleased with the announcement; something that he says his group has been asking for, since 2003.

“We were shocked at first when OHV use was disallowed, when we were told that OHV use would be allowed. But at the same time we also thought we put what we thought were very good submissions forward. This shows that we can properly control OHV use, which quite frankly, was running a little rampant …. and we can control it and have a good balance with the environment and at the same time keep tourism alive in southwestern Alberta.”

The only thing Clark says should be explored is a permit -type system; something many groups have also been advocating for decades. The important thing, he emphasizes, would be not to put the money from that kind of system into general revenue, “so that you can spend that money on maintaining the trails and building the bridges over the waters to protect the fish habitat, and move bad trails away from the waterways. It would be nice to have a steady source of funding.”

The province is investing $20 million dollars in the Castle Parks over 4 years. Phillips says in the coming weeks and months, more details on capital infrastructure and improvements will also be announced.

In defence of the Castle


© Lethbridge Herald photo by Tijana Martin Shannon Phillips,  Minster of Environment and Parks speaks to the media on Friday to help clear up some misconceptions in relation to the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park Draft Management Plan. @TMartinHerald

J.W. Schnarr
Lethbridge Herald
Misinformation surrounding Off Highway Vehicle use in the Castle parks area is undermining the process of “authentic dialogue” between user groups, says the provincial environment minister.
Shannon Phillips said the development of the Castle parks areas has been overshadowed by “disrespectful” language, and that there have been a number of false statements and misinformation spread regarding the issue.
“The fact of the matter is that the previous government recommended in the Porcupine Hills and in the Livingstone recreation area, that there be recreation management planning,” she said.
“The fact is also that the previous government didn’t get around to it.”
Phillips said her government continues to engage OHV users to ensure proper supports are put in place to make sure “high quality” OHV experiences are available to user groups. But, she says, the process is still ongoing.
“I want to be clear right now. The decisions haven’t been made. The plan that is before us is a draft.”
Phillips said the draft was created through consultation with technical working groups who examined the science around recovering the fishery, the wildlife habitat, and ensuring the water supply is in working order.
“That science informed our recommendation that there be a staged, phase-out of OHV use that is causing a great deal of erosion and a great deal of habitat loss in particular for our trout fishery,” she said.
“And a phasing in, in an appropriate way, with the right staging points, the right bridges, and trail networks in places where it is more compatible, and it has less of an impact. I don’t know how the previous governments made decisions, but in our world, a draft means exactly that.”
A number of groups have already engaged the government on the issue, according to Phillips, who said respectful dialogue and participation in the process is more effective than other means of letting the government know their wishes.
“All of them have made really interesting contributions,” she said. “They’ve really taken this on as a draft, and they are very likely to see their input reflected in the final management plan.”
Phillips said the original working groups that contributed to the draft were intended to reflect the variety of interests involved. Municipalities were sought out for representation as well as ranchers and landowners.
“They are the ones who often have to end up footing the bill for much of the activity that goes on in the landscape,” she said.
She said ranchers in particular have suffered from irresponsible OHV use because the activity interferes with their ability to make a living.
“All of those voices were recognized and included around the table,” she said. “As was small business.”
At a recent OHV rally in Lethbridge, Wildrose leader Brian Jean described the decision to phase out OHV use as something that would negatively impact people’s  jobs, their traditions, and their way of life.
Phillips described that kind of talk as inflammatory and unhelpful.
“I would also reject his assessment,” she said. “If he had been out talking to the ranchers I have talked to, and the municipalities I have talked to, he would have a different view of this. It is very clear he has not done that.”
Follow @JWSchnarrHerald on Twitter

Castle Provincial Park the Facts may Mislead You.

Justified science or activist agenda?


Barry Harper

Others have spoken of the Castle South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) land-use process and its shortcomings re: ignored input from traditional users such as hunters, fishers and OHV recreation. These are the users targeted with reduced access under SSRP proposed parks. I will focus on other aspects of the process followed by this government.

Minister Phillips has asserted that it is the “science” that drives the decision for the parks. That said, as an average Albertan I have the right and obligation to current and future generations to ensure that such science isn’t biased by the activist environmental NGOs I perceive are driving these park decisions. A critical factor being used to curtail OHV multi-use trails is the concept of linear footprint (LP). While science seems related mainly to wildlife mortality on highways, it is being applied to all linear features from highways to static fence lines and, yes, OHV trails.

Clearly, wildlife fatalities on highways is many orders of magnitude different than, say, a seldom-used, single-track motorcycle trail that may coincide with a cow trail. LP should entail on-the-ground research into intensity of use of LPs, duration of same and whether it is intermittent or continuous along with habitual game movement patterns and seasonality. That is not the case; all LPs are deemed of identical impact intensity and continuous per SSRP workshops. I view this as theorizing given, even the Grizzly Bear Recovery Program June 2016 draft, specifically identifies the need for research “to quantify the effect of OHV use” for their study let alone such possible impacts on 200-plus “endangered plants and animals” per Minister Phillips. Most outdoorsmen will tell you linear features, of themselves, do not curtail game movement and may be routinely used by wildlife.

Then there is the crucial “more than 200 species of endangered plants and animals” in the Castle claimed by Minister Phillips. Hey, I am not a biology expert, but I also know there is science and there is peer-reviewed believable science. This led me to ask who the authority in Canada is – it’s the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC Secretariat). A search of their database of all Alberta species at risk as at Feb. 3, 2017 lists 152 species of which 48 are “Not at Risk” and only 32 are “Endangered.” This puts the minister’s 200-plus “endangered” species at 6.25 times the peer-reviewed numbers for all of Alberta. This is an astonishing discrepancy! Given so much is driven these days by environmental activists inserting themselves into government decisions, I ask what affiliations do the minister’s science sources have with such activists and why doesn’t her science have the authentication of COSEWIC?

There are other questions as well, such as why aren’t Nature Conservancy of Canada vast land positions included in the scope of SSRP land use deliberations? They are substantially paid for by the public in the name of conservation. How is it cattle that defecate in our precious watersheds and stomp through riparian areas aren’t excluded from such parks?

As both a non-motorized and motorized recreationist who has random-camped in Alberta for over 40 years, and raised my family to responsibly enjoy these pursuits, I regard myself as being environmentally responsible and take exception to this rushed closure dictate. I have long promoted environmentally responsible designated OHV trails including proper management, enforcement, training, funding mechanics along with tourism potential thereof. I have worked for same at local, provincial and national levels over 15 years. We know how to build responsible trail systems; check with the Alberta Off-highway Vehicle Association for specifics. My experience has been that politicians are consistently deceptive and have managed to screw up even the best and most responsible of past proposals – that hasn’t changed.

Environmental activists such as Y2Y, CPAWS, AWA and adjuncts, seek to shut down the mountain corridor from some traditional uses. That not only includes motorized access, but also effectively impacts hunting and fishing access along with local community economies that depend on access. Their stated and highly promoted scheme is to have the entire mountain corridor made into a continuum of government designated parks, or equivalents, restricting only some traditional users and negatively impacting local communities all along the mountain corridor of Alberta, B.C. and Yukon. Check a map against Y2Y maps and see how many mountain corridor parks and near-equivalents we already have in Alberta. These activist NGOs are the same tax-subsidized, grant-funded and professionally managed NGOs whose politicalized agendas and lobbying attack and undermine our critical resource industries.

Time all Albertans get involved in this potential monumental impact on public access to public lands which, if Y2Y is followed, will amplify throughout all of Alberta.

Barry Harper is a Lethbridge resident who, in addition to being an active outdoorsman, has been involved in seeking responsible solutions to issues of OHV at the local, provincial and national level for more than 15 years.

Concerns grow for off-highway vehicle users in Castle Provincial Parks


 Hundreds Gathered for a town hall meeting in Bellevue Tuesday night to express concerns over the NDP’s future plans for the Castle Area, the most contentious issue: phasing out the use of off highway vehicles, Sarah Komadina reports.

A celebration for the Alberta government has turned into anguish for many off-highway vehicle enthusiasts.

Steps to strengthen protection in the Castle Wilderness area, about 250 kilometres from Calgary, include plans to phase out all OHV use in five years.

READ MORE: Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts fight proposed ban in new Alberta parks 

Story continues below

“We have seen a lot of disturbance… And (in) year one, we would be closing the out the illegal trails,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said.

More than 600 people, travelling from Medicine Hat, Edmonton and Calgary turned out for a Town Hall meeting in Bellevue Tuesday to voice their concerns.

“There’s people that respect the trails, maintain them, there’s thousands of dollars and volunteer hours that go into maintaining those trails,” said Troy Dezall, a board member of the Alberta Off-Highway Association. “We have to be careful because if they block off one area, they will keep making their way up Alberta.”

“It just makes me almost terrified to think that my kids or other (people’s) kids may never get those memories again,” OHV enthusiast Kolby McCole said.

READ MORE: Alberta to expand Castle area parks, phase out off-highway vehicles

The NDP says the Castle Wildland Provincial Park and the new Castle Provincial Park will protect over 100,000 hectares of land and 200 rare or at-risk species.

The next phase involves two months of consultation to develop a firm management plan.

READ MORE: Doubts raised about plan to protect Alberta wilderness area 

“That is exactly why we put out a draft, to hear from the public and get comments on what people would like to see done,” Phillips said. “I have also received hundreds of letters to our ministry office.”

Phillips wasn’t at the meeting, but the opposition MLA for Livingstone-Macleod was, and he wants more time for feedback.

“I asked for a 120 days consultation… and for the government to come out in that 120-day period to hold that town hall, to give the general public, the end users who have never had the chance to be consulted, an opportunity to voice their opinions to perhaps offer better solutions,” MLA Pat Stier said.

READ MORE: Alberta government moves to protect vast Castle wilderness 

Many from the meeting are waiting for that solution. Hundreds have signed a petition and sent letters to get their point across.

“I think this sends a clear message to the government that we are concerned,” Dezall said. “They’re not listening to us. I don’t know who they’re listening to, but it’s not us.”

Alberta NDP, Wildland Provincial Park sparks anger to Remove ORV Trails

Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley speaks at the January 20th press conference at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village Museum in Pincher Creek where the final boundaries for Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park were unveiled.
Pass Herald Reporter

“Lock her up.” The words, shouted out by a male heckler in the crowd, cut through the air during Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley’s speech for the unveiling of the final boundaries for Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village Museum in Pincher Creek on Jan. 20.

The provincial government’s announcement of the park’s boundaries and conditions were met with polarized responses of both backlash and support. Notley and Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips spoke to a full house of approximately 200 people at the Museum. Piikani Nation Chief Stanley Grier expressed the great significance the land holds to Piikani people, calling it a “historic day for this region.” Renee Richards out of Lethbridge spoke in support of the parks creation from the perspective of a frequent visitor to the area.

Castle Provincial Park and Wildland Park comprise approximately 1,000 square kilometers of protected land, intended to preserve the aquatic habitats and biodiversity in the area, including over 200 rare or at-risk species. The government will also continue working closely with Indigenous populations, for whom the Castle area holds meaningful cultural, historical and subsistent significance.

OHV phase-out

The parks welcome low-impact recreation activities like hiking, organized camping and regulated hunting, trapping and sport fishing. However, OHV enthusiasts feel their wishes and input have been blatantly disregarded and consider a phasing out unreasonable.

“Wild spaces have always been one of most precious treasures in Alberta. In our province, the landscape is part of who we are. We are campers, we are hikers, we are mountain bikers and we are much more,” said Notley, which prompted a yell of, “quadders, snowmobilers,” from a male in the crowd.

continued below …

The government has released a draft management plan for the parks in which they propose a two- to five-year phase-out of off-highway vehicle use on the trails, an outdoor sport that plays a vital role in the lifestyle and economy of the Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area.

Mayor of Crowsnest Pass Blair Painter said that the impact of OHV prohibition in Castle Park will be “huge” for the community, adding that “it drives our economy.”

Wildrose MLA for the Constituency of Livingstone Macleod Pat Stier echoes the sentiment.

“There will be some impacts, I believe, to businesses in the Crowsnest,” he says. “There will be impacts in terms of traffic, there will be concerns about a change of revenues to tourism industries down there. Even the off-highway vehicle distributors, I imagine, would be affected.”

Motorized sport enthusiasts and the towns that depend on OHV tourism feel shunned by the decision and express a blunt lack of consultation on the government’s part.

Although Phillips indicated that alternative infrastructure will be established in the area to accommodate OHV enthusiasts where they can take part in the sport “in places where it is environmentally responsible to have that activity,” president of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad Gary Clark sees a bleak future for motorized vehicle use in the area, considering that the Porcupine and Livingstone Range are also calling for the reduction of trails in the area.

“Why build more trails when you have a good, solid trail system now that can be further developed? That’s a much lower cost than building new trails,” he adds.

Clark says that the government is disregarding the important role that OHV use plays in the community.

continued below …

“They don’t seem to realize the economic benefits that OHV use brings into this community,” he says. “I just don’t understand where their heads are because they seem to be putting the cart before the horse.”

Since the group’s creation 20 years ago, the Quad Squad has been an instrumental player in promoting responsible OHV use, and creating and maintaining trails in the Castle area with the intent of ensuring the conversation and preservation of the forest, waterways and backcountry. The organization oversees over 1,300 km of trails in Southwest Alberta and has built over 30 bridges that protect fish habitats in the park area.

Clark concedes that as with anything, there are riders that stray off trails and don’t follow proper OHV regulations, but he encourages better enforcement and signage rather than punishing the entire OHV community for the mistakes of a few.

Insufficient consultation

The draft management plan has been designed following a consultation period that was launched after the initial announcement on Sep. 4, 2015. Minister Phillips stated that the government sought input from key stakeholders to inform the draft management plan, including environmental advocates, hunting and fishing advocates, the Alberta Off Highway Vehicles Association, as well as the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad.

However, the Alberta Fish and Game Association and the Quad Squad have a very different impression of the government’s collaborative intent.

Clark indicates that while the government did make steps to seek his recommendations and opinion, his input was falling on deaf ears.
“I believe that they have tried to do a public consultation process, but I also feel that they haven’t listened to what we’ve been saying,” he says.
According to Clark, he had many concerns with the overall process that the decision was made.

continued below …

“I was put on the Management Board, which was supposed to be making recommendations to the government, and as far as I’m aware, I haven’t voted on any recommendations,” he says. “So I’m not sure why this board was even convened because the government is obviously not listening to what we are saying. That is my main disappointment with the NDP government.”

Brian Dingreville, 2nd vice president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, expressed similar concerns, stating that the government released the draft management plan while discussions were still ongoing.

“Over the last several months, meetings took place with the provincial government with regards to a draft that we were supposed to come up with and present to the provincial government, which would then be brought forward to the public and we would be given opportunities to discuss it,” he said. “The meetings have not concluded, firstly, which is a total slap in the face because it tells me that they have no regard or any respect for any of the people that were involved in the working group.”
While hunting, fishing and trapping are still allowed under the draft regulations, Dingreville indicated that he has lost confidence in the government given that the Quad Squad was initially told that there would be OHV trails available for use.

“So does that mean that in a couple of years, we’re going to get booted out?” he says. “I have lost total respect for anything that they have said the past. I have no respect whatsoever for the NDP government at all. None.”

Pat Stier also expressed concern with the government’s lack of transparency and consultation with stakeholders.

continued below …

“I think there could have been a broader amount of consultation held throughout the province on such radical changes,” says Stier. “What is their long-range goal and plan? No one seems to know that. They just seem to be doing herky-jerky moves once in a while. I understand the worries and concerns of the business owners and the impacts to the Pass. I only hope that we can figure out a way to move forward and that it will help our economy and not negatively impact it.”

While the press conference was teeming with environmental advocates, children, the Piikani Nation and supporters of the parks creation, there was a general sense of being ignored on the side of OHV groups and other users of the Castle area. The Pass Herald received a call from the Notley office one hour prior. The Alberta Fish and Game Association was informed of the press conference the evening before it would take place, and The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass was informed only 18 hours prior.

“In my opinion, there was really no consultation between our two municipalities that this was going to take place or that we were fairly engaged with any portion of this consultation,” says Mayor of Crowsnest Pass Blair Painter.

“Ninety percent of the people involved in the working group are working people, so for us to make a decision to get to that would be very difficult. They had no regard for us as a working group whatsoever,” said Dingreville.

On the other hand, Piikani First Nation had time to prepare a dance for the press conference, and conservation activists such as Stephen Legault from Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative had time to make it to Pincher Creek from his place of residence in Canmore.
Draft planning

In addition to land use restrictions, a fee structure will also be discussed at the consultation phase of the project.

“The fee structure will most likely be similar to what we have in other parks,” says Rick Blackwood, Assistant Deputy Minister with Alberta Environment and Parks. “We try to have consistency across the parks system, but during the consultation phase those are all the types of things that we’re still trying to sort out.”

A 60-day online public consultation period has launched where the public can provide input on the parks’ features. While several sections included a box to type in an original response, the majority of questions require multiple-choice answers on a “strongly agree” to a “strongly disagree” scale. Concerning the use of OHVs in the park, it’s not a question of “if”; it’s a question of “is a transition period necessary?”

The public can participate in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park Draft Management Plan Survey here:

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