News Release: Abuse of Sensitive Castle Landscapes Not Defensible
May 18, 2016
Illegal use during the recent province-wide OHV ban is a symptom of ongoing abuse within the area that will become the Castle parks. A recent stewardship report by the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) reveals an incident requiring RCMP intervention when individuals illegally entered an area closed to Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use according to the Castle Access Management Plan. This was particularly egregious given the province-wide OHV ban at the time. The CCWC and Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) are requesting support from both the OHV community and the Government of Alberta to permanently ban OHVs in the newly designated Castle Parks.
“This incident is just one more example of the continuing disregard by motorized recreationists not only of the existing Castle Access Management Plan but also of the recent explicit province-wide closure of all Public Lands to these vehicles,” says James Tweedie, CCWC President. “A ban on OHV use in the Castle would not only protect the area, but would also make enforcement easier and cheaper.”
“We are asking for the OHV ban to be extended permanently in order to protect the Castle Parks from further OHV damage. We are requesting this closure be put in place before the upcoming long weekend, which traditionally sees the most OHV vandalism of any period of the year,” adds James Tweedie. “The risk to the provincially-protected Castle Parks from continued OHV vandalism is not just from fires, but from further degradation and destruction of species at risk habitat including significant grizzly bear and native trout habitat.”
“The Castle contains vital habitat for many wild species and its headwaters provide water that many Albertans depend on,” says Joanna Skrajny, AWA Conservation Specialist.”Sensitive headwaters landscapes are simply not capable of supporting motorized recreation and the enforcement to manage lawless recreationists is more than we can afford. OHVs must not be permitted in the Castle, allowing motorized recreation is simply not scientifically defensible. ”
OHV use has high impacts on riparian zones and wetlands because of soft soils and the fragile nature of stream beds. The OHV trails themselves deliver sediment to streams when it rains, which can kill westslope cutthroat trout eggs and stress adult fish, decreasing their chances of recovery. OHVs driven through stream beds or other waterways disturb aquatic habitat, destroying the ability for fish to reproduce.