Protestors to Appeal Court Order

January 31, 2012

Several of the parties named in Enforcement Order 01/2012 are appealing that order. We have a number of issues with the Enforcement Order including the draconian and undemocratic order that, “The Parties shall not occupy or use any other public lands in the Province of Alberta unless otherwise authorized to do so.”

Counsel for the parties named in Court Order 1201-00816 (January 27, 2012) will appear in Chambers at the Calgary Court Centre on Friday, February 3, 2012 to appeal the Court Order. Our counsel feels there are numerous issues relating to both the substance and the process of the Court Order.

We are asking SRD to instruct SLS to stand down and not to begin any logging until the appeals are heard. If the logging were to begin, and if we were successful on appeal, we would also seek penalties for any damage the logging caused.


Court Order Served, Monday Jan 30

January 30, 2012

Around 3:30 pm today, SRD officers arrived with a Court Order directing us to cease and desist our actions.

RCMP Inspector McGeough was also on site and, using his discretion, gave us until Wednesday morning at 8 am to discuss the matter with our lawyer. After that time, the RCMP will begin enforcing the order.

We have contacted our lawyer, and will consult with him tomorrow.

The logging operation is not to be started tomorrow, but some protestors do plan to be there to continue to  make passersby aware of the situation.

There is some video of today’s events at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdugF-LL6eg&feature=youtube_gdata.


Update, Sunday Jan 29

January 29, 2012

Not too much new over the weekend. We had plenty of protestors today (Sunday), and lots of people waving, giving a thumbs up, and honking their horns.

Protestors will be out at the site again tomorrow. We’ll see what the morrow brings.

Please join us at the protest site if you can.


Update, Saturday, January 28

January 28, 2012

Day 18 and counting.

Protestors were out again today. People stopped to chat, to take photos, and to leave some goodies behind.

We’re hoping for a good turnout at the protest site tomorrow (Sunday, January 29). Please come and show your opposition to clear cutting in the Castle. Bring a sign.

The protest site is at the Corrals, approximately 1.7 km past the Castle Special Management Area (Forest Reserve) Gate, on Hwy 774 driving towards the Castle Mountain Ski Area. (49.418126 N, 114.289171 W)

Please note there are no facilities of any kind.

Ground Rules for the Protest Site:

1. All actions are to be strictly non-violent

2. All are to be treated with respect

3. No weapons of any kind are permitted

4. No alcohol or drugs are permitted


Update for Friday, Jan 27

January 27, 2012

We had expected a visit from SRD and the RCMP, but things were quiet at the protest site today except for the visit from RCMP Inspector McGeough from Lethbridge. Not sure what that means.

We’ll be out at the protest site again tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday.

The protest site is at the Corrals, approximately 1.7 km past the Castle Special Management Area (Forest Reserve) Gate, on Hwy 774 driving towards the Castle Mountain Ski Area. (49.418126 N, 114.289171 W)

Come and join us if you can. Bring a sign.


Thursday, January 26 Update

January 26, 2012

It was quiet at the protest site today. Neither the RCMP nor SRD visited.

We did however, have a visit from a CTV news crew, and from “Protests r Us” catering service.

The camp is still up, and protestors spent the day holding signs and waving at the passing vehicles. As usual, the number of waves, honks, and thumbs up vastly outnumbered any negative reactions.

We’ll be back at the site tomorrow.

Given how eerily quiet it was today, we’re wondering if something might be up for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s weather looks pretty good. Please come out and join us if you can.


Protest Update, January 25, Late Edition

January 25, 2012

Late this afternoon, a large number of SRD officials, Spray Lake Sawmills personnel and contractors, and two RCMP officers along with the regional staff sergeant showed up at the site. A number of our  supporters also arrived.

The feller-buncher was started up, and we were asked to leave. Five or six people stood in front of the machine and said they won’t move. We were all given an Enforcement Order, and all the officials and the loggers left.

We’ve sent the document to our lawyers for an opinion and legal advice.

We’ll be back at the site tomorrow.


Protest Update January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012

Contrary to what you may have heard, the Protest Camp is still up, and the Protest Continues.

Here’s a photo from this morning:

Protest Jan 25

Protest, Jan 25

Yesterday, a big contingent of SRD officials, Spray Lake Sawmills and contractor personnel, along with a couple of RCMP officers came to the site. The logging equipment was fired up.

We called out for help, and a goodly number of our supporters showed up, as did the Pincher Creek Voice, and Global and CTV. Telephone interviews were done with CBC English and French.

Three protestors stood in the way of the machine, and said they wouldn’t leave. The SRD officers conferred, and then, just around noon, SRD, Spray Lakes, and the RCMP all left. One RCMP officer stopped this morning to see how things were going but, other than that, we haven’t seen any other officials.

More soon… Gotta get back to the site.


SRD Officers Expected to Show Up in Force Tuesday

January 24, 2012

We’re expecting SRD officials to show up in force tomorrow to try to evict the protesters.

Please call Premier Redford’s office, and let her know that you are opposed to both this action and to clear-cut logging in the Castle.

And, if you can get to the protest site tomorrow, we could use some help.

See http://www.pinchercreekvoice.com/2012/01/castle-logging-protesters-recieve.html#more for a story about today’s events.

Also, the following media advisory:

MEDIA ADVISORY

Castle Logging Protesters Expect Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Officers to Show up in Force on Tuesday Morning, January 24

For 13 days citizens have braved the cold to protest against plans by Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) to clear-cut log in the Castle area, southwest of Beaver Mines, Alberta.
Today, Monday January 23, a large number of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) Officers and SLS employees and contractors were seen meeting on a side road in Beaver Mines.
Late in the day, SRD officers arrived at the protest site to serve a “Trespasser Declaration” which says that the tents that have been part of the protest are now “property of the Crown”.

Given the Trespasser Declaration and the large number of SRD and SLS staff and contractors in the area, the protesters expect to be visited by SRD officers in the morning of Tuesday, January 24. Officers may try to evict the protesters. It’s not known what time the officers might arrive, but it’s likely to be between 8:30 and 10:00 am.

The protest site is at the Corrals, approximately 1.7 km past the Castle Special Management Area (Forest Reserve) Gate, on Hwy 774 driving towards the Castle Mountain Ski Area. (49.418126 N, 114.289171 W)

Background  
Despite public opinion polls showing that more than three quarters of regional residents are opposed, clear cut logging in the Castle Special Management area near Beaver Mines is about to begin. The proposed logging will not only be detrimental to the watershed, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and area wilderness-based businesses, but will be an eyesore to everyone that drives to the Castle Mountain Ski area.

Experts on grizzly bears and watershed health have spoken out against the logging, citing irreversible effects on ecosystem function and wildlife habitat quality.

Local wilderness-based businesses are concerned that the proposed logging will damage their business opportunities.

Citizens are having a hard time understanding why, after thousands of opposition e-mails, five rallies and protests across Southern Alberta, hundreds of letters and phone calls, and numerous meetings with government officials, the government insists on proceeding with this unwanted and ill-advised logging.

Citizens are not convinced by SRD’s economic or scientific justifications for the logging. Rather, it’s commonly believed that the real reasons for the clear cutting are 1. welfare logging, and 2. turf protection on the part of SRD.
Local residents feel that SLS and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development have chosen a place to begin logging that will act as a “poke in the eye” to the public.
For more information:
Stop Castle Logging Group— Peter Sherrington, 403 627 3522
Satellite Phone at the Protest Site– 011 then 8816 314 66612 (International Call)

Jan 22 Rally a Big Success

January 22, 2012

About 150–200 folks from as far away as Canmore, Calgary, and Lethbridge turned out for Sunday’s rally. One after another, speakers got up on the makeshift stage to recite some poetry or read some prose, to sing, or to say a few words.

The messages were universally uplifting, but the overall theme was that the government, and particularly the Forest Service, is completely out of touch with the public and that something has to be done to rein them in. This is our forest, and we want a say in how it’s managed. And we want this unwanted and ill-advised logging stopped.

I think it’s also fair to say that the general feeling was that the Forest Service has all but lost its social licence to operate. The Service is seen as a dinosaur from another era that needs to either adapt or perish.

The event was also a perfect time to visit with friends and neighbours, and to reinforce the fact that we’re all in this together whether in Beaver Mines or farther afield.

Here are a few photos from the rally.

The youngest speaker.

Rally Image 1

Rally Image 2


Rally, Sunday Jan 22, 2–4 pm, Update

January 21, 2012

The rally will go ahead as planned. It might be a bit windy, but it should be fairly mild.

Please bring a friend and a sign.

The rally will take place just inside the Castle Special Management Area, approx 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.)

A few details:

1. To keep parking issues to a minimum, please car pool if possible.

2. Please obey the 50 km/h speed limit through Beaver Mines. There is likely to be a speed trap set up.

3. There are no facilities of any kind. The nearest washrooms are at the Beaver Mines store.


Rally, Sunday January 22, 2–4 pm

January 20, 2012

Here is the notice about the rally that the AWA sent to its members.

Dear Members and Supporters in Southern Alberta:

The Castle Wilderness Area is at risk. These past 8 days, our colleagues with the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and the folks of Beaver Mines who have formed the group Stop Castle Logging, have held a media conference and have been taking turns manning a camp at the site where Alberta SRD and Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd, a subsidiary of Spray Lakes Sawmills Ltd, plan to begin logging.

Their tenacity and strength as they were served with a Notice of Development by Alberta SRD yesterday is something they do for the greater good – for the protection of our forests, for the reasonable demand that we consider years old forest logging plans out of date; to show that as Albertans we want new and better science about managing forests implemented.  We want our forests managed not primarily for timber but for their vital ecological values, including the water security of downstream communities.

There has been significant work by all Alberta conservation groups on this issue from Waterton to Kakwa, and we all share in the message from the folks on the front line of the Castle. This is not just a local issue. We know the way our Alberta forests are managed must change.  Clean, abundant drinking water, habitat for wildlife, and sustainable recreation opportunities depend on that change.

Despite significant evidence from public opinion polls that Albertans want the Castle area protected, likely thousands of calls and letters since September 2011 to our Premier opposing the way forests are managed and seeking protection for the Castle Wilderness, and the science that shows us we need to update our forest management practices, the response from our government has been a “Notice of Development ” order served yesterday by Blairmore Alberta SRD officer Cory Wojtowicz, warning our colleagues they are trespassing.

On Sunday January, 22nd at 2pm, there will be a rally just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approximately 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.) I am writing today to invite you to attend the rally, and if you cannot be there, to consider inviting someone you know to go. More details can be found at stopcastlelogging.org.

If you would like to read more about our recommendations for sustainable forest management please follow this link: http://albertawilderness.ca/news/2011/2011-10-25-news-release-southwest-alberta-groups-release-new-recommendations-for-sustainable-forest-management-1

This is one of those times when we must not doubt the power of the people, as Margaret Mead wrote so poignantly Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Yours in conservation,

Christyann

Christyann Olson

Executive Director

Alberta Wilderness Association

“Defending Wild Alberta through Awareness and Action”

Mail:      Box 6398 Station D, Calgary AB T2P 2E1

Street:   455-12 St NW Calgary, AB T2N 1Y9

403.283.2025    www.AlbertaWilderness.ca


SRD Notice of Development

January 20, 2012

Here is the Notice of Development that is posted at the protest site, plus the associated map with some editorial comment by savethecastle.org.


Protest Update, Jan 20, SRD Officers Post “Notice of Development”

January 20, 2012

The expected visit occurred yesterday, January 19, at about 1:30 pm. Five SRD Officers showed up and posted a “Notice of Development” at the protest site, and gave copies of the notice to the protesters that were there.

Mike Judd with SRD Officer

The notice says that the entire Spray Lake Sawmills logging area going up towards Beaver Mines Lake, plus a 100 m boundary around the logging area is “not vacant land” and that, “Access to and occupation of the Development Area by individuals that are not specifically authorized under the Public Lands Act is prohibited.”

In effect, the notice closes a very large area of public land for an undetermined length of time. The closure area on the map even crosses Hwy 774 in a couple of places. It appears that skiers driving to Castle Mountain Resort will be trespassing on public land!

The notice seems simultaneously draconian and toothless at the same time. On one hand, a large area of public land is closed to everyone but SLS by the signature of a single SRD enforcement officer. On the other hand, the document doesn’t even indicate what government department is involved, doesn’t indicate the official capacity of the officer signing the document, and says that “…failure to immediately comply with this public notice may, without further notice, result in enforcement action under the Public Lands Act.”  In other words, it appears protesters have been warned but not yet legally told to vacate the area.

It also appears that SRD is suggesting that the random campsites, that were set up legally set up before the site was posted, are now considered in trespass even though the camps are still within the time limits allowed.

The Pincher Creek Voice has coverage of yesterday’s events.

We are consulting with our lawyers to decide on our next moves. In the meantime, as no one has been legally been told to leave, protesters will remain at the site. Your presence would be much appreciated!

On Sunday, Jan 22, from 2–4 pm we’re having a rally to oppose the proposed logging. We’re contacting people now to come out to do some reading, recite some poetry, etc. We’ll have an open mike so we can hear from you. This may be our last best chance to keep the trees from falling by telling the government how much we’re opposed to this ill-advised logging plan. Please bring your family, friends, and signs with your messages for the government.

The rally will take place just inside the Castle Special Management Gate, approx 9 km southwest of Beaver Mines on Hwy 774 (49.414973 N, 114.269839 W). Off-highway parking will be available along Range Road 30A, just outside the Castle gate. (This location is outside the area closed by SRD, and has safe, off-highway parking.)


Protest to Continue Tuesday, Jan 17

January 16, 2012

The protest will continue on Tuesday, Jan 17. For directions etc see the Jan 13 entry Help Residents’ Camp & Picket-Line Hold Back Clear-Cutting Protected Area.

It was frosty today, and will be colder tomorrow. Please be prepared!


Protest to Continue Monday Jan 16

January 15, 2012

It’s been five days and counting that Spray Lake Sawmills has been unable to start any logging operations.

There were a good number of folks out today to walk the picket line, including a good contingent from Calgary.

Our unofficial poll of vehicles shows that the honks, waves, and “thumbs up” vastly outnumber the negative reactions. Thanks to everyone that gave us a friendly wave and smile today!

We’ll be out again tomorrow, Monday, Jan 16. Please come and join us if you can. It’ll be cold. Dress twice as warmly as you think you need to.


Protest to Continue Sunday, Jan 15

January 14, 2012

The protest is scheduled to continue on Sunday, Jan 15. Please join us if you can.

Note that the weather is forecast to become very cold, and the roads are likely to be poor. Plan accordingly.

Details are per the Jan 13 blog entry: Help Residents’ Camp & Picket-Line Hold Back Clear-Cutting Protected Area

Hope to see you there.


Help Residents’ Camp & Picket-Line Hold Back Clear-Cutting Protected Area

January 13, 2012

Help Residents’ Camp & Picket-Line Hold Back Clear-Cutting Protected Area

Three days and counting, holding back the clear-cut logging in the Castle Special Place protected area. For more info: Facebook “like” Stop Castle Logging, www.savethecastle.org and blog at www.stopcastlelogging.org

LOCATION:

Follow signs to Castle Mountain Resort, Alberta. West of Beaver Mines on #774, drive 1.7 kms past the Castle Special Management Area / Forestry entrance. On left hand side. (Coordinates 49.418126 N, 114.289171 W).

Important: Please obey the speed limit through the Hamlet of Beaver Mines!

TO VOLUNTEER FOR A SHIFT ON SITE:

Come anytime during daylight, Saturday, Jan 14.  For days after:

Phone Peter Sherrington 403 627-3522 psherrin@telusplanet.netor Carolyn Aspeslet at Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition office 9:30 am to 2:30 pm 403 627-5059 or evenings 403 628-3528,office@ccwc.ab.ca or Mike Judd 403 627-2949.

CAN’T COME – HELP BY

Phoning & emailing Premier Alison Redford 310-0000, premier@gov.ab.ca   And if resident in Alberta, also phone & email your MLA, find at http://streetkey.elections.ab.ca/

REMEMBER IF COMING:

Dress warm. Come self contained (snacks, lunch, water, etc).  Please remember that there are no facilities of any kind.  Outhouses are further along the road at the Syncline x-country parking lot, or store with food & washrooms in Beaver Mines.

PLEDGE:

To keep the camp a peaceful, lawful and respectful site.  Saving the Castle protected area & all there deserve that respect.


News Release: Failure of government to listen results in residents out in force to protest logging

January 12, 2012

Failure of government to listen results in residents out in force to protest logging

January 12, 2012

Beaver Mines:  Yesterday morning, more than thirty local residents braved the cold to tell the government that they oppose clear-cut log in the Castle Special Management Area west of Pincher Creek, Alberta. The residents have a multitude of concerns, starting with logging should not be occurring in what the province designated as a Special Place protected area to “preserve Alberta’s natural heritage.”  Other concerns include the damage the logging will do to this popular recreation area, outdoor recreation-based businesses, the main water source for southern Alberta, and what the province zoned as Critical Wildlife and defined as crucial for maintenance of specific fish and wildlife populations. They are frustrated that the government is ignoring its own protected area decisions and citizen’s concerns.  They called on all other voters to phone and email Premier Redford and their local MLA to save their recreation area.

“I think it was clear yesterday morning that Spray Lake’s and SRD’s “social contract” for logging in the Castle has expired”, says Gordon Petersen, Beaver Mines Resident & President of the local Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition. The heavy machinery is waiting on site until SLS and SRD figure out what to do with protesters that remain at the site.  “Unless enough voters speak out, their favourite recreation area is going to largely wind up in wood chips and fence posts,” says Petersen.

Half of the mature forest in the popular recreation core of the Castle is slated for logging over the next three winters, with some clear-cut blocks stretching upwards of two miles long.  Spray Lake Sawmills plans on removing 4,737 trucks of logs; pending the low lumber market.  About 40% of the volume of logs will wind up as wood chips and fence posts.

In 1998 the Alberta government protected the Castle as one of 81 areas across the province under its Special Places 2000 policy. But the Castle, unlike the other 80, has yet to be legislated because SRD claimed they could use other tools to achieve the preservation and outdoor recreation goals stipulated in the Ministers’ decision.  In 2001, Alberta Environment and SRD issued a public document saying they couldn’t proceed with the final step in implementing the protected area decision until the province’s Ministers (Cabinet) decided what kind of park they were going to legislate it as.

“Since when does one government department, SRD, get to override a decision of Cabinet; one that was the result of years of public consultation?” asks Dianne Pachal of Sierra Club of Canada’s, Alberta Wild Program.

At the general invitation of the Tourism, Recreation and Parks Minister, a local, consensus-based process of businesses, Shell Canada, ranchers, recreational groups and conservation groups solved the 2001 log-jam of what kind of legislation for the Castle; recommending in 2009 that it be legislated as a Wildland Park.

In 2010, without public consultation on the location of the logging licence, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) gave Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) permission to clear-cut in the core of the Castle where all the campgrounds (Beavers Mines Lake, Castle Falls, Castle River Bridge and Lynx Creek) and Scouts Canada’s Camp Impeesa are located, and on the way to the Castle Mountain Resort. They expanded the logging license last year, again without public consultation, and signed off on the company’s detailed logging plan this past fall.

Recent surveys show a large majority are against the logging and for a Wildland Park, irrespective of voting preference. Seventy-seven percent of residents adjacent the Castle, and 85% of Lethbridge residents oppose clear-cut logging in the Castle, while 74% and 87% respectively want to see it as a Wildland Park.

“The government is ignoring the interests and concerns of the local communities in favour of the interests of a private company not even located in the region. This is an opportunity for the new Premier to show real leadership by halting this unwanted and ill-advised logging, and then providing permanent protection for the Castle by making it a Wildland Park,” says Petersen.

Petersen says that residents and business owners feel so strongly about the logging that they are vowing to continue the fight even if the first trees start to fall.

For further comment:

Gordon Petersen, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition: (403) 627-3732

Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club of Canada, Alberta Wild Program: (403) 234-7368


Protest and Press Conference, Jan 11

January 11, 2012

Logging Protesters

This morning some 30+ residents, friends, and neighbours gathered to Protest clear cut logging in the Castle, and to attend a Press Conference at the site where Spray Lake Sawmills is planning to start clear cut logging

SLS personnel and contractors arrived at the site to find the Cat and Feller-Buncher they’d parked the night before surrounded by people, cars, and signs.

After a cordial and respectful discussion with those present, the SLS folks decided to retire for the day to consider their next move.

The Press Conference went well. A number of TV networks sent crews that kept busy interviewing the protesters and filming the action. Print and Internet media were also in attendance.

Protesters plan to be at the site again tomorrow (Thursday, Jan 12).

Castle—Sold Out

A frosty morning

Stop Castle Logging


News Release: Alberta Government Deaf to Citizen’s Logging Concerns

January 6, 2012

Here’s a News Release from the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition

Alberta Government Deaf to Citizen’s Logging Concerns

For Immediate Release

January 6, 2012

Beaver Mines, Alberta – Despite near unanimous opposition to logging in the Castle Special Management Area in southwestern Alberta, the Department of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) continues to push through with its ill-advised clear cut logging plans.

Yesterday morning, local residents went to the area where the logging is about to begin. They found the parking area cleared to accommodate Spray Lake Sawmills’ logging equipment, and flagging tape marking the cut block boundaries. (Please see attached photographs.)

“It’s unbelievable,” says Gordon Petersen, President of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, “that SRD still insists on this uneconomical logging in a matchstick forest despite public opinion polls that show that more than three quarters of regional residents are opposed to the logging, and despite the thousands of opposition e-mails, five rallies and protests across Southern Alberta, and the hundreds of letters and phone calls the government has received. Is there simply no way to influence government decisions?”

Experts on grizzly bears and watershed health have also spoken out against the logging, citing irreversible effects on ecosystem function and wildlife habitat quality. The logging will not only be detrimental to the watershed, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and area wilderness-based businesses, but will be an eyesore to everyone that drives to the Castle Mountain Ski area.

“They couldn’t have picked a more obvious or unfortunate place to begin the logging”, says Peter Sherrington, a local resident. “It’s like SRD wants to hit the public hard and fast to take the wind out of any opposition.”

“We’re really talking about democracy here, or lack thereof”, added Petersen. “SRD is putting the interests of a private company, as well as its own institutional interests, ahead of the public good. Clearly the majority of the public is against logging in the Castle, but SRD has been completely deaf to these concerns.”

“We are appealing to the Premier to step in and stop the logging. Premier Redford has said that politics is changing in Alberta. Now she has an opportunity to demonstrate that the Conservative government is really listening to Albertans and what they want for their public lands”, continued Mr. Petersen.  “It’s time to put an end to this folly. Stop the logging in the Castle, and permanently protect this Special Place once and for all.”

For more information contact:

Gordon Petersen, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, President 403-627-3732

Peter Sherrington, Local Resident, 403-627-3522

Carolyn Aspeslet, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, Executive Director 402-627-5059

Matchstick Forest

 

Matchstick Forest

Matchstick Forest


Alberta logging could hamper USA grizzly bear recovery

January 2, 2012
Sierra Club Canada, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defence Council, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition, Valhalla Wilderness Society

NEWS RELEASE
Alberta logging could hamper USA grizzly bear recovery
Calgary & Livingstone: While most were making merry during the holidays, the Grinch positioned himself in southwest Alberta’s Castle Special Management Area, located 12 miles north of Glacier National Park; ready to clear-cut log critical habitat for grizzly bears, including those with dual USA and Canadian citizenship.  Despite having designated this Rocky Mountain wildland as a Special Place protected area in 1998 “for the preservation of Alberta’s natural heritage,” the Alberta Government says Spray Lake Sawmills can start any time now inside it with clear-cut logging. Just before Christmas, the company told area residents they would start in two to three weeks.  The logging includes that zoned by the province since 1985 as Critical Wildlife and defined as “crucial to the maintenance of specific fish and wildlife populations.” The Castle is within National Geographic’s Crown of the Continent geotourism area and includes the Castle Mountain Resort, as well as habitat for 223 species listed as rare or at risk of extirpation (extinction within Alberta).
The southwest corner of Alberta is part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in the USA’s grizzly bear recovery efforts; an area in northwest Montana that extends partway into Canada.  The Alberta portion is known to scientists as a mortality sink for grizzly bears – a place where grizzlies die pre-maturely or are removed, draining the population.  There are an estimated 51 grizzlies there, including those that live both sides of the border.  Known human caused deaths there averaged 2.5 grizzly bears per year over the three years of 2008 through 2010, plus the unreported deaths.  That is well above the threshold of 1.4 deaths per year that scientists estimate the population can sustain in that habitat. 
“Adding logging roads and clear-cutting on top of that will only make the drain in the sink that much bigger,” says Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club Canada’s Alberta Wild Director.
Certain logging practices may simulate fire by stimulating production of bear foods.  However, Alberta’s updated grizzly bear status report concluded the increased motorized access connected with logging in Alberta diminishes any potential positive effects of forest regrowth after logging.
Last spring, Global Forest Watch Canada’s report on old resource roads and trails left open to motorized use in the Castle, despite government access plans saying otherwise, was front-page news in Alberta.  The report, which made use of satellite imagery, concluded there was no longer any secure habitat left there for grizzlies.
“I, together with other grizzly bear scientists have twice previously written Alberta’s Premier emphasizing the need for laws protecting the Castle within its parks system,” says bear biologist Wayne McCrory. “More than a decade of special management in the absence of those laws hasn’t worked to turn around the mortality sink.”
Alberta lists grizzly bears as a threatened species, but the province has no laws requiring habitat protection for threatened and endangered species.   The federal laws only apply directly to lands under federal jurisdiction.  Nor is there any binding requirement that the government agencies work together to accomplish grizzly bear recovery, as there is with the USA’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
Conservation organizations in Alberta note that while residents of the private lands are to be commended for wanting to keep grizzly bears a part of southwest Alberta, the province is expediting habitat loss in the Castle, which is 400 square miles of public land all under Alberta’s jurisdiction. 
The logging plans were developed by the province, even though the logging company has stated it won’t make any money doing the logging.  Alberta rates the Castle as low risk for a pine beetle epidemic and adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park has been successful at managing the risk of wild fire without the use of clear-cut logging. 
Independent surveys found that three-quarters or more of area residents oppose the logging and want to see Wildland Park laws used to secure better protection for the Castle.
For More Information Contact:
Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club Canada, Alberta Wild Director, 403 234-7368
Wayne McCrory, McCrory Wildlife Services Ltd., 250-358-7796
Louisa Wilcox, Natural Resources Defense Council, Senior Wildlife Advocate, 406 222-9561 (ex 3)
Gordon Petersen, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, President, 403 627-3732

Maps & Background Attached



Will the Grinch Steal your Park this Christmas? Logging may begin over holidays in Alberta protected area

January 2, 2012

See the story in The Nanton News http://www.nantonnews.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3411267