Media Release

February 23, 2012

Castle Special Place Logging Protestors and Crown Reach Agreement on February 24 Court Proceedings

February 23, 2012. For Immediate Release

Provincial officials have decided not to charge anti-logging protestors who were arrested on February 1 in the Castle Special Place. In addition, protestors who were named in the related Court Order will not be appealing that Order in court.

Lawyers for the protestors, and the Crown’s lawyer, reached an out-of-court understanding where no further action will be taken against those arrested, and where the Court Order will be allowed to expire.

“We’re pleased to have come to an agreement that will resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the logging arrests and the Court Order”, said Gordon Petersen, one of those named in the Court Order. “Now we can get on with the business of challenging the substantive legal issues surrounding the granting of the logging licence, and challenging the logging itself.”

For more than three weeks, and braving a cold snap where temperatures plunged to –35°, dozens of local residents, business leaders, and activists protested logging in the Castle Special Place. The area, designated a protected area by Cabinet in 1998, is critical for the protection of Southern Alberta’s watershed, as well as part of an international conservation area for the endangered grizzly bear.

Logging began shortly after four people were arrested on February 1.

“It’s shocking and shameful that citizens were forced to face incarceration to try to stop logging in the Castle”, says Petersen. “We had hoped that the overwhelming public opposition to the clear cut logging would have been enough, but the government appears to be deaf to the public’s concerns.”

Local activists are planning to continue with court action of their own. In addition, they continue to call on citizens across Alberta to make their voices heard by calling the Premier and their MLA’s at 310-0000.


Castle “Yarn Bombing”

February 17, 2012

How cool is this?!

Yarn Bomb

Courtesy of Art Works for Wild Spaces

An anonymous group of a dozen artists spent several hours producing a visual statement about caring for our environment by “Yarn Bombing” a group of trees in the Castle Special Place, near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Each handmade afghan becomes a metaphor for nurturing and warmth. Art Works For Wild Spaces created this spontaneous event to direct attention to the need to protect the Castle. 

Yarn Bomb

Courtesy of Art Works for Wild Spaces

 

The yarn-bombing site is along Highway 774, 4 km south of the area that is presently being logged, and just north of the turnoff for Beaver Mines Lake. 

 

“There is a silly element to the end result of a yarn bomb, one that brings a smile to the viewers face,” explained Barbara Amos, as spokesperson for the group.  “However it wise to remember that this art event was born from the exhausting effort and hard work behind creating a voice for wild spaces.”

 

This is a temporary public art project. After a period of time, the trees will be unwrapped. In the meantime, the group hopes that many will enjoy the installation, and that many will pause to reflect on the “knitting together” of people, their communities, and the beauty in the space that surrounds them.
Yarn Bomb

Courtesy of Art Works for Wild Spaces

Yarn Bomb

Courtesy of Art Works for Wild Spaces


A VALENTINE’S DAY RANT by Sid Marty

February 16, 2012

A VALENTINE’S DAY RANT

 

At a Valentines day rally against the clear-cut logging in the Castle Mountains of Alberta, I asked the crowd of 150, assembled at the premier’s Calgary office,  “Do you realize it’s against the law for me to stand on this publicly owned land and speak to you today?” I explained how, as a reward for trying to stop the destruction of the Castle Special Place, an executive director with Alberta’s oxymoronic Sustainable Resource Development ministry had issued a bunch of us, mostly old-timers, with an order to stay off all public land in this province. In 1600 B.C., Emperor Wu of China said “To protect your rivers, protect your mountains” but that maxim is too avant-garde for the government of Alberta. “ If you try to protect Alberta’s mountains,” I continued, “ they will arrest you and forbid you from setting foot upon them. Well, I’m standing on public land. So if you are a law-abiding citizen, do your duty.  Call the cops and have me arrested.”

Although three of Calgary’s finest were standing near, they declined to take us up on the offer.

On January 24, four “obstructors” as SRD styles us—Tim Grier, Dianne Calder, Gordon Petersen and yours truly faced off with an idling bulldozer and fellerbuncher in the forest reserve near Beaver Mines, for a moment of protest Zen. We stared back at the operators, thinking about the events that had brought us to this point, after three weeks of picketing the site. The dude in the tracked fellerbuncher exercised the machine’s giant metal jaws, clacking them open and shut with a noise like a sprung bear trap.

We knew the area had been identified as a special place by the Alberta Government in l998. as part of a “network of protected areas” as “a major milestone in the preservation of Alberta’s natural heritage for future generations.”  We knew the area is designated “critical wildlife” habitat, yet is part of a mortality sink for grizzly bears traveling up from Montana, where they are classified as an endangered species. In Alberta,  grizzlies are listed as “threatened” but Alberta is where Montana bears come to die. We knew there had been no survey to identify bear dens in the cut block, contrary to SRD’s own mandate.  We knew that 80 percent of the local population opposed the logging, and we knew that a group of citizens were talking to the Premier that very day in a last ditch effort to get a reprieve for the Castle headwaters. In fact, a group of local people, ourselves included, had been working for years to get the area protected as a wild land park.  They had the blessing of a minister of tourism for the project.   Eighty thousand people (and counting) had called the premier’s office to try and stop the clear cut logging of the Castle, which provides a third of the water input to the Oldman River drainage and the cities of the plains.  Surely the government would not allow SRD to clear cut this vital watershed, when it was so obviously at odds with the PC cabinet’s  stated position on the Castle? But we also knew that SRD cared little about any of this.  We knew that SRD was determined to log half of the 52 square kilometer license including old growth in these woods and turn whatever was not useable as lumber—40 percent– into garden mulch and fence posts.  You see, the more you damage an area, the less likely it is going to be set aside for a park, and the more likely SRD will maintain control of this piece of its turf.

All the above citizens, of course, were not there at that moment. We were the point of the spear. I asked the folks at the rally “What would you have done? Would you have stepped aside, let all those folks down and let the destruction begin? Or would you have fought for what is right, for what is sustainable, for what is best for the people of Alberta, for the wildlife and the watershed?” The shouts of approval sounded a bit tentative, I must admit. Nobody wants to tangle with the legal system.

SRD may have a legal right to clear-cut, but I would argue they no longer enjoy the social license that goes with it. It’s 2012, not l912 and we cannot support a forestry department that will not give equal weight to all that the forest offers us, in terms of recreation, watershed protection and wildlife habitat.  Do we really have to quantify water production in the forest, while water levels shrink in our major rivers? High quality raw water is beyond price, of course. But what about its value in industrial applications and agriculture?  If the trees are worth one dollar each to the government in stumpage, (say a quarter-million dollars), I want to know what the forest is worth in terms of enhanced water retention, oxygen production, sequestration of carbon and generation of tourism dollars. Is it worth millions to our economy for these and other services it provides, or more likely, is that measured in billions?  You would think that the free market geniuses that run this province would at least figure out that trees are worth more to us alive than they are as garden mulch.  These are questions we, as activists, will have to answer with hard facts and figures, since SRD is not going to do the studies for us.

And there is another thing we have to do in the future. The people of this province, if they need air to breathe and water to drink, are going to have to recognize that a handful of people, many of them grandmas and grandpas, cannot do at their own expense and at their legal peril what battalions of politicians and bureaucrats are paid very well to do every day, which is protect the environment of Alberta and ensure that projects on our public lands are truly sustainable.  We have to turn out at these types of protest actions not by the dozens, but by the thousands, until the current Nexus of Nitwits finally gets the message that talk-talk-talk while you continue to drill, blast and clear-cut will no longer fool the majority.  Alberta is a spacious and lofty land that deserves the very best from us.  It’s about time we matched its natural grandeur with some newer and grander ideas.

 

 

SID MARTY

WILLOW VALLEY, ALBERTA

 

Poet and author Sid Marty, is a fourth generation Albertan. In 2008, he won the Grant MacEwan Literary Arts Award for his career contributions to the literature of Alberta.


Valentine’s Day Rallies in Calgary and Edmonton

February 15, 2012

Good Afternoon,

On behalf of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, the Alberta Wilderness Association, and the Bragg Creek Environmental Association, please find the inserted and attached media release. Interview contacts are at the end of this email for further information.


MEDIA RELEASE – For Immediate Release

Over a hundred attend Valentine’s Day Rallies in Support of Forests

February 14th, 2012

Calgary, Edmonton, AB: More than 170 people attended rallies today in Calgary and Edmonton to send a strong message to the Government of Alberta: Albertans love their forests and don’t want the heart of protected areas like the Castle Special Place or poplar trail systems in Bragg Creek to be logged.

The message for the Valentine’s Day rally the Government of Alberta was clear: there is significant support for the protection of the places Albertan’s love. About 130 people attended a rally at the McDougall Centre in Calgary, the Office of the Premier in Southern Alberta while over 40 people rallied on the steps of the Legislature in Edmonton.

“Albertans love their forests, their Wildlands, their parks and recreation areas,” said Sarah Elmeligi of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“While logging has a place in the economy in Alberta, ensuring places like West Bragg Creek are prioritized for the use and enjoyment of visitors and residents to Kananaskis, and the Castle Special Place is protected for Southern Alberta’s water supply is important.”

“The government protected The Castle Special Place in 1998. Visitors and residents love the Castle,” said Gordon Petersen, a resident of Beaver Mines, Alberta who traveled to Calgary for the rally. “75% of local residents want to see that protection made permanent as a Wildland Park.”

“Local residents with the Greater Bragg Creek Trail Association, in partnership with Tourism, Parks and Recreation Alberta have invested more than two thousand, five hundred hours and $300,000 constructing a trail system in West Bragg Creek so that locals and visitors can enjoy nature and support the local economy,” said Ralph Cartar of The Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition. “Now we’re going to log over 19 of the 21 trails we’ve built in partnership with the Government of Alberta. This makes no sense ecologically or economically. Local businesses depend on those trails to attract visitors.”

“We’re calling on the Premier to halt logging projects in the Castle and to meaningfully engage the public in logging plans for the Bragg Creek area until we can assess the best way to manage our forests in the Southern Eastern Slopes,” said Nigel Douglas of the Alberta Wilderness Association. “Before we even have that conversation, the Castle Special Place must receive permanent protection as a Wildland Park. It’s had protection on paper since 1998; it’s time to show some love for Alberta’s forests and make that protection permanent.”

More than 100 Valentines were sent to the Premier by attendees at the rallies. Groups are encouraging Albertans who could not attend a rally to send a valentine message to the Premier asking that logging in the Castle and West Bragg Creek be halted, and that the Castle receive permanent protection as a Wildland Park. The Premier can be reached at 310-0000 or at premier@gov.ab.ca.

Raging Grannies in Calgary. Photo: Stephen Legault

Calgary Rally. Photo: Stephen Legault

Calgary Rally. Photo: Stephen Legault


Media Advisory—Valentine’s Day Rallies in Edmonton and Calgary to demonstrate public love for Alberta’s Forests and ask for improved forest management

February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact

Sarah Elmeligi, Senior Conservation Planner, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Southern Alberta Chapter: 403-688-8641

Nigel Douglas, Conservation Specialist, Alberta Wilderness Association, 403-283-2025


Media advisory – photo and interview opportunities

Concerned Albertans and local conservation groups will be hosting concurrent rallies in Edmonton and Calgary on Valentine’s Day to oppose some logging operations on the Eastern Slopes. Specifically, people are opposed to the current logging operation in the Castle Special Place (a designated protected area), and are concerned with the lack of public consultation regarding the proposed logging operation near Bragg Creek (a popular recreation destination). The processes by which these logging operations have been planned and approved is concerning to people across the province.

CPAWS Southern Alberta, Sierra Club Canada, Alberta Wilderness Association, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition, and Sustain Kananaskis have organized two rallies to demonstrate Albertans love for their forests. During and after the rallies there will be photo opportunities and representatives from the environmental organizations will be available for one on one interviews.

Where and when:

Both rallies will occur from 12pm-1pm on February 14, 2012

Edmonton – Front steps of the Legislature – 10800-97 ave.

Calgary – McDougall Centre – 455-6 st. SW


Valentine’s Day Rallies in Calgary and Edmonton

February 13, 2012

Please join us for Forestry rallies in Calgary and Edmonton on February 14, at 12:00 noon.

The rallies will highlight public concern over the current logging operation in the Castle Special Place, and the proposed logging in Bragg Creek.

Please come out and send your MLA and the Premier a Valentine’s message, “Please have a heart, and protect the Castle”.

The Calgary rally is at the McDougall Centre, 455 – 6 Street S.W.

Edmonton’s rally is at the Legislature.


LETTER TO THE PREMIER FROM THE PINCHER CREEK JAIL

February 9, 2012

LETTER TO THE PREMIER FROM THE PINCHER CREEK JAIL     February 1, 2012

Dear Premier Redford;

Around the World people have been fined and imprisoned for rejecting industrial clear-cut logging and the ecological devastation that it eventually brings to a nation. Here are a few examples: 1200 arrested at Reedy Creek, Australia; 800 at Clayaquot in B.C.; over 100 in Chital, Pakistan; 22 women at Grant’s Pass in Oregon; and over 60 First Nations People in the Great Bear Forest in B.C.; and today, four in Pincher Creek, Alberta.

In his book Collapse, Jerad Diamond delineates how deforestation is one of the major factors that lead to the disappearance of many past civilizations, and Global Forest Watch reports that 13,000,000 hectares of forest disappear annually around the World. Do you need to add this thin belt along the Eastern Slopes of Alberta to that statistic?

We’ve already seen over four decades of industrial logging in the Oldman Watershed and particularly in the headwaters of the Castle-Carbondale part of that drainage. We’ve seen the miles of stumps, windrows of waste wood, eroded skid roads, collapsing stream banks, weeds, escalating off-road vehicle abuse, and of course the 22,000 hectare fire that took place in all of that.

Now you’ve sanctioned removing most of the last small piece of intact forest left in this corner of the province. The place where the Grizzly, the Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Limber Pine and so many unique plants are listed by law, federally and provincially, as endangered. This area is also the study area for Grizzly Bear DNA research to establish how many or how few are left. It is classified as “critical winter ungulate range” where industrial activity is not allowed, by regulation. How have you justified removing those rules?

As you know, 75% of Southern Albertans do not want the Castle logged anymore. You have heard from many thousands via email and telephone messages to your office. Your response to date is to maintain the status quo, which is business as usual. Where is the change in that?

So here we sit today, four old men who have joined the thousands of voices in Alberta and around the World, the voices for wilderness, wildlife, water conservation, forest integrity, sustainability, healthy recreation, and everything that is good and beautiful in the Southern Alberta Eastern Slopes.

Why don’t you make the real change you promised, and that you have the authority to make, and stop this betrayal of the public trust?

Mike Judd

Jim Palmer

Reynold Reimer

Richard Collier


Calgary Herald Editorial Cartoon, Bears and Loggers

February 9, 2012

http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/editorial-cartoons/index.html#


“Make a Call for the Castle Day” Today. Rallies in Calgary and Edmonton Feb 14

February 7, 2012

Tuesday Feb 7 is ‘Make a Call for the Castle Day’.  

We need you to pick up the phone today, and dial.

Opposition to clear-cut logging in southern Alberta’s castle watershed and support for its permanent protection is unprecedented.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford and former Premier Ed Stelmach have received 80,000 letters and emails, and hundreds of phone calls from Albertans as well as people from around the world.

Despite this and a 3-week long protest at the logging site, road building has begun and logging will commence any day.

Now it’s time for Alberta’s legislators (called MLAs) to hear from people who want to see change.

On Tuesday February 7, we are asking people across Alberta and all around North America to make phone calls to ask for change.

Albertans Click here to find the contact information for your MLA. If you live elsewhere, call the Premier at the number below.

What should you say? Tell your MLA or the Premier’s Office that:

  • You are opposed to logging in the Castle watershed.
  • You support its permanent protection as a Wildland Provincial Park.

If you live in Alberta, please call your MLA first, and then the Premier.  You can reach them both through Alberta’s toll-free line at 310-0000. If you live outside of Alberta, call the Premier at 780-427-2251.

People have been working to protect the Castle Special Place for more than 30 years. Let your voice be heard!

Together we can save this special place.

What’s Next?

Rally to support Alberta’s forests

Rallies in support of stopping clear-cut logging in Alberta’s designated protected areas and popular recreation areas, including the Castle and Bragg Creek, will take place at 12:00pm to 1:00pm on Tuesday, February 14.

The rallies will be in Calgary at the McDougall Centre (455-6 St. SW), and in Edmonton, at the Provincial Legislature building (10800-97 Ave.). Bring a sign and your passion for protecting Alberta’s wilderness.

You can keep informed and updated on the campaign by “liking” the Castle Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/wwHAjl


Protestors Get Their (First) Day in Court

February 5, 2012

On Friday, Feb 3, we began our challenge of the Court Order banning us from the logging area in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary. Noting the full court room, the presiding judge observed that this was obviously a contentious issue.

Our lawyer, Mr. Clint Docken, and the Crown’s lawyer asked that the matter be adjourned until Feb 24 to allow time for each side to prepare their cases so the substantive issues could be discussed. The Chief Justice was consulted, and matters were held over until the 24th at 2:00 pm.

Our appeal of the Enforcement Order, which the Court Order is partly based on, began about 10 days ago.

There has been a lot of media interest in the Castle logging issue. Rather than put a slew of links here, I would suggest Googling “castle alberta logging”. Numerous links to stories will appear.

The source with the best overall coverage is the Pincher Creek Voice.

We plan to continue protesting near the cattle guard at the entrance to the Castle Special Management Area. If you have some time, please come out and show your support.

In addition, rallies are planned for Calgary and Edmonton on Wednesday. Further information will be posted as it becomes available.


Honk for Water, Wilderness and Reason

February 5, 2012

Here is Lorne Fitch’s Op Ed that was printed in the Lethbridge Herald.

Honk for Water, Wilderness and Reason

 Lorne Fitch, P. Biol.

A picket line has formed in a peaceful demonstration over logging in the Castle watershed. The Alberta Forest Service (AFS) has selected the beach-head, to begin this assault on the forests of the Castle, on secondary highway 774, just inside the forest reserve boundary, west of Pincher Creek. It is a route thousands take to access the Castle Mountain ski hill, to Beaver Mines Lake and to other recreational sites in the Castle. It is the route to easily the highest visitor use area of any part of the watershed. What seems evident is AFS purposefully selected this most visible site, as a “stick in the eye” to opponents of logging. The message is blunt and unambiguous- the area will be logged despite the concerns of Alberta citizens.

This protest has been building; several things help frame the actions of people on the picket line and elsewhere in Alberta. Among the things that puzzle people is the blatant disregard for existing policy, planning and process. In addition, neither the science, economics or public opinion support industrial scale, clearcut logging.

The overarching intent for the Castle is entrenched in Eastern Slopes Policy. Not surprisingly, to the many downstream communities dependant on water, the prime directive is watershed protection. Alberta Environment has questioned whether AFS has the necessary data, requisite skills and confidence in water quantity modeling to ensure logging doesn’t impact water supply. AFS response is along the lines of “don’t worry”. Many do worry since there is no evidence from any actual monitoring to substantiate this claim.

AFS pushed through the “C5 Forest Management Plan” in 2010. It is not, as the name implies, a plan to manage the forest, but rather a timber harvest plan. The “plan” continues to hew to a dangerous orthodoxy that the only way to manage a forest is to cut it down. Public consultation consisted of a handpicked committee who were led through the motions of participation on the way to a preconceived plan. AFS doesn’t “consult” with the public, it organizes information sessions to tell the public what decisions have been made.

Independent cumulative effects analysis of the Castle shows it to be an extremely busy place with a human footprint already too large to protect several imperiled species like grizzlies, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Logging adds to the existing footprint. Based on Freedom of Information materials AFS stifled the professional input and recommendations received from biologists in the Fish and Wildlife Division for the C5 plan. Any opinions that deviated from the AFS position were dealt with terse direction to “get into line”. Current logging plans have not been designed in the best interests of protecting fish and wildlife populations. Biodiversity protection instead has to rely on the much touted, but rarely tested, timber harvest operating ground rules.

The antithesis of AFS style planning was the Castle Special Place Working group, a true multi-stakeholder group of 34 organizations and individuals committed to protected area status for the Castle. Despite the degree of consensus and agreement achieved by this non-government initiative the desire of AFS to log trumped the efforts of citizens.

What AFS has derailed, with ill advised logging plans, is the reasonable expectation of many Albertans (and majority of local residents) for the Castle to finally achieve a level of protected status. Polls done in 2011 first in Lethbridge and Coaldale, then later in Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod and the Crowsnest Pass, found 80% and 77% of residents opposed to logging in the Castle, respectively. The C5 plan makes a commitment “to be responsive to changing social values concerning sustainable forest management”. The response on the part of AFS to overwhelming public opinion is to ram through the logging of the Castle.

Given this weight of evidence it is not unexpected that people will pick up signs and walk a picket line. It hardly makes them “radicals”. What seems more evident is they are radically representative of the concerns and interests of severely normal Albertans. They do not buy the propaganda the Castle has to be logged for fire protection, beetle control or that logging meets some mythical “international” standard. AFS is clutching at straws (or lodgepole pines) to rationalize logging.  Compared to this the demonstrators seem radically reasonable. Now is the time for the Alberta government to reciprocate their reasoned approach and suspend plans to log the Castle.

January, 2012

Lorne Fitch is a Professional Biologist, a retired Fish and Wildlife Biologist and an Adjunct Professor with the University of Calgary.


Arrests Made at Protest Site, Feb 1

February 1, 2012

About 30 people and a number of news organizations showed up at the protest site before 8 am this morning. RCMP Inspector McGeough and Corporal Gopp arrived with coffee and muffins. SRD was late.

We told Inspector McGeough that we were appealing both the Enforcement Order and the Court Order that told us to leave the protest site. The Inspector indicated that, regardless, he would be enforcing the Court Order.

Shortly after 8:00 we communicated this to all those assembled at the site. Most people left to reassemble down the road by the Castle Special Management Area boundary to continue protesting there.

Three people decided not to leave and were arrested. They were held in cells for at least a couple of hours before being released by Pincher Creek RCMP.

A fourth person returned to the site some time later and laid down in front of the logging equipment. He was also arrested, and later released.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the appeal of both the Enforcement Order and the Court Order, we asked SRD to instruct SLS to stand down and not to begin any logging until the appeals are heard. Unfortunately, Spray Lake Sawmills began cutting trees and presumably building an access road.

Our appeal of the Court Order will be heard on Friday at about 10 am at Chambers in the Calgary Court Centre.

We will continue to fight this logging in the courts.