'A lot of restoration required'"It's great that the government of Alberta is turning this into a special place with two parks," said Wynet Smith of Global Forest Watch, which conducted the study. "But it's evident from the data that there's a lot of restoration required."
Park was proposed last yearLast year, the NDP government proposed a wildland park and a provincial park in the area. Resource extraction would end, but the government suggested that off-road vehicles would still be allowed — something permitted in no other provincial park.
Government says off-road vehicle use will changeAlberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the province is still developing management plans for the parks in consultation with user groups. "This idea that (off-highway vehicle) use will continue as it has in the past in those areas is just wrong," she said. "If it's not consistent with disturbance limits, it will change. "But the process will dictate that." Officials with the Alberta Off-Highway Vehicle Association were not immediately available for comment. The research also looked into the usable, secure bear habitat in both proposed parks.
Almost 50 per cent of the wildland park is considered to be remote enough for bears. Only 1.5 square kilometres — .005 per cent — in the proposed provincial park is productive bear habitat. The Castle is connected to habitat in Montana and British Columbia that is home to about 1,000 grizzlies. "You can't manage these administrative boundaries in isolation from the ecological boundaries," said Smith. "The Castle is an important part of that broader ecosystem." Both areas require extensive restoration work, she said. "There's trails everywhere in the front country. It needs to be managed and restored so it can play its important role in that broader ecosystem." — Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960
"The Castle is an important part of that broader ecosystem."
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