08/24/2012 03:57 EDT | Updated 08/24/2012 04:03 EDT

CPAWS Unable To Convince Environment Minister Diana McQueen To Stop Castle Logging


Great hope turned to great disappointment for those trying to stop logging in the Castle region when a meeting with the provincial minister garnered no results on Thursday.

Those who oppose logging in what they refer to as an ecologically-sensitive area, had hoped they could persuade Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Diana McQueen to put a stop to the activity but were met only with disappointment, Sarah Elmeligi of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society told the Calgary Herald.

“We tried yet again to convince her to stop the logging in the Castle Special Place and protect the area as a wildland park,” Elmeligi told the Herald, of the area which is located just north of Waterton Lakes National Park and which CPAWS says is critically important to the already-threatened grizzly bear population .

“Overall, our meeting has been disappointing.”

Although the Castle was designated a protected area in 1998, the ecological health of the region has actually detirorated due to overuse and is now under extreme stress after the province green lit clear-cutting in the region, says CPAWS, adding that clear-cutting was never formally approved for the region.

“It did not adequately account for the health of Castle and Waterton River headwaters,” said Elmeligi.

“The integrated Resource Management Plan is the current approved plan; it has watershed protection at its highest priority, not clear-cut logging.”

Logging in the castle is opposed by environmental groups, local businesses and First Nations in the area.

McQueen told The Calgary Sun no deicision has been reached yet in relation to the matter but that forest management agreements have been made with Spray Lakes Sawmills in the area.

The minister told The Sun she will make sure she listens to all parties involved throughout the process but Elmeligi responded by saying, “this is the third meeting we’ve had with Ms. McQueen, who’s been very good at listening but we’re beyond listening — it’s time for action.”