Castle’s expanded protection hailed by conservationists
After a 40-year-long struggle between advocacy groups and the government, the Alberta Government has announced that it will expand protection in the Castle wilderness area along the B.C. – Alberta border.
Just north of Waterton National Park, the protected area will conserve roughly 1,020 km2 of one of the most biologically rich and diverse landscapes in the country. Along with providing critical habitat for grizzly bears, wolverine and west-slope cutthroat trout, the area also acts as a water tower for Southern Alberta.
This landmark and long-awaited decision shows Alberta’s commitment to environmental leadership and further demonstrates the need for British Columbia to protect their own portion of this region, the Crown of the Continent, Wildsight stated in a Sept. 4 press release.
With a large swath of protected areas to the south in Montana, including Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and Alberta’s Waterton National Park and newly expanded protected area in the Castle to the east, conservationists are calling for British Columbia to commit to joining their neighbours in environmental leadership by permanently protecting the B.C. portion of North America’s premier wildlife corridor.
“We applaud the Alberta government for giving the Castle the protection it deserves,” said John Bergenske, Conservation Director for Wildsight. “We’d like to see the B.C. government follow their lead by stepping up their commitment to the environment and creating a national park in the southeast one third of the Flathead River Valley and a Wildlife Management Area in the adjoining habitat.”
The Flathead River Valley, located in southeast British Columbia, has been called the “missing piece” of Waterton-Glacier International Park, and is unmatched in North America for its variety and density of carnivore species, including grizzly bears.
Wildsight, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, Sierra Club BC and CPAWS BC are working to protect the Flathead permanently with a National Park in the southeastern one-third and a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat.
Lead image: Haig Pass in the Castle wilderness. By Harvey Locke