Picket-line counter posts site where locals & outfitter continue to hold back clear-cutting in Castle protected area
Castle Crown Wilderness, Sierra Club Jan. 26, 2012
Beaver Mines: Located on the way to Castle Mountain Resort in the Castle Special Management Area of southwest Alberta, locals, businesses and outdoor enthusiasts will be counter posting the site today with the Alberta Government's decision and map designating the area as a Special Place protected area. (Document attached or is on government webstite http://alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/199803/5992.html , except for the original map with the decision.) It's now 16 days and counting that a rotating picket-line maintained by outdoor enthusiasts and near-by residents, and an outfitting camp are holding back Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development Department (SRD) and a sawmill located outside the region (Spray Lake Sawmills west of Calgary in Cochrane) from starting to clear-cuting in the protected area.
Due to those on the picket-line and at the outfitting camp, no harm has yet been done to the protected area. Spray Lake Sawmills logging contractors fired up their equipment, but did NOT break the picket-line yesterday to begin bulldozing a logging road. About eight Sustainable Resource Development officials were on site yesterday, including the department's head of communications from Edmonton. Those at camp and on the picket-line were serves with an Enforcement Order by SRD yesterday. Spray Lake Sawmills has yet to go to court to try to get an injunction against those standing on line to uphold the Special Place protected area, which the government announced as being designated to "preserve Alberta's natural heritage."
A rally is again planned for this Sunday in support of those on the picket-line and the second generation outfitter who put up his outfitting camp at the site on January 9th. It will again be held at the entrance to the Castle Special Management Area at 2:00 pm and will walk to the edge of the site that the Alberta Goivernment has closed to the public, which is located along and actual over the road going to Castle Mountain Resort and extends south towards Scout Canada's Camp Impeesa and the Beaver Mines Lake Provincial Recreation Area within Sepcial Place protected area.
For interviews contact (no cel phone reception at the camp in the Castle):
Local & national businesses call on Alberta Premier to uphold preservation
Castle Crown Wilderness, Sierra Club Jan. 23, 2012
Alberta Government kicks public out of protected area so Spray Lake Sawmills can clear-cut log
Castle Crown Wilderness, Sierra Club Jan. 19, 2012
Beaver Mines: This afternoon, Alberta Government’s Sustainable Resource Development Department (SRD) issued a notice closing part of the popular, year-round recreation core of the Castle Special Management Area to public use. That includes closing it to a legal camp of a second-generation outfitter and a picket-line by local residents; the presence of which was holding back Spray Lake Sawmills from starting up its equipment to bulldoze new roads and clear-cut the protected area. The notice was issued under the new Public Land regulations passed last September as part of the Land Use Framework for regional planning in Alberta. Today it is being used as a tool to preempt regional planning and violate a designated Special Place protected area.
Those on site have contacted their lawyer.
At time of issuing this news release, only the media has received written information from government communications and those present at the camp. SRD for years has advertized the area as open to random camping http://www.srd.alberta.ca/RecreationPublicUse/RecreationOnPublicLand/ForestLandUseZones/CastleAreaFLUZ.aspx.
The Castle Special Management Area is located west of Pincher Creek, Alberta. It is still on the government website as a Special Place protected area (the 40th established, http://www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks/managing/establishing.asp#special), which the Alberta Cabinet designated in 1998 "for the preservation of Alberta's natural heritage" http://alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/199803/5992.html.
For interviews or more information:
News Release January 16, 2012
Resident’s picket-line and outfitters camp continue to hold off clear-cutting a popular protected area in southwest Alberta
Castle Crown Wilderness, Sierra Club
Beaver Mines: Situated on the way to Castle Mountain Resort, inside the Castle Special Management Area west of Pincher Creek, it’s now the sixth day and counting that a legal camp set up by a second-generation outfitter and a picket line by local residents, outdoor enthusiasts and conservation groups are holding off logging equipment from starting in the protected area. It was an upbeat and determined atmosphere through the weekend at the site as long-time ranching families stop by with hot chocolate and more new volunteers stopped in to help. Most driving to Castle Mountain Resort honked and waved support, and several stopped in for information. The picketers are calling on voters to phone and email Premier Alison Redford, as well as their own MLA, and to ask that the clear-cutting be kept out of this popular recreation area, which is located adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park and integral to the health of the international Crown of the Continent geotourism area.
Picketers and the outfitter will legally occupy the site until Spray Lake Sawmills of Cochrane leaves for one of the alternate areas approved for logging, which are not at issue with the public. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) senior communications person, Duncan MacDonnell checked out the camp on the weekend. At the site it is thought that any day now, SRD will issue an order under the new Public Lands Act regulations passed last September and thereby close the whole core of this protected area and popular recreation area to public use including the outfitter and picketers.
“Last chance for the majority who said they didn’t want logging in the Castle to phone as voters and say so,” says Peter Sherrington, one of several Beaver Mines residents on the picket line. “Even through during the leadership race, the Premier said this logging was an example of where the government hadn’t been listening, with a spring election call coming, it’s now obviously only about votes, rather than the merits of the issue.”
Independent surveys by a firm often used by SRD and by the Citizen Society Research Lab at the Lethbridge College found that “an overwhelming majority” opposed clear-cut logging in the Castle. That was also the case irrespective of which party they said they were likely to vote for.
“Last Wednesday we asked, ‘why log such small trees so far from the mill, when there’s ample approved timber for logging at half the distance and not at issue with the public?”, says Gordon Petersen, a Beaver Mines resident and president of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition. “But, now we know it’s the woodchip division of the company, called Top Spray, that makes the profit, and clear-cutting these smaller trees makes the most woodchips per dollar spent logging. So, southern Albertan’s wildlife habitat and recreation area is mostly going to wind up as woodchips sprayed along new road ditches, used in commercial landscaping or shipped off to Super Natural BC for paper.”
Cabinet has not revoked the policy under which the Castle was designated as a protected area. That Special Places 2000 policy specifies that the Castle Special Management Area and the other 80 Special Place protected areas scattered throughout Alberta are to meet the goals of preservation, outdoor recreation, heritage appreciation and tourism development defined as “areas capable of supporting tourism infrastructure and sustaining long-term economic viability of adventure travel and ecotourism, including extended tours in unspoiled natural landscapes.”
But despite that policy, and without public consultation, SRD issued a logging license that covers the year-round recreation core of the Caste, where there are four Provincial Recreation Areas with their campgrounds and Scout Canada’s Camp Impeesa. In that recreation core, half of the mature forest is on SRD’s and Spray Lake Sawmills map to be clear-cut over the next three winters. They estimate that to be 4,737 truckloads of logs, as per the SRD approved plan.
For more interviews contact (no cel phone reception at the camp in the Castle):
Media Release by Stop Castle Logging Castle Crown-Wilderness Coalition & Sierra Club Canada
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.