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Province lays out plan to improve visitor experience in Castle Provincial Park
The province says the Castle Parks area is a key wildlife corridor and is home to over 200 rare or at-risk species.
CTV Calgary Staff
Published Friday, May 18, 2018 3:07PM MDT
The province has released a management plan for Castle Provincial Park and will invest $3 million to make improvements to the area southwest of Pincher Creek.
The upgrades include new camping options and comfort cabins at Beaver Mines Lake.
“This year we are investing $3 million in the Castle area. Visitors can start their adventure informed as there’s now a new visitors’ centre with information services like kiosks, staging areas at trail heads and new visitor publications and maps,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks. “Lynx Creek boasts a dozen new, family-friendly campsites. There are rustic camping zones ready to enjoy with space expanding to 150 units that will be distributed throughout the parks. If that’s too rustic for you, there are five new comfort cabins at Beaver Mines Lake.”
“From unique destinations and one-of-a kind experiences, tourism continues to play a pivotal role in our province’s economy as Alberta’s reputation as a tourism destination grows and we’re seeing the results. Alberta’s visitor economy is valued at 8.5 billion annually and growing. The tourism industry provides a number of business and job opportunities across a variety of sectors that create this growth and the Castle region is a vital contributor to Alberta’s visitor economy,” said Royce Chwin, president and CEO, Travel Alberta
Improvements to signage on primary highways and better access to the backcountry are also included in the plan.
The province will phase out the use of OHVs in the area over the next three years and the minister says protecting wildlife and headwaters are a priority.
“Right now, from this year it will be 137 kilometres of trails available for people and next year will be 37 kilometres of trail and then the year after that there will be a loop allowed within the park that allows to access about 70 kilometes of trail outside in the public lands so there is still a little bit allowed within the park in order to make that loop most enjoyable and most accessible,” said Phillips. “The announcement was made a year and a half ago that this was coming and the reasons for it. Since then we have discussed this at length with the public and the public supports us taking action on recovering our native trout species, insuring that we have headwaters protection and science supports it as well. We had over 1000 stream crossings in this area identified, I believe it was1600, and 35 bridges so we wonder why then we have sedimentation and other issues related to our native trout and Westslope Cutthrout in some areas are down to five percent of the population they used to be.”
Snowmobiles will be allowed to continue using the trails in the area in the winter.
“It became clear that the environmental effects of snowmobiling are quite distinct from the summer motorized activities and the snowmobiles association came to us with a number of very thoughtful and productive proposals and we considered them carefully and it was determined that that activity is compatible with ecological and conservation objectives in the area,” said Phillips.
To view the Castle Management Plan, click HERE