History being made in Alberta as for 14th day, picket-line & outfitting camp keep clear-cutting out of protected area

BEAVER MINES: A rotating picket-line maintained by outdoor enthusiasts and near-by residents, and an outfitting camp set up by a second generation outfitter are making history in Alberta as for the 14th day now, they continue to hold back Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development Department (SRD) and a sawmill located outside the region from starting clear-cuting in Castle Special Management Area; a popular protected area in southwest Alberta.  Determined by a government hearing panel in 1993 to be an integral part of the health of the international Crown of the Continent ecosystem, the Castle Special Management Area was designated by the Government of Alberta as a Special Place protected area in 1998 for the "preservation of Alberta's natural heritage." It is the only one, so far of the 81 designated that is about to be clear-cut logged.

Just before noon yesterday (Tuesday, January 24th) three people maintained the picket-line in front of Spray Lake Sawmills equipment, which had started up to move forward into the protected area.  The nine trucks filled with SRD officials, RCMP, Spray Lake Sawmills staff and logging contractors that were present left en masse and never returned.

"We have to hold the line on this protected area, or else the others throughout Alberta are at risk too," says Peter Sherrington, a Beaver Mines resident.  "SRD went to do the same thing at the Whaleback years ago and that designated Special Place could be next again if they get away with clear-cutting the Castle."

This grass-roots defence of the protected area was also heartened yesterday by more than two dozen local and national businesses who held a press conference in Lethbridge.  The businesses, ranging from a national retailer to local tourism businesses, fishing guides and a Calgary area nursary specializing in native plants called on Alberta's Premier Alison Redford to upholded the government's designation of the Castle as a protected area under the government's Special Places 2000: Alberta’s Natural Heritage Policy. 

That decision specified that the Castle is to meet the goals of  “preservation, heritage appreciation, outdoor recreation, and tourism and economic development."  “Tourism and economic development” are defined by the policy 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.”

"Clear-cutting or what the industry calls block-cut logging obviously is not preservation of our natural heritage," sums up Gordon Petersen of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition.

For interviews contact (no cell phone reception at the camp in the Castle):