Replace spin with conservation action in international Crown of Continent say conservation groups

Pincher Creek & Calgary: Sierra Club Canada and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition are maintaining that while it is important to have the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development’s Parliamentary Assistant, Evan Berger, representing the government today at the international Crown of the Continent Round Table in Polson, Montana, the province needs to replace its spin with actual conservation action, instead of the actions thwarting conservation in Alberta’s portion of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. 

“We’re calling on Alberta’s new premier come October 1st to expand the agreement signed by Premier Stelmach with Governor Schweitzer of Montana to include cooperation to achieve grizzly bear recovery on both sides of the border,” says Dianne Pachal, Sierra Club Canada.  “And we’re asking the Premier to establish an Alberta Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee with the mandate to recover grizzly bears and their habitat; something the US side has had for 25 years.” 

“Coupled with that, we’re again calling on the SRD Minister and Evan Berger to revoke the clear-cut logging license they issued in the Castle Special Place and to instead support the new Premier in finally backing up the Castle’s protected area designation with legislation,” says Gordon Petersen, President of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition. “The legislation afforded the other 80 Special Places the government designated needs to be here in the Crown too.”

Alberta’s portion of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem spans the Eastern Slopes and foothills from south of Kananaskis Country through to Montana, where there is more than triple the land area protected by law in parks and wilderness areas than on the Canadian side of the ecosystem. Alberta’s Natural Resources Conservation Board as early as 1993 concluded that legislated protection for the Castle was needed to sustain the health of the international ecosystem.  It is the province that is responsible for legislating protected areas and grizzly bear recovery.  The federal government is limited to recovery actions inside national parks only.  Grizzlies are listed as a threatened species in Alberta.

Located next to Waterton Lakes National Park, which it was once a part of, the Castle is Alberta’s largest designated protected area in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem.  But, without that protection in law, the SRD Minister, Mel Knight gave a sawmill from outside the region a logging license inside the Castle and then expanded that license this year; pre-empting the outcome of regional land-use planning and raising the ire of local businesses, residents and conservation groups alike.  The license is part of the Minister’s 2010 decision to increase clear-cut logging in Alberta’s portion of the Crown ecosystem by 26% throughout the next 20 years.  That despite the public indicating in the land-use planning that they want clear-cutting phased out, and see tourism and recreation as more important for future economic growth.

Although mapped by Alberta as a Grizzly Bear Core Conservation Area, research by Global Forest Watch Canada found that the 1041 square kilometer Castle is no longer secure habitat for grizzly bears due to the density of motorized access routes allowed to continue there by SRD; let alone adding logging and its roads on top of that.  Grizzly bear deaths in the entire Alberta management unit that the Castle and Waterton Lakes National Park are part of exceed what is sustainable; continuing the Castle’s reputation as a mortality sink for Crown of the Continent grizzly bears.

For more information:

Map: Crown of the Continent