1. What is a management plan?
A management plan is a document which sets out objectives and strategies for conservation, development, interpretation and operations of a park for a 10-year period.
A management plan relies on current information about natural values, cultural values, recreational opportunities, and resource activities.
Define how a site will be managed to maintain ecological health and preserve key natural and cultural values
Describe the type and extent of outdoor recreation opportunities, facilities and services that will be permitted
Identify issues, concerns and conflicts, and recommends solutions
Identify boundary amendments, consolidations and reclassifications if required
Recommend effective and efficient allocation and prioritization of fiscal and staff resources
For more information on management planning, please visit:Management Planning
2. Where is the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park and why are these parks important?
The Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park are located in the eastern slopes of southern Alberta. These parks border Waterton Lakes National Park and are located within the Crown of the Continent (the area of the Rocky Mountains where Alberta, British Columbia and Montana meet).
This area is an important source to the Oldman River Basin headwaters and is a key area for water protection. It is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Alberta and home to a range of rare or at-risk species. These include species like:
westslope cutthroat trout
3. What is the difference between a Wildland Provincial Park and a Provincial Park?
Wildland Provincial Park
A wildland provincial park has the primary purpose of conserving nature while providing opportunities for low-impact nature based outdoor recreation in backcountry or wilderness settings. Wildland provincial parks are relatively undisturbed areas that protect large, ecologically healthy and functioning landscapes.
Visitor experiences focus on backcountry/wilderness travel and appreciation and provide opportunities for solitude and personal challenge. Facilities and services are limited to trails and backcountry camping areas that minimize visitor impacts on the wilderness values.
The expanded wildland provincial park protects important headwaters, wildlife corridors and habitat, while providing backcountry recreation opportunities.
Provincial parks have a primary purpose of conserving nature while offering a wide range of nature-based outdoor recreation opportunities. They typically provide for automobile access and opportunities for recreation and tourism facilities and services, including interpretative information that supports conservation.
Visitor experiences focus on inspiring visitors to connect with nature through leisure, learning or recreation activities that are often supported by built facilities.Provincial parks are typically large enough to maintain ecological functions, while providing for a range of outdoor recreation opportunities.
4. What is the management vision for Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park? And what are the key objectives of the draft management plan?
The Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park are managed as world-class protected places, employing high standards in conservation, respecting Indigenous rights, and providing sites and facilities for exceptional recreational experiences.
This management vision will be achieved through the development and use of:
Thresholds to inform type and volume human activities.
Measurable and achievable goals.
Evidence-based decision making.
First Nations traditional land use and ecological knowledge.
Collaborative approaches to problem solving.
5. What is the management intent for the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park?
The primary purposes of the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park are to ensure the conservation of nature, the respect of Indigenous rights, and the provision of recreational and tourism experiences.
All management decisions will be consistent with the protection of:
ecological integrity and connectivity.
6. What are the key outcomes of the plan?
The key outcomes of the plan include:
Identification of the appropriate uses and activities in both the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park that are consistent with the conservation values.
Prioritization of areas that require reclamation and restoration as a result of past practices and activities in Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park.
Clarity around recreational activities such as off-highway vehicle use, camping and recreational hunting.
Prioritization of additional strategies and actions required to achieve the management objectives identified in the plan.
7. How was the draft management plan developed?
The management planning process was led by the Parks Division of Alberta Environment and Parks. During plan development, the department worked closely with First Nations and key stakeholders to identify information and issues. Over 45 meetings were held between July 1st and November 30th with interested First Nations, stakeholders, ecology and land-uses working groups and municipalities. Recommendations and advice were considered in the development of the draft plan.
Since the draft plan was released on January 20, 2017, the Government of Alberta have heard from thousands of Albertans about the importance of the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park. Valuable feedback has been received, as such, Alberta Parks has developed a revised draft Management Plan to address some of the concerns and suggestions that have been shared. Collaboration with First Nations and stakeholders will continue through the review of the draft plan and the implementation of the strategies identified in the final plan.
8. How would the new management plan change activities on the land base?
All activities and land uses in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park must be consistent with the Alberta Parks legislation and regulation as well as the direction that has been set out in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. The Plan for Parks also provides strategic policy direction regarding management with the protected areas system.
The following activities and land uses that were previously allowed on public lands will be modified and/or eliminated:
Grazing management practices will be reviewed to align them with the conservation values identified in the plan including the protection of headwaters and critical habitat and providing high quality recreational experiences. Alberta ranchers will see grazing permits managed by rangelands staff. The province will continue to work with permit holders on a formalized agreement.
To facilitate this, mechanisms to eliminate or minimize cattle impact in the alpine areas, critical fish habitat and riparian areas will be a priority. Additionally, grazing will continue to be used to create a desired mosaic of forest and grassland ecosystems in Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park that is consistent with meeting the needs of wildlife as well as the overall health of the native grasslands.
Hunting seasons and allocations within the Wildland Provincial Park will continue to follow the existing Alberta Government regulatory processes. Off highway vehicle use, such as quads, may be permitted for the retrieval of game in a small network of access trails specifically designated for those purposes.
Hunting in the Provincial Park will be implemented in a two phased approach that will allow for recreational hunting while ensuring that it is primarily utilized for the purpose of managing wildlife populations.
Additional regulatory restrictions such as fire arm discharge permits will be used in the short-term to manage hunting within Castle Provincial Park.
Camping opportunities will be aligned to be consistent with the Alberta Parks’ legislation and regulations. As a result motorized random camping will not be permitted and this type of experience will be limited to designated rustic group camps.
Existing formalized automobile accessible campgrounds will continue to be supported and may be upgraded to include additional services such as power and water.
Summer recreational off-highway vehicle use is not scientifically supportable in the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park due to the extremely high biodiversity values, the necessity to protect the headwaters of the Oldman watershed, critical fish habitat for species at risk, and the high conservation values.
Transition recreational OHV use out of the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park over a 3 to 5-year period.The transition strategy will allow OHVuse to be restricted to designated trails (effective immediately) and the reclamation of previously unauthorized random trails throughout the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park will begin.
During the third, fourth or fifth year of the transition period, OHV use will be discontinued on all remaining trails within Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park.
9. When and what facilities will be developed to support recreational use?
Facilities, including trails, that are compatible with the primary conservation outcomes intended for the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park will be developed.
Available data, local and traditional knowledge, and environmental considerations will be used to guide discussions about facilities and trails with First Nations and stakeholders. The completed management plan and subsequent strategies will direct the types of facilities and trails, including their location and density.
Prior to construction of any facilities, additional processes such as Environmental Reviews, Historic Resources Impact Assessments, First Nations and public consultation may be required.
The Wildland Provincial Park classification does not allow for significant facility and service development, and will provide for low-impact, nature-based recreation. Trail development and small, rustic backcountry camping facilities or huts may be considered.
The Provincial Park will allow for a wider range of facilities and services, including the potential for picnic areas, staging areas, a higher density trail network, and auto-accessible campgrounds.
10. How can I comment on this draft management plan?
Public input is encouraged and important. Send in your comments, suggestions and concerns by clicking on the online survey link below, or by emailing or mailing in your feedback to the appropriate address outlined below. You may also email or mail in a copy of the draft management plan, with your edits and comments clearly marked.
Feedback on the draft management plan has been extended until 11:59 p.m. on April 19th, 2017.
Online: Castle Survey
By Email: ABParks.PlanComments@gov.ab.ca
Attn: Senior Parks Planner
Alberta Environment and Parks
Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park Draft Management Plan
4th fl Administration Building
909 - 3 Avenue North
Lethbridge, AB T1H 0H5
Public Information Sessions:
- March 10, 2017 – Pincher Creek
- March 11, 2017 – MD of Ranchlands
- March 17, 2017 – Blairmore
View details for these Public Information Sessions at:
These are ‘come-and-go’ sessions, with information provided in poster board format. Staff from Environment and Parks will be available at the meeting to answer questions and gather comments. More sessions will be announced in coming days.
11. What happens after the consultation period ends?
Once the 90-day comment period is complete, all comments will be carefully reviewed and considered. The draft management plan will be revised as necessary to reflect public feedback and then released internally for interdepartmental reviews and approvals.
Once approved, the final Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park Management Plan will be posted on the Alberta Parks Public Consultations page along with a report summarizing all feedback received during the 90-day comment period.
The summary report will be built around themes in the feedback and the actions taken within the management plan to address the feedback.
12. Who can I contact for further information on this plan?
If you would like further information about the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park, contact:
- By Telephone: 403 388-4034
- By Email: ABparks.PlanComments@gov.ab.ca