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Timberwolf Wilderness Society

Activities

The Castle River region has been the subject of sometimes bitter conservation battles for more than 100 years.  Recent actions by Alberta's NDP to create a park and wildland region in the Castle have initiated resolution to conflicts that arose due to its former multi-use designation.  Ongoing efforts are needed however, to ensure the area is not disturbed by motorized vehicle access and random camping. 

CASTLE REGION

      Environmental Issues

  • Rare and At-Risk Species

There are over 250 rare and at-risk species including grizzly bears and native westslope cutthroat trout, both listed as threatened under Alberta's Wildlife Act.  Both species continue to be threatened by habitat fragmentation as a result of multi-use activities in the region. 

  • Watershed Hydrology

The foothills and Rocky Mountains act as water storage and recharge sites for the headwaters of many east and northward flowing rivers including the Castle and the Carbondale rivers which feed into the Oldman and Crowsnest rivers.  These rivers and the groundwater flow that feeds them are subject to changes in the characteristics of surface runoff in the foothills and mountains.  Human impacts on the basins, including trail use, clear-cut logging and wildfires can significantly reduce the capacity of these basins to store water: an important consideration in light of the expected changes in the frequency of intense precipitation events that are expected from to global warming.  Soil erosion can limit the potential for the region to regenerate forest cover and restore wildlife habitat.  In order to safeguard the Eastern Slopes for the enjoyment and health of future generations of wildlife and humans, as well as plant life and all manner of interconnected relationships to soils, microorganisms and insects that support them,  these catchments need to be managed primarily for watershed protection. 

  • Forests

Forests are the living basis for the Castle ecosystem and need to be considered not just as renewable resources for human use (tree farms), but as integral components of the function of the Castle watershed for all manner of life forms along the Eastern Slopes.  Changes to the forest soils due to long-term deposition of atmospheric pollutants puts the soils and the future of the forests and their inhabitants at risk when clear-cut logging removes the overgrowth and exposes soils to erosion. Overgrowth as well as the diverse grasses and shrubs maintain a balance between organic and mineral materials within the soil structure that help the system to recover and restore native plants adapted to this environment.   

  • Wildlife

The Castle region is the site of dens as well as more than 500 known rub sites for threatened grizzly bears.  Logging takes place within critical winter habitat for ungulates during a period when the area is supposed to be closed to logging according to provincial government guidelines.  The Castle-Carbondale elk herd is one of the most robust and important in Alberta, yet is one that is under considerable pressure from habitat disturbance from logging roads and potentially the impacts of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use.  Elk seek habitat away from the influence of roads, to which they are surprisingly sensitive: OHV use as far away as a kilometer is known to cause a response in elk. Enforcement of limited or no motorized vehicle access to the area is a critical issue that requires concerted action.

Land Claim

Timberwolf Wilderness Society, a coalition acting in defense of wildlife and wilderness areas, initiated legal actions to protect the Castle Wilderness region.  Land claim proceedings were brought forward on behalf of rare and endangered plant and animal species living in the Castle region.

Mike Judd, a second-generation outfitter from Beaver Mines, Alberta, is a spokesperson for Timberwolf Wilderness Society. "As far as we know this is the first time in Canada anyone has filed a land claim on behalf of the resident wildlife.  Legal proceedings to date have failed to protect the Castle. Timberwolf is pursuing new and innovative legal strategies that will hold the Alberta Government accountable for the environmental devastation taking place in the Castle and require the Alberta Government to take action to protect the Castle."

Shaun Fluker, as Assistant Professor with the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, confirm the Alberta Government has an obligation to provide legal protection for the endangered and threatened species in the Castle and is not fulfilling this obligation. "Alberta is signatory to the 1996 National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk which obligates Alberta to establish legal protection for endangered and threatened species. The Wildlife Act (Alberta) provides no meaningful protection for endangered species in Alberta despite its legal status as an endangered species under the Wildlife Act is perhaps the clearest evidence foe this." Professor Fluker agrees that new legal strategies are needed to protect the Castle.

Dave Mayhood is an Aquatic Ecologist with Freshwater Research Limited: "Several of the very few remaining pure native Alberta cutthroat trout populations live in the Castle drainage.  These tiny but critical stocks are highly likely to go extinct if the land continues to be abused.  They must be protected if native cutthroats are to survive here. The Carbondale drainage in the Castle River Country has been almost denuded by decades of logging and wildfire. Its fish and wildlife are under severe threat from its dense network of roads. More logging and more roads in this basin are unconscionable."

Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Timberwolf Wilderness Society, in concert with Alberta Wilderness Association initiated brought attention to critical Westslope Cutthroat Trout habitat in the Castle Region and the need for appropriate management strategies in the Revised Castle Management Plan. Trout Critical Habitat

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Timberwolf Wilderness Society aims to help people to develop an appreciation and motivation to care for and protect wilderness regions along the eastern slopes in Alberta. We invite you to take part in our vision and activities that improve our appreciation for ecosystem functions that sustain us and wildlife around us.

Timberwolf Wilderness Society acts to protect and improve wild lands and wildlife habitat along the Eastern Slopes of Alberta, Canada, through legal, political and public action.