3 April 2017

Honourable Shannon Phillips
208 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6

Re: An Open Letter to Minister Phillips on the Protection of the Castle Parks

Dear Minister Phillips

As scientists with expertise in biology, ecology, hydrology and climate change, we commend the
Government of Alberta for its commitment to science-based decision making in the management of
the new Castle Provincial and Wildland Parks.
As part of the Crown of the Continent, the Castle is an internationally important area. It supports
aquatic ecosystems including rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater systems as well as
upland areas that support our headwaters.
The Castle also provides critical wildlife corridors that allow the movement of large animals
between the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, British Columbia's Flathead Valley and
Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. The importance of these corridors will be amplified with the increased
pressure of climate change on our ecosystems, as some species are forced to migrate further north.
The area contains habitat for many of Alberta’s iconic species and species at risk including core
grizzly bear habitat, threatened cutthroat trout, and endangered species such as limber and
whitebark pine. Protection of this area also provides the opportunity to recover these species.
The Castle will continue to be important in the future as it is internationally recognized as an area of
critical importance for ensuring human and wildlife communities successfully adapt to the impacts
of climate change.
Along with the elimination of commercial forestry, mining and oil/gas development, the decision to
remove off-highway vehicle use from the Castle and restore damaged areas will contribute to the
conservation of native vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, soil and community water supplies. The
science is clear that motorized use, even under controlled circumstances has a negative impact on
these natural features.

Peer-reviewed literature indicates that motorized recreation has a number of key impacts on
 Removal of vegetation and compaction of soil increases runoff and soil erosion. Soil
compaction also decreases the ability of the area to support vegetation in the future.
 Increased erosion leads to increased sedimentation and turbidity in watercourses. This
impacts water quality and habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
 Habitat fragmentation can reduce the ability of plants and animals to move and disperse on
the landscape potentially leading to altered population dynamics and reduced potential for
 Motorized traffic and noise can cause wildlife to avoid areas, causing increased stress and
altered behaviors and changes to distribution or dispersal patterns. These changes can lead to
reduced survival which can negatively affect population size.
 Motorized access increases the permeability of back-country areas to humans, which
increases direct mortality to protected species such as grizzly bears.

In conclusion, given the strong evidence of the impacts of off-highway vehicles and the ecological
importance and sensitivity of the new Castle Wildland and Provincial Parks, we recommend the
government maintain the proposed phase-out of off-highway vehicles in the Castle to allow for
protection of this internationally important area.


Clayton Apps PhD, RPBio John Bain PhD
Aspen Wildlife Research Inc. Emeritus professor of Botany and Director
of the University of Lethbridge Herbarium
University of Lethbridge

Mark Boyce PhD Theresa Burg PhD
Professor Science, Biological Sciences Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
University of Alberta University of Lethbridge

James M Byrne PhD Lu Carbyn PhD
Professor, Department of Geography, Water Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta
and Environmental Science Building Retired Research Scientist, Canadian
University of Lethbridge Wildlife Service, Department of the
Environment (Federal).

Ralph Cartar PhD Scott X. Chang PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Biology Professor of Forest Soils and Nutrient
University of Calgary Dynamics
University of Alberta

Anthony P Clevenger PhD Peter H. Crown PhD
Research Wildlife Scientist, Western Professor Emeritus in Land Resource
Transportation Institute Science, Department of Renewable
Montana State University Resources
University of Alberta

Andrew E. Derocher PhD Jason T. Fisher PhD
Professor of Biological Sciences Past-President, Alberta Chapter – The
University of Alberta Wildlife Society; Adjunct Professor–
University of Victoria

Lorne Fitch P.Biol. Lawrence B. Flanagan PhD
Adjunct Professor Professor of Biology, Department of
University of Calgary Biological Sciences
University of Lethbridge
Cameron Goater PhD Kim C Green P.Geo., PhD
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Senior Watershed Geoscientist
University of Lethbridge Apex Geoscience Consultant Ltd

Andreas Hamann PhD F. Richard Hauer PhD
Department of Renewable Resources Professor and Director Center for Integrated
University of Alberta Research on the Environment
University of Montana

Mark Hebblewhite PhD Stephen Herrero PhD
Wildlife Biology Program Professor Emeritus
Associate Professor of Ungulate Ecology University of Calgary
Department of Ecosystem and Conservation
Sciences College of Forestry and Conservation
University of Montana

Dorothy Hill PhD Geoff Holroyd PhD
Associate Professor Department of Biology Research Scientist (retired)
Mount Royal University Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment
Canada, Edmonton

Chris Hopkinson PhD T. Andrew Hurly PhD
CAIP Research Chair in Terrestrial Ecosystem Professor Emeritus
Remote Sensing University of Lethbridge
Vice President IAHS International
Commission on Remote Sensing
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
University of Lethbridge

Patrick M. A. James PhD Hester Jiskoot PhD
Associate Professor Associate Professor of Physical Geography
Département de sciences biologiques and Glaciology
Université de Montréal University of Lethbridge

J. Derek Johnson MSc. Stefan Kienzle PhD
Retired Botanist, Canadian Forest Service, Professor and Chair, Department of
Natural Resources Canada Geography
University of Lethbridge

Robert Laird PhD Clayton Lamb
Associate Professor PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar
University of Lethbridge University of Alberta
Peter Lee MSc Matthew G. Letts PhD
Executive Director (retired) Department of Geography
Global Forest Watch Canada University of Lethbridge

Robert Longair PhD M Derek MacKenzie PhD
Dept. of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Pyrogenic Ecosystems
University of Calgary (retired) and Restoration Ecology (PERE) Lab,
Department of Renewable Resources
University of Alberta

Dave Mayhood MSc Mary Ann McLean PhD
Aquatic Ecologist Associate Professor, Biology
FWR Freshwater Research Limited St. Mary’s University

Greg McDermid PhD Jon Mee PhD
Associate Professor, Geography Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
University of Calgary Mount Royal University

Marco Musiani PhD Scott Nielson PhD
Dept. of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science; Associate Professor, Alberta Biodiversity
and Veterinary Medicine Conservation Chair, Department of
University of Calgary Renewable Resources
University of Alberta

John Pomeroy PhD Shane Porter PhD
Fellow AGU, FRGS Land Resources and Environmental
Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Science
Climate Change Lethbridge College
Director, Centre for Hydrology
Director, Canmore Coldwater Laboratory
Chair, International Network for Alpine
Research Catchment Hydrology

Greg Pyle PhD Michael Quinn PhD
CAIP Chair in Aquatic Health Associate Vice President, Research,
Professor of Biological Sciences Scholarship & Community Engagement
University of Lethbridge Mount Royal University

Melanie Rathburn PhD K. E. Ruckstuhl PhD
Department of Biology Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
Mount Royal University University of Calgary
D.W. Schindler PhD, OC, AOE, FRS, FRSC Fiona Schmiegelow PhD
Professor Emeritus Professor
University of Alberta University of Alberta

Richard Schneider PhD Elizabeth Schultz PhD
Department of Biological Sciences Associate Professor, Department of
University of Alberta Biological Sciences
University of Lethbridge

Dave Sheppard PhD John R. Spence PhD
Ecologist Professor of Renewable Resources
University of Alberta

David Sauchyn PhD Keith B. Tierney PhD
Senior Research Scientist, Prairie Adaptation Associate Professor & Associate Chair
Research Collaborative; Professor of Geography (Research) Department of Biological Sciences
University of Regina University of Alberta

Ross W. Wein PhD Cherie Westbrook PhD
Professor Emeritus Centre for Hydrology, Global Institute for
University of Alberta Water Security; Department of Geography
and Planning
University of Saskatchewan

Steve Wiseman PhD
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair
(II) in Aquatic and Mechanistic Toxicology,
Department of Biological Science
University of Lethbridge