Hundreds on ATV, snowmobiles, jeeps protest off-road vehicle ban in Castle area

  • Mar. 13, 2017 12:20 a.m.

BLAIRMORE, Alta. — Hundreds of people on ATVs, snowmobiles, trucks and jeeps rode along the main street of a southwestern Alberta town to protest a government plan to ban off-highway vehicles in two new parks.

Melissa Harsch organized Saturday’s rally in Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass.

She says they want to get the Alberta government to allow off-vehicle vehicles in the Castle wilderness area.

The province announced at the end of January that it will close all trails for off-highway vehicles within five years in the two newly named parks in the Castle wilderness area.

The Castle region has been mined, logged and drilled, but is also home to more than 200 species of endangered plants and animals and considered a key link for grizzlies moving north and south.

The government says previous governments allowed uncontrolled trails to proliferate and conflicts then arose between riders, environmentalists, municipalities, ranchers, fishing guides and First Nations.

“We would like to see give and take,” Harsch said. “Like, obviously there’s going to be limitations. We want to speak to the government about that. We want to work with them to see if, you know, off-highway vehicles, or random camping can still be allowed in the Castle. That’s kind of our goal at this point.”

A sign at the rally said: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

A group of riders in the area say up to 1,000 off-highway riders and random campers use the Castle on a summer long weekend.

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