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March 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 10
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OHV rally for Castle protest planned in Blairmore
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock photo
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
A community rally is planned for March 11 in Blairmore to protest the provincial government’s proposal to ban off-highway vehicles (OHV) in the newly established Castle Provincial Parks.

The rally will begin at 11 a.m. at the Greenhill Hotel parking lot in Blairmore, travel west down 20 Avenue, turn around just before the parking lot at the Crowsnest Mall, and return to the Greenhill for a show-and-shine. Participants can ride their side-by-sides, quads, dirt bikes, trucks, jeeps, camper and snowmobiles. A pace vehicle will head the convoy to prevent excessive speed and all motorists will be required to wear a helmet while their vehicles are running. Everyone is welcome to march along with the convoy, and are encouraged to wear hunting, fishing and riding gear.

“The purpose is a protest showing that there are a lot of people affected and there’s a lot of people not being heard,” says Melissa Harsch, who organized the rally with her friend, Chris Ephrom, an avid OHV user, hunter and fisher out of Lethbridge. “My concerns are the phasing out of how we enjoy recreating in the Castle.”
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The provincial government released a statement on March 1 indicating that they have amended the Castle draft management plan to allow OHV use on legal trails in the area for the following year, but Harsch says it’s still not the result they want to see.

“It’s a small victory at this point because we still get a year to use off-highway vehicles, but it’s still not good enough, in our minds,” she says. “A year is not long for us to be using it freely as we have been. It wasn’t mentioned whether OHVs are still going to be around three to five years from now, so I’m concerned that OHVs are still going to be completely phased out.”

The rally has the support of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, Hillcrest Fish and Game Protective Association, Crow Snow Riders and the Lethbridge Jeep Club.

Harsh says she has received an overwhelming amount of response to the rally, with people confirming their attendance as far away as Edmonton and parts of British Columbia. She says they are expecting over 1,000 people to attend.
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“This is getting pretty big, bigger than we ever expected,” says Harsch. “I hope we can all come together in a peaceful protest to show what we like to do in the Pass and Castle area.”

All rally participants, including minors, must sign waivers prior to the rally kick-off, while motorists must also provide their registration and insurance. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. at the Greenhill at 12326 20 Ave., and Harsh advises that participants show up no later than 10:30 a.m. to ensure a timely registration process.

Harsch appeared in from of Crowsnest Pass council on Feb. 28 to request a road closure for the duration of the rally’s trajectory, a request that council passed unanimously. Council also amended the OHV bylaw for the day to use the road.
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March 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 10
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