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

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.

Southwestern Alberta region home to 200 species of endangered plants and animals

The provincial government's plan to ban off-road vehicles in two new parks in the Castle area has sparked opposition. (CBC)

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.