Coyote Lake: A conservation destination
The Hopkins property is located within an hour of the city of Edmonton, Alberta, but it doesn’t feel like it once you arrive at this beautiful place.
The property consists of two quarter-sections along the north edge of shallow Coyote Lake. The lake is located in a transition zone between the dry mixed-wood boreal forest and the central parkland sub-regions, making it an area known for its biodiversity. The previous landowners, Doris and Eric Hopkins, donated the 320-acre (130-hectare) property to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in the 1990s, after living on and stewarding the property for decades. It is because of Eric and Doris that this area and all the species it sustains are protected, and that people like me get to work in beautiful landscapes like the Hopkins property.
The first time I visited the property was in 2013, and I immediately loved it. The view of the lake, the serenity and the diverse plant and bird life make this a great place to visit. Several waterfowl species nest on the lake, and others stopover for a break during migration. While you sit in the gazebo, you can listen to the songs of some of the 80 bird species reported to nest in the area. It is easy to see why the Hopkins family and the property’s long-time stewards are so dedicated to the protection of this place.
The property is mostly forested with hiking trails created by the Hopkins family, which wind throughout the two quarters. While Eric and Doris lived there, they allowed the public to visit the site and educated visitors about why conservation is so important. The trails are still maintained by a steward and NCC Conservation Volunteers so that visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk through the forest and gain an appreciation for the property's diversity.
Visitors are welcome to participate in low-impact activities, including hiking, birdwatching, photography and picnicking in the gazebo or at the tables overlooking the lake. Access to the lake is not permitted in order to preserve nesting habitat for waterfowl.
Eric and Doris’ strong connection to nature inspired them to gift NCC 320 acres (130 hectares) of land, which are now a means for others to build their own connection to nature and inspire future conservation. The story of Eric and Doris is one of my favourites because, to me, it demonstrates that small acts of conservation can have a big impact. It is only one example of how the impact of a love for nature fits into the bigger conservation picture.
Coyote Lake is one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s properties featured in Nature Destinations, a program that invites you to take a journey through some of the greatest examples of our country’s natural areas and to connect with nature. Visit naturedestinations.ca.