One volunteer's view of Wideview
During a lunch break at a Conservation Volunteers event at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) recently acquired Wideview property, I asked another volunteer, Peter Tucker, what attracted him to the event. Peter told me he had been thinking about getting back into the outdoors for a long time, having spent a lot of time outside as a kid, and later working as a tree planter in British Columbia for several seasons.
“Two days ago I heard about this [Conservation Volunteers event] on CBC radio, so I drove down from Moose Jaw this morning,” said Peter. “I was attracted by the volunteer aspect, and by my interest in land conservation.”
In late June, eight volunteers and four NCC staff conducted a bioblitz, surveying species on a portion of the Wideview complex, a rugged landscape in southwestern Saskatchewan within the Milk River Basin Natural Area. It lies between two provincial community pastures and is just north of the West Block of Grasslands National Park. This places Wideview adjacent to approximately 3,700 acres (1,497 hectares) of Wildlife Habitat Protection Land. Wideview consists of approximately 320 acres (129 hectares) of native-dominant grassland and shrubland, 84 acres (34 hectares) of tame forage and 70 acres (28 hectares) of hydro-riparian areas.
During the bioblitz, Peter and I spent some time together walking a portion of the property, gathering information about the plant and animal species found there, which will help NCC manage the property in the future. As it turned out, we two citizen scientists are pretty much tenderfeet when it comes to identifying species, although Peter made some impressive field drawings of the “interesting stuff” we found. (In his late teens, Peter studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design.)
“I’ve driven around Saskatchewan, exploring the province, but it’s hard to know where the best place to look without a specific focus is,” Peter said. “Getting out to see Wideview has been a good experience; it’s even better to experience a Conservation Volunteers event and meet other people who share the same concerns as I do.”
All in all, Peter and I learned a lot about the species that live on Wideview, and discussed what ultimately brought us both to the event in the first place: a passion for conservation.