Local land trusts conserve Edmonton-area old-growth forest
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), and the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) are celebrating the conservation of some of the last unspoiled forest in the Capital Region. The two groups have acquired Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area with the help of a two-year-long community effort.
Bunchberry Meadows is 260 hectares (640 acres), located just 30 kilometres from downtown Edmonton and approximately two kilometres from the North Saskatchewan River. Here you will find old-growth forest — rare for central Alberta.
The forest supports jack pines, some as large as two metres around. This is habitat for northern flying squirrels, porcupines and long-tailed weasels. The water and willows shelter a variety of species, as small as tiger salamanders and as large as moose.
The conservation of Bunchberry Meadows is only possible because five local families who owned the land have cared for it for more than 40 years.
Over those years they kept Bunchberry Meadows intact while the surrounding lands and the city of Edmonton underwent significant development. The property is now surrounded by acreages, airports, roadways, bridges and industrial habitat, which makes it increasingly difficult to find relatively untouched wild spaces where families and children may connect to nature.
Family members chose to donate a portion of this project to NCC under the Government of Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program, which protects ecologically sensitive land while offering significant tax benefits. Thanks to their generosity the natural values of the area will be conserved for generations to come.
NCC and EALT recognize the importance of Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area to the local community. Additional funds have been raised for long-term stewardship of the property. Eight kilometres of trails already run through the conservation area. Access to these trails will be temporarily closed to the public. However, in the future both NCC and EALT have a vision for trail improvements and signage so that visitors, including families and school groups, will be able to enjoy the site via foot access, year-round.
Further details regarding public access on the property will come at a later date.
Gifts for Nature
This conservation project was made possible thanks to the contributions of many individuals and organizations. They include the five families, the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, EALT, the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Land Trust Grant Program, John and Barbara Poole Family Funds, Parkland County, Carol and Rae Allen and Family, and Johanna and Otto Holzapfel, among many other individuals and businesses.
As you can see, it takes many hands to complete a conservation project of this magnitude. Today, we are celebrating the major supporters in Bunchberry Meadows: the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Edmonton Area Land Trust, the Poole family, Parkland County, the Allen Family and the Holzapfel family. Bunchberry will become a profile conservation property for NCC in Alberta, and we are very proud of what we have accomplished and the partners that have helped make that vision a reality.
-Bob Demulder, Regional Vice-President of the Nature Conservancy of Canada
The Edmonton and Area Land Trust is delighted to have been instrumental in helping secure this tremendously valuable section of land adjacent to Edmonton. Not only is it is environmentally significant in its own right, but it has huge landscape connectivity values. EALT is proud to partner with NCC as part owner of this project while contributing to the stewarding of this resource for the benefit of the region in perpetuity.
-Pam Wright, Executive Director of the Edmonton and Area Land Trust
I want to congratulate the Nature Conservancy of Canada and thank the many donors for making the creation of this new conservation area possible. The Government of Canada is proud to support this initiative through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and the Ecological Gifts Program. Together we are working to protect this important wildlife habitat for generations to come.
-Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
It's exciting to see an oasis of old-growth forest protected in the Edmonton area. Bunchberry Meadows will be a destination for Alberta families for generations to come, thanks to these families and the joint efforts of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Edmonton Area Land Trust and other partners. Collaboration and creativity are crucial for the protection of our wild spaces.
-Shannon Phillips, Minister for Alberta Environment and Parks
Our families are very pleased that this project has reached a successful conclusion. Preserving natural landscapes is essential for the health of this planet and all that inhabit it. We are very confident to be passing on the care of this special and much-loved piece of land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and look forward to a seeing the land thrive under their care. It is increasingly important in these busy and technology-filled times for people of all ages to be able to unplug, slow down and experience the natural world in ways that foster a sense of interconnectedness with it. Bunchberry Conservation Area will soothe, encourage and inspire all those who spend time with it.
-The Parkland Syndicate Ownership Families
I am excited about Nature Conservancy's acquisition of one of Parkland County’s most beautiful natural areas. The future looks especially bright with Parkland County’s Devonian Trail system, which will run adjacent to the Bunchberry Meadows project. This untouched wild space is being given the opportunity to continue to flourish while residents and visitors to the Capital Region enjoy the amenities surrounding it.
-Rod Shaigec, Mayor of Parkland County.
• Bunchberry Meadows has some of the oldest jack pine in Alberta, which provide important habitat for species, such as great horned owl. The land is home to moose, white-tailed deer, woodchuck and a number of birds and amphibians.
• The property also connects along the forested North Saskatchewan River valley that runs from the Rocky Mountains into the Central Parkland. It ensures a corridor for mid-sized mammals, such as marten and fisher, as well as the occasional black bear and cougar.
• Bunchberry Meadows is located in close proximity to other conservation sites, the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, Woodbend Natural Area, Tucker’s Field Park, Prospector’s Point Park and several Provincial Natural Areas.
• Parkland County’s Devonian trail system runs adjacent to the Bunchberry Meadows project, and there are plans to connect the two trail systems in the future.
• To learn more about the Ecological Gifts Program, please visit http://www.ec.gc.ca/pde-egp/.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, protecting vital natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. In Alberta, we have conserved more than 11,300 hectares (280,000 acres) of this province’s most ecologically significant land and water.
The Edmonton and Area Land Trust is the Edmonton Region’s nature conservancy, having secured over 809 hectares (2,000 acres) of land in an around the city of Edmonton. EALT is part owner of Bunchberry Meadows with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. To date, $277.5 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada, with more than $500 million in matching contributions raised by NCC and its partners.
The Government of Alberta created the Alberta Land Trust Grant program in 2011 — a program designed to support land trusts such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in the purchase of conservation easements on ecologically significant landscapes and donations of land with high conservation value.
For high quality images and video B-roll of the property, a link is provided below. (Captions and credits included in filenames.)
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