Bunchberry Meadows opens at last
NCC staff Katelyn Ceh, Bob Demulder, and Keltie Manolakas at Bunchberry Meadows opening (Photo by NCC)
The conservation of Bunchberry Meadows has been a multi-year community effort; in 2015 the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) launched the campaign to conserve this special natural area located just outside of the city of Edmonton. Over the course of two years, many new donors and partners, including the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) stepped up to help us raise the funds needed to purchase this 640-acre (260-hectare) property.
The local land conservation organizations had big plans for this piece of the natural world. While the surrounding lands continued to be developed over the decades, Bunchberry Meadows remained mainly intact. Because of its proximity to the city of Edmonton, located just 30 minutes from downtown, NCC’s vision for the project was to enhance the existing trail network and add amenities to make the property safe and accessible for urban audiences looking to connect with nature.
On Saturday, October 28, this vision became a reality when Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area was opened to the public for the first time. The conservation of the property was officially announced in May, but the property was closed to the public ever since while infrastructure improvements took place. The existing eight kilometres of trails were cleared of deadfall and uneven terrain, and a parking lot, washrooms and picnic area were added to the entrance of the property.
At the same time, NCC’s biologists, foresters and science staff were busy documenting all the plants and animals on the lands. The old-growth forests, open meadows and wetlands are home to many species, including porcupine, long-tailed weasel, tiger salamander and moose.
Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area entrance sign
The morning of October 28, NCC and EALT staff were on site to greet the 80 visitors who were eager to begin exploring the trails. Some of the visitors were existing donors or neighbours, and many were members of the public who had never visited an NCC site before. Graced with good weather and warm temperatures, it was the perfect day for Edmontonians to hit the trails for a day of exploration and adventure.
From now on, Bunchberry Meadows will remain open for foot access only. Due to sensitive natural habitat and the abundance of wild species, dogs, horses and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails. For now, the public is invited to hike the trails and once the snow accumulates, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing will also be welcome.
For more information on site ethics and how to visit the property, visit bunchberrymeadows.ca.
To learn more about the history of the property and the campaign to conserve Bunchberry Meadows, click here.