Broaden your view of nature

Enjoying the view at NCC's exhibit on Wideview at the Art Gallery of Regina. (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Enjoying the view at NCC's exhibit on Wideview at the Art Gallery of Regina. (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

April 20, 2017 | by Bill Armstrong

Put your hand up if you would like to experience plains bison grazing their way around your living room walls. Sure, as long as they don’t make a mess on the carpet, you might say. Well, recently Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) offered this immersive, yet stain-free, experience for three days at the Art Gallery of Regina.

Titled Escape into Nature, the exhibition coincided with the announcement of a new NCC property, the Wideview Complex, located in the Milk River Basin in southwestern Saskatchewan. NCC’s new acquisition will help conserve a large portion of threatened grasslands habitat that is crucial for endangered species such as burrowing owl and greater sage-grouse.

People might think of southern Saskatchewan as a largely untouched landscape, whereas in fact over the past 150 years, about 80 per cent of native prairie in southern Saskatchewan has been converted to cultivated land or other developments. The 3,021 acres (1,222 hectares) of the Wideview Complex contains more of this picturesque and often rugged ecosystem for future generations.

Skull display at the exhibit. (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Skull display at the exhibit. (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Besides the bison grazing on the video wall, the exhibit also provided information on many endangered, threatened or at-risk species found in Saskatchewan. There were games and activities for younger visitors, of which there were many, according to news reports I saw on local media.

There were also virtual reality goggles that promised a more immersive experience, but all this techno-bumbler saw was a dark sky on a moonless, starless night.

It was quiet when I visited the exhibit, although many school-aged children had visited the gallery earlier that day. Viewing the video and the other information was for me like putting on a pair of comfortable old hiking boots, since I look forward to renewing my connection with this alluring landscape every spring, summer and fall.

Escape into Nature represents a significant educational outreach by NCC that I hope helps inform urban dwellers about what lies just beyond their doorstep. Those of us who live in southern Saskatchewan are blessed to have incredibly rugged and awe-inspiring lands just a few hours’ drive from home, bracketed, of course, by those stunning sunrises and sunsets.

As for me, I’ve scoped out the back roads to Wideview on the map. I’m ready to check it out, first-hand.  

Bill Armstrong (Photo courtesy Bill Armstrong)

About the Author

Bill Armstrong is a freelance writer and amateur photographer living in Regina.

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