Volunteers make Big Valley flourish
The Qu’Appelle River Valley is one of Saskatchewan’s prominent scenic landscapes. Its picturesque slopes and waterways host a wide variety species and offer views unlike any other in the province.
I’ve driven through this region many times before, briefly admiring the sights as I made my way toward Regina. So, when the opportunity came up for me to attend a forb-planting event at NCC’s Big Valley property in the Qu’Appelle River Valley, I was more than happy to help out and learn more about the area.
Big Valley planting site (Photo by NCC)
Despite the extreme, dry 31 C weather, 16 volunteers of all ages showed up to assist in planting native flowers at Big Valley on a Saturday in mid-July. It goes to show that those who are passionate about nature and making a difference aren’t deterred by the elements. I expected to be sweltering while working outdoors, but the smoke from the wildfires burning in the northern part of the province provided cover from the sun.
Volunteers planting native wildflowers (Photo by NCC)
Over 500 wildflower plugs were planted that morning, including gaillardia, bergamot, hairy golden aster and dotted blazing star. These species of native flowers are beneficial to the grassland environment, helping pollinators thrive and providing habitat for them. The chosen area for the planting is part of a restoration site, and wildflowers are one part of helping this environment develop.
Volunteer planting native wildflowers (Photo by NCC)
We split up into pairs and spread out along the rolling hills to cover a large area of the broad terrain. I’d planted trees before, but never flowers, and found out quickly that the holes didn’t need to be dug very deep. The group was very efficient at planting and, before noon, the last plug had been put in the ground.
Big Valley lookout (Photo by NCC)
To finish off the event, the group went on a short hike to further explore the Big Valley property. The trail dropped in elevation for a large stretch and then rose to a scenic lookout point that oversaw the Qu’Appelle River. This was a highlight for me, being able to overlook a large part of the valley and take a few photos. While those photos don’t do justice to actually being there, they provide a positive reminder as to the importance of conservation in our province.
Wildflowers growing at Big Valley (Photo by NCC)
This was the first volunteer event that I’ve taken part in, but it won’t be my last. I look forward to upcoming events and opportunities to help with conservation efforts in our province. Check here for future volunteer events and ways to get involved with conservation in Saskatchewan.