By Stephanie Weizanbach.
Outreach Coordinator, Edmonton and Area Land Trust.
December 14, 2018.
The Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) is celebrating a decade of local nature conservation. EALT works to benefit wildlife and people, and to conserve all nature’s values, so these special lands can be enjoyed forever. We look after these natural spaces with volunteers who are critical to our work, and we educate the public to help protect nature for them and their children.
Thanks to the support of the community, EALT has accomplished 10 successful years of conserving natural areas. We started 2018 by announcing the securement of our 10th natural area, and have secured two more since! These new natural areas bring our total lands to 2,243 acres conserved for citizens and wildlife. That is equal to 533 average city blocks! Not a small feat for this, one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada!
So what does EALT do with 2,243 acres of nature? You might think that nature takes care of itself and needs no maintenance. Not so, and our decade of stewardship has impressive numbers to prove otherwise!
Over our 10 years of caring for our lands, hundreds of EALT volunteers have logged over 13,000 hours. Volunteers have bravely removed 40 km of gnarly, rusty barbed wire to improve wildlife habitat safety. They have also restored habitat by controlling over 100 acres of weeds, returning to the same spot, year after year to pull those persistent invasive weeds.
EALT has also enhanced the critical habitat on our lands by planting 263,000 native trees. These future forest locations are restoring an old ranch to its natural habitat, and enhancing a forest that was once degraded by gravel mining.
We invite the public to enjoy these lands on foot, for family outings, nature hikes, bird watching, or simply connecting with nature. Spending time in nature is good for everyone’s physical and mental well-being and is critical for children’s health and development. To enable our lands to be accessed for the good of our residents, we maintain 27 km of foot trails and have directions and trail maps available on our website at www.ealt.ca.
EALT constructed a trail this summer to make Coates Conservation Lands accessible to visitors. Volunteers installed multiple stairs to stabilize steep areas of the trail, making it easier to maneuver. The trail offers stunning views of Willow Creek and if you’re lucky, a peek at dinosaur remains.
Raising awareness about our conservation work, and related issues and opportunities, is an important part of EALT’s work. In our decade of local conservation, we have developed over 50 educational resources, most of which are available in our Resource Library, and include a self-guided nature tour of Coates Conservation Lands, just 11 minutes from Calmar.
EALT resources include wildlife information guides, such as our Species at Risk in Alberta booklet – a first of its kind in Alberta. EALT hands out stewardship guides at community events to promote wildlife-friendly yards across the landscape, to help us share our space with Alberta species. Other resources include factsheets, nature guides, children’s resources, and habitat blueprints so you can build your very own bee hotel, bat box or bird house. We share everything with schools and the public, and with the thousands of people who are signed up to our quarterly newsletter.
A heartfelt thanks to our community for your support and contributions to our 10 years of conserving local nature!