2024 June Newsletter

June 26, 2024
By: CPAWS Northern Alberta

2024 June Newsletter

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Dear Reader,

Our team was fortunate to spend two days canoeing the North Saskatchewan River in June! Our journey started southwest of Edmonton in Devon and wrapped up northeast of the city’s boundary in Fort Saskatchewan. The focus of the trip was primarily to bond as a team, but it also doubled as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of the North Saskatchewan river valley.

Travelling from one end of the city to the other by river, we saw firsthand how the river connects communities and how wildlife depends on the river valley as an ecological corridor. In the northernmost metropolis in north America, we are lucky to have nature at its heart.

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Stepping Away from our Desks and into a Canoe

On a crisp Tuesday morning, the CPAWS Northern Alberta team clipped on their life jackets and launched their canoes into the North Saskatchewan. Many of us had never been to that area of the river, and we loved the quieter trails along the river and wide rocky beaches. The bank along the river towered over us, reddened by iron on the north bank and evidence of geological shifts from thousands of years ago on the south bank.

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The portion that we travelled is located within the parkland natural subregion of Alberta, which is defined as a transition area between the southern grassland regions and the boreal forest. A healthy mix of polar and aspens peppered the greenery near the river. Big Island Provincial Park was a stop along our route. The park was flagged to be added to the provincial parks system in 2022, which you can read about here and it has since been listed as a provincial park. It is representative of the parkland region, and it was a unique opportunity to visit the park as it is inaccessible on foot.

For long stretches outside of the city limits, it felt like we were the only ones among the birds, deer and beavers along the river. We could see hundreds of burrows from bank swallows along the riverbank as they swooped near the surface of the water. As we approached roads passing over the river, we noticed the dichotomy of the traffic noise with the peaceful setting that lay below.

We saw many birds with their young – check out some of the photos below!

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Our second day started in the Capilano area as we headed east to Fort Saskatchewan. The day was clear and sunny which brought many more people using the river valley. Along the way we saw folks walking along the trails, cyclists, hikers, people setting up to fish, and some enjoying the golf courses along the way. Though golf courses take up a large portion of public land that is then privatized and rid the landscape of native greenery, they do still offer safe passage for much of the wildlife using the valley as an ecological corridor.

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Along this segment of our journey we saw evidence of past and present industrial presence along the river. Though many were established decades ago, in the 1970s, many associated structures remain along the river. It was a testament to how values and vision can change and impact a place like the North Saskatchewan river valley. It was an important reminder that industry leaves its mark, and they must be partners that are invested in the health of the river valley and its ecosystems for the communities that they establish themselves within.  

While stopped on the north bank, we noticed some tracks that resembled moose but seemed smaller than expected. A few kilometers down the river, we spotted a young moose that had swam across to the south bank!

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Our paddle down the river was a total of 82 kilometers, a big feat to fit into our week! We returned to our desks a little sorer but feeling reinvigorated from spending time on the river.

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The Case for a National Urban Park

A common argument we are seeing in regard to the National Urban Park initiative is that the North Saskatchewan river valley in the Edmonton region is already great as it is. So why involve Parks Canada? The opportunity for a national urban park would be a huge investment in the region that may not be otherwise available at the municipal or provincial level.  
Along our journey, we saw where there are gaps in the long-term protection of the river valley. Much of the infrastructure along the river valley needs updating and many access points have been washed out causing safety concerns.  
Added support from the inception of a national urban park could provide resources for public education. Imagine if more resources were available within the river valley for our neighbours to learn about local species at risk and the importance of being good stewards!  

We recently published a fictional retelling of what the reality of a national urban park would look like in the river valley, which you can read here. You can also learn more through our story map.

Speak up for the River Valley

City of Edmonton Ribbon of Green 
open until Sunday, June 29th

The River Valley Planning Modernization Project is renewing its strategic planning, processes, and regulatory tools for the River Valley and Ravine System. We are excited to see that a lot of our concerns were incorporated in Phase 3 of the engagement process, specifically in regards to land management classes. This is an important engagement that will guide future values and direction for the river valley in the region.

We encourage you to emphasize conservation and nature protection with an included vision for prioritizing interconnected ecological areas and the potential for a national urban park in the river valley.

Learn more

Send a Letter – Support a National Urban Park

Voice your support to see a national urban park in the Edmonton region.

Take Action

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A Plan for Parks

One June 19, the Government of Alberta released a survey soliciting public feedback on the creation of a new ‘Plan for Parks.’ CPAWS Northern and Southern Alberta welcome the opportunity for Albertans to provide feedback on our parks system. Read our joint statement.

We will be releasing a detailed survey guide shortly. If you would like to take the survey now, we encourage CPAWS supporters to emphasize that protection of nature should be a top priority of the Plan For Parks, that more parks should be designated, and activities that can harm nature should be limited.


Take Action

Share your support for National Urban Parks

Email your MLA to let them know you support National Urban Parks and would like to see Alberta be a part of a national network of urban parks.

Take Action

Protect the Wilderness

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