Photo courtesy RED DEER AND DISTRICT ARCHIVES A group of birdwatchers scan the trees at Gaetz Lake Sanctuary on Dec. 27, 1977 during the annual Boxing Day bird count. Eighteen species were spotted in and around the city that day. The bird count continues to be co-ordinated by the Red Deer River Naturalists.

Red Deer River Naturalists history older than Alberta

Group has played key roles in protecting natural areas

The roots of Alberta’s oldest nature conservation group — today known as the Red Deer River Naturalists — go back to even before Alberta became a province.

Today the organization is mainly focused on education today. Over the decades it has played important advocacy roles in Red Deer, Central Alberta and beyond, with such local developments as Dickson Dam and Gaetz Lake Sanctuary, but also with regional and provincial policy surrounding geographical areas such as the Eastern Slopes.

Information gathered by Rod Trentham, Michael Dawe, and the late Michael O’Brien shows that before the Red Deer River Naturalists, there was the North West Entomological Society, founded in Blackfalds 1898. When that body ceased to exist, the Alberta Natural History Society in Innisfail was formed in 1906, one year after Alberta became a province. Then in 1976, it became officially known as Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN).

Over the decades, RDRN has also been involved closely with the planning of Red Deer’s green and natural gemstone, the Waskasoo Park system. It also helped push for the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Instead of using chemicals, RDRN encouraged the City of Red Deer to take a different approach, and the biological mosquito control program was eventually embraced.

Part of RDRN’s mandate is “to encourage Central Albertans to increase their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of natural history; to work towards conservation of natural areas and of species native to Central Alberta; to help prevent abuse of the natural resources.”

Judy Boyd, a well-known local bird enthusiast and expert, has been on the RDRN executive for most years since she first became involved in 1996. RDRN doesn’t do as much advocacy as they used to, although often individual members will take on a particular issue, she said.

The biggest focus of RDRN now is education, she said. That ranges from guest speakers to such things as the bird and flower focus groups and field trips. Some years ago RDRN started the Nature Kids program, which has since been picked up by Nature Alberta.

RDRN gets a lot of people — members and non-members — at their nature talks, she said. One recent one talk was by a scientist who has studied bighorn sheep. Another one was about bats.

“Any way shape or form that we can educate people about wildlife I think is very important, and the RDRN does an excellent job of that.”

Just Posted

Canada’s 150 year ends on ice, but no hockey pucks, triple jumps allowed

OTTAWA — No figure skating. No hockey. No racing. No cell phones.… Continue reading

Banner signing at Collicutt Centre

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Regulator investigating Sears Canada liquidation sale prices: monitor

TORONTO — The Competition Bureau is investigating allegations that prices on some… Continue reading

Liberals push cities to rethink planning with launch of ‘challenge’ program

OTTAWA — Cities looking for extra federal cash are being pushed to… Continue reading

Exclusive Video: Joshua Frank explains shooting Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus

Frank and Jason Klaus are facing triple murder charges in the deaths Klaus’ parents and sister

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing, including individual benefits

A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to… Continue reading

Alberta Party sees growth in Central Alberta

Greg Clark addressed health care needs addressed in Red Deer

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

WATCH: Ponoka’s Festival of Trees sees continued support

Three days of celebration and fundraising held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

Update: Innisfail girl found

A 15-year-old missing Innisfail girl has been located safe and sound. Police… Continue reading

Cost to fix Phoenix pay system to surpass $540 million, auditor general says

The federal government’s chronic salary struggles will take more time and more… Continue reading

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month