Pine Lake-area resident James Potter regularly crisscrosses Central Alberta, caring for 1,300 nest boxes for ducks, kestrels and owls.
His time-consuming effort is “not just about providing homes for ducks,” said Potter. “It’s about educating people about saving trees for future generations of wildlife.”
If enough older trees are preserved as homes for cavity nesting waterfowl and birds, Potter tells area landowners there won’t be a need for so many nest boxes in future.
Potter’s passion for the environment netted him the Lieutenant Governor Greenwing Conservation Award from Ducks Unlimited Canada at a ceremony in Calgary on Wednesday.
He received an artist’s wildlife print, presented by Ducks Unlimited president Jack Hole, nephew of former governor general Lois Hole. (The current governor general, Norman Kwong, was ill and could not attend the ceremony.)
Potter said he was surprised and thrilled to receive the award, and hopes it draws more attention to his conservation message.
Nature has always enthralled the former Alberta Fish and Wildlife technician, who is now entering his sixth decade. “I was brought up in a house that was very outdoors oriented. It’s just a part of me.”
Potter, who works for the Alberta Conservation Association, tries to check on each of the 1,300 nest boxes he manages once every five years.
Another part of his job is restoring a natural spring. It’s located in what’s become known as Potter’s Seep Heritage Tree Grove in the Buffalo Lake Moraine Conservation Area, near Stettler. The spring is a water source for the large, century-old balsam poplars that grow in the grove.
Potter, who has also done projects for Ducks Unlimited, believes water is the key to life and is worth preserving.
“I always want to do my part for the environment so that the land can provide as much enjoyment, entertainment and solitude to others as it has to me, my family, and friends.”
Hole said Potter’s efforts show that one person can make a difference in conserving wetlands and other habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people. “I am proud of Albertans like Mr. Potter, who are working hard to ensure this natural beauty remains for future generations.”