Lacombe County council has approved a plan to turn a generous land donation into a natural area laced with trails.
Earlier this year, Frank and Rose Kuhnen donated 146 acres of land just north of Blackfalds near Lacombe Lake to the county. It came with the condition that the picturesque quarter section be kept as a natural area for the enjoyment of visitors.
On Thursday, county council got a look at the plans to turn the heavily treed area with beautiful views of the lake into a green oasis for walkers.
This year’s schedule will see a gravel parking lot built on the southeast corner of the site near an existing campground and close to the TransCanada Trail. Signs will be placed to mark out the trails and some old fencing and a small pig barn will be removed and other general cleanup done.
Next year, some of the animal trails that crisscross the site will be cleared for human walkers and a small picnic area will be set up with tables and garbage cans in the southwest corner of the site. In 2017, a more elaborate day use area and a connecting trail is planned to the north.
The existing Tipi Village Campground will continue to operate on 24 acres of land leased back for that purpose.
Councillors were enthusiastic about the trail plan, which doesn’t involve paving paths or creating more formal attractions, but aims to retain the natural character of the property.
“I think it’s great,” said Coun. Ken Wigmore, he told staff. “I think your plan is good. Stay at it.”
In the future, the park will be seen as a “jewel” in the county, he predicted.
Coun. Dana Kreil was also pleased to see the vision for the area.
“I think it’s fabulous,” she said, adding she expects its proximity to the TransCanada Trail will make it a popular destination.
Some concern was voiced by Coun. Brenda Knight, who questioned whether county staff would be stretched too thin trying to undertake all of the park work along with regular road and maintenance jobs.
“I don’t want to just keep adding projects and taking away from other things,” she said.
County operations manager Phil Lodermeier said the park work was designed to fit in with existing schedules and won’t mean dropping other jobs.
The park is just north of Blackfalds west of Hwy 2A.