Natural area near Stettler preserved for future generations

A unique quarter section near Stettler featuring a large mineral lick and ravines carved out by melting glaciers has been preserved as a conservation site.

A unique quarter section near Stettler featuring a large mineral lick and ravines carved out by melting glaciers has been preserved as a conservation site.

Beltz Lake Conservation site, about 25 km southeast of the town, is now open to hikers, bird and other wildlife watchers, and hunters and anglers. The 160-acre site featuring wetlands teeming with critters of all kinds was purchased as a joint project by the Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Wildlife Habitat Canada.

“It’s quite an unusual site, both because it has still quite a bit of native vegetation and also because of the geology,” said Andy Murphy, a senior technician with the conservation association. A glacial outwash left by melting glaciers features deposits high in salts.

Murphy said it is likely that the mineral lick was used by bison herds for many years prior to European settlement.

“The evidence for that is the side of the hill is virtually eaten away. And the person we bought this from, his cows still like to go and lick the soil in the same way that bison did years before cattle were brought into the country.”

Both whitetail and mule deer, as well as the occasional moose, can be seen in the area, which is just south of Beltz Lake.

The wetlands are popular with many types of waterfowl and during nesting season, upland areas support a variety of grassland songbirds, including western meadowlarks, a species that has disappeared from many areas in Central Alberta.

Murphy said he couldn’t disclose how much the organization paid for the land owned by Doug Hughes since the mid-1970s, but said it was a good deal.

“It was certainly a good deal for the public because now everyone has access to the site.”

A sign is expected to go up on the site in the next week or two.

On the first Saturday in June next year, the conservation site will be officially opened and the Buffalo Lake Naturalists have been invited to talk about the biodiversity there and the results of their species counts, which have been done for many years in the area.

There are no plans to build trails on the property, but getting around will not be a problem, he said.

“Because it has these two big ravines through it it’s very easy to know where you are and to see the property.”

Boundary markers will be posted on the edges of the site and the sign will include a map of the area.

The site will join 386 already open to the public in Alberta. It is hoped that other sites can be added from Central Alberta in the future.

In the meantime, the association’s focus is on attaining about 1,100 acres on the shores of Cooking Lake southeast of Edmonton and known as Golden Ranches.

For information on conservation sites, go to www.ab-conservation.com

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer property taxes to go up 2.15 per cent in 2019

City council approves $369.8 million budget

Sylvan Lake council approves concept plan for new park

Pogadl Park will eventally be home to numerous ball diamonds and sports fields

One person dead after collision on Highway 2A

Pickup truck and grain truck collided on Highway 2A south of Carstairs

Updated: Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

Sylvan Lake council passes 2019 budget

Tax rate increase of 2.74 per cent set for this year

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Shooter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Stettler

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.… Continue reading

Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace are waving

Police chief confirms all three Ottawa bus victims were on board when it crashed

OTTAWA — All three people killed in last week’s deadly bus accident… Continue reading

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Speedy acceptance of Saudi shows refugee system’s flaws

Who would not wish Rahaf Mohammed well? The 18-year-old Saudi wants to… Continue reading

Most Read