Town protects, enhances rich natural area within community
Work continues on Willow Park Natural Area Revitalization Project
The Town of Stony Plain is continuing work it began last year on an environmental initiative that will enhance and preserve a rich natural area within the community.
Launched by the Town in 2010, the Willow Park Natural Area Revitalization Project is an environmental initiative intended to enhance the area immediately east of the Willow Park district in Stony Plain. As this naturalized green space is home to a wide variety of small wildlife and native vegetation, the Town designated the area as a natural urban reserve in May of last year.
The approximately $40,000 venture involves carefully planned operational and capital treatments of the area, with the intent of preserving the biodiversity and wildlife habitat within this wildland-urban interface.
“The Town is committed to protecting its natural resources and promoting responsible consumption patterns that encourage living within ecological limits,” says Ken Lemke, mayor of Stony Plain. “We recognize not only the ecological benefits of protecting our natural assets but also the social and recreational benefits – not only to the immediate neighbourhood, but to the wider community as well.”
Maintaining this region is a key priority for the Town, which plans to work together with citizens and community groups to protect this delicate and important ecosystem.
The Willow Park Natural Area was first cleared in 1982 for installation of the East Trunk Sanitary Sewer and again, from 2001 to 2003, for development of a storm-water management pond (additional improvements in 2009).
A wide range of native grasses, trees and shrubs grow in the area, and many birds and small wildlife have returned to habitat here.
Developed trails throughout the area connect to High Park and the south end of Willow Park, and to the Town’s extensive trail network on the north side of the area. The Town-owned and –maintained area has been designated as ‘Parks / Open Space’ within the Municipal Development Plan. Land surrounding the area is privately owned and used for urban / residential development.
Phase I of the project, completed in 2010, focused on operational treatments of the area, including: mechanical weed control; installation of fencing and a gate along the southern edge of the region (parallel to Highway #628); mowing the grassed pathways; and monitoring and treating native grassy areas to encourage continued growth.
Phase II, which will be completed this year, boasts several enhancements, such as: construction of approximately 150 metres of multi-purpose trails; installation of some educational signage; leveling and seeding of park areas directly behind residential properties; and planting trees to increase biodiversity and provide better coverage for native bird and wildlife.
Funding for development and installation of some educational signage for the Area will be sourced from a $15,000 grant awarded to the Town by TD Green Streets, the flagship program of Tree Canada. One of many initiatives supported by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF), TD Green Streets is the only nationally based municipal forestry innovation program in the country. The grant designates $10,000 for public education, and $5,000 is earmarked for communications.
To help promote the Willow Park Natural Area revitalization project, the Town has planned a community event on Sat., June 18, 2011 at 10:00 am, which will coincide with its first-ever official Arbour Day celebrations; Arbour Day is a day to plant and nurture trees and to celebrate the town’s urban green spaces.
Citizens are invited to participate in community tree planting, to enjoy a free BBQ and to view the new public educational signage that will be installed in the area.
More information about the Willow Park Natural Area project is available on the Town’s website – www.stonyplain.com.