The future is bright for moose in Edmonton, thanks to Sierra's Prairie Chapter volunteers and their partners. This past August, Sierra's Edmonton regional coordinator Charlie Richmond and fellow volunteers celebrated the official opening of Hawks Ridge Pass, a $4M highway underpass that offers a safe access route for moose, deer and other wild animals.
Charlie explains it this way:
“Picture Edmonton bisected diagonally northwest to southeast by the North Saskatchewan River Valley. In the warmer months it’s productive riparian habitat for moose, white-tail deer and mule deer. But to survive in winter they need access to coniferous upland habitat.”
A developer first approached Sierra Club to review its plans in 2009.
“The gravel road to the Big Lake development area was going to become a four-lane arterial roadway,” says Charlie. “Without a wildlife underpass, the potential for vehicular collisions was great.”
Hawks Ridge Pass is the fifth and latest milestone in a six-year conservation process that has City of Edmonton staff, developers, provincial park staff, engineers, planners and local green groups all working together to limit the harm to nature from housing developments around Big Lake.
Preventing development was never an option; there just wasn’t enough political support. And in some ways, the development will have some unexpected benefits. For example, eutrophication from agricultural run-off was threatening the lake and residential development is projected to reduce it to less than a third.
Sierra Club volunteers were immersed in project details from the beginning, from reviewing draft plans to offering advice and, importantly, leading tours of the site for politicians, City administration, and developers, to inspire a fuller appreciation for natural beauty and its marketing value.
“The developer (Walton Development and Management) is to be commended,” says Charlie. “It was such a pleasure for us to participate in a solution-oriented project.”
All of the hard work has paid off for Sierra Club because it is the respected ‘go-to’ organization for nature issues in and around Edmonton.
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