Conserving Edmonton’s River Valley and Ravine System

Most of Edmonton’s natural lands lie within its extensive river valley and tributary ravine systems – an area of 7,400 ha and 48 km in length, including 22 ravines, for a combined total length of 103 km. Much of the area is either under private ownership or targeted by City Parks for recreational infrastructure. Golf courses, gravel quarries, a velodrome and other sports facilities, freeways, boat launches… have all been proposed over the past decades for what is often “free land” to the City. Fortunately there are a growing number of local ENGOs actively involved in conservation of these lands with whom we partner or support on a project basis.

Edmontonians hold widely disparate views toward “parks” - an added complication for those who prefer minimally developed natural areas.  But this is what we take on, through tours, technical briefs, collaboration on City projects, assistance to police and parks rangers, and support to other ENGOs with coordinate interests.  It’s a major continuing activity, over two decades old for SCC – there are always new citizen ideas for “undeveloped” natural lands, or a City proposal for “parking out” (cones on sticks and lollipop trees) yet another area in the river valley. 

It may be frustrating at times , but we are glad to participate in the mess we call “civic democracy”. There’ve been many wins in which SCCF might claim influence.  We’ve participated in City planning for several River Valley and Ravine natural areas, including the Sand Dunes, the Southwest Ribbon of Green, Daylighting Mill Creek, conserving the Larch Lands Oxbow, Terwilligar Park, River Access facilities, the Whitemud Tufa site, and ravine wildlife corridors on Wedgewood, Horsehills and Horseshoe Creeks. There are always more challenges as Edmonton grows. 

Getting politicians, developers and citizen-activists out to these sites has proven our most effective conservation tool; simply hiking through our natural areas turns most participants into fellow environmental advocates.  Starting with the Mayor is always a good idea!

Our Mayor lovingly inspects an Orchid at the Tufa Springs

Sierra Club and Provincial Museum Curator of Archaeology lead tour of Springs and Ochre site to Councillors, River Valley Alliance and press.

University tour through the bush to Edmonton’s largest river valley wetlands 

New to Science: discovery of the first known occurrence of the Woolly Alder Aphid, Paraprociphilus tessellates west of Manitoba!

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