Just west of Coal Lake, several kilometers east of Wetaskiwin and approximately 60 kilometers southeast of Edmonton is a 104-acre (42 hectares) parcel of land. The signs at the entrance identify it as the Pipestone Creek Land Trust.
The public can access this property and are greeted by a series of groomed trails that lead to a panoramic view of Pipestone Creek and the surrounding valley from steep and high slopes. This is one of several properties acquired and managed by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust that will be maintained into perpetuity as a nature sanctuary for all to enjoy; hiking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, viewing wildlife or studying nature or photography.
The ownership of the Pipestone Creek property by EALT is welcome news for residents of Wetaskiwin and region. The property abounds with wildlife and a variety of natural vegetation such as wild Saskatoon trees, raspberry trees, flowers, aspen and spruce forests, and grassland species (prairie wool) on the south slopes.
Since the property was acquired by EALT in May, 2012, many people and their families and friends have taken the opportunity to hike the pathways and generally enjoy the natural outdoors. University students with clipboards and equipment in hand, spent enjoyable hours studying in this outdoor classroom. EALT recently planted more than 31,000 trees, selecting varieties that are natural to the area.
The new challenge – “Go Wild for Geocaching”
This summer “Go Wild for Geocaching” is being offered to visitors. geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt where participants use their mobile phone or GPS devices to find hidden containers. EALT staff have been busy over the past weeks placing the caches on natural areas to take geocachers on an adventure through beautiful, photogenic scenery while challenging them to find the creatively named and well-hidden caches. Overall, EALT has stashed a dozen caches on six conservation lands. Each geocache is hidden in an intriguing place and reveals some interesting tips about nature. With over 2.5 million geocaches hidden worldwide, EALT is now on the map for those looking to explore nature in their backyard.
The EALT cache locations were posted July 17. EALT staff report, “We are amazed and delighted to find that all twelve caches were discovered over that weekend. Don’t worry though, the caches are returned to their hiding place for the next person to find as well.”
Stephanie Weizenbach, outreach coordinator at EALT, is proud of the positive reactions to this project. “We have been amazed by the response to the geocaches. People are discovering new natural areas close to home, learning new facts, and raving about it online. It is really inspiring to see geocachers celebrating nature online, and even thanking us for encouraging stewardship, and providing DIY solutions to environmental issues.”
This exciting project, proposed and created by EALT, is supported by WWF Canada. David Miller, president and CEO, explains why WWF Canada is a strong supporter of this project. “There is so much nature to explore and conserve, right in the backyards of our major cities,” says “Geocaching is a fantastic way to promote these wild areas, and by including stewardship information, EALT is motivating people to take action for nature.”
Pipestone Creek is for everyone’s benefit
Pam Wight, Executive Director of EALT , said “The Edmonton and Area Land Trust is a young organization having been established as recently as 2008. But, in that short time we have made significant strides for conservation. When we own environmentally sensitive lands, we ensure that they are protected in perpetuity, for people and for wildlife. I must say we are very grateful for the support from donors and volunteers that help ensure we can continue to secure, steward and protect natural areas for everyone’s benefit. Although properties are donated to EALT, it costs approximately $20,000 for professional and other fees at the front end to activate each new property. Then to manage the properties we have to pay taxes, make improvements such as planting trees, installing fences and more.
“EALT is proud to have acquired, and is managing several properties like Pipestone Creek to ensure our children and grandchildren can see wildlife and natural spaces, first hand.”
Explore the gorgeous Pipestone Creek natural area for a fun-filled geocaching experience. The following activities are prohibited: the use of all-terrain vehicles, motorbikes, and other motorized vehicles; mountain biking; the removal or destruction of any plants, animals, minerals, fossils, or other natural objects; hunting (except with special permission); camping and campfires and littering.
For more information go to www.ealt.ca, www.ealt.ca/properties/pipestone-creek or phone executive director Pamela Wight at 780-483-7578.