Unspoiled, ‘tremendously special’ forest at west edge of Edmonton to open to public in the fall

The Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, a 250 hectare old-growth forest just 30 kilometres from downtown Edmonton, is expected to be open for nature lovers to enjoy this fall, according to the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT).

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The EALT, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, held a media event at the parcel of land west of Alberta’s capital on Tuesday to talk about its future now that it has acquired the land. The property, acquired from private landowners, features diverse vegetation and wildlife.

‘It features aspen parkland woods as well as pockets of white spruce, tamarack, jack pine and wetlands, giving way to diverse plant communities throughout the whole area,” the EALT’s website says. “This natural area is an important refuge for wildlife and is home to many species including moose, deer, squirrels, owls, hawks and songbirds.”

In May 2015, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced it was hoping to raise $4 million to purchase the forest and wildlife habitat. The land belonged to five families who preserved it in its natural state and agreed to sell it to the conservancy at a fraction of its market value.

READ MORE: Group raising $4M to buy large natural area outside Edmonton

Watch below: On May 21, 2015, Fletcher Kent filed this report after five families agreed to sell their land at a discount to Nature Conservancy Canada so it can be preserved.

“We’ve owned this for 45-plus years now and as kids, this was a long way from the city… it was a trip out to the country and it was always a special day when we got to come out here,” Kim Laskin, one of the former landowners, said on Tuesday.

The owners kept the land intact despite significant development all around it over the years.

“It’s like an oasis in the middle of a whole bunch of farmland.”

Laskin said his family also owned a nearby farm and would often take their horses to gallop through the Bunchberry Meadows area. He said he and the other landowners approached the conservancy about selling the land because with growing families, the land wasn’t being used as much as before.

“(It’s) very important that this was protected forever,” he said. “(This was) the ultimate way to preserve our parents’ legacies and keep this property exactly how it should be.”

“This is a tremendously special property,” said Pam Wight, executive director of the EALT. “It’s very large for the Edmonton area – a whole section of land. It’s completely natural.

“There are large populations of people who have to drive considerable distances to get to areas that are natural and this has tremendous promise.”

To help buy the land, the EALT was buoyed by a $1.667-million gift from an anonymous donor.

Wight said the green space won’t open to the public until the fall because her organization needs time to ensure the area and its trails are safe for nature lovers to use and to take steps to make sure the land isn’t damaged when visitors begin using it.

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