31Oct
By: Trevor Bacon On: October 31, 2018 In: General Comments: 0

NOVEMBER 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

The city is well-known for its park system and has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Nose Hill Park, covering 11 km2 of land in the northwest quadrant of the city.

Please plan to join us at our annual meeting on Wed. Nov. 7 at Triwood Community Lounge, 2244 Chicoutimi Dr. NW, at 7 pm when our invited speaker will be Samantha Managh, who is a Parks Ecologist with Calgary Parks Urban Conservation.  Her research background is in wildlife management, transportation ecology and citizen science. She is responsible for city-wide landscape analysis for wildlife and leads the citizen science program.

She will report on the results of Calgary Captured! science program which has over 60 wildlife remote cameras in 13 parks. This season includes 70,000 photos from Sept. 2017-Feb. 2018. The data on Nose Hill from May-Aug. 2017 counts a total of 406 events: coyote (13), muledeer (172), unknown deer (60), and white tailed deer (161).

We assume that animals find it easier travelling through open habitats such as native grasslands, which provide lower resistance to movement, than busy roadways, industrial areas, or fenced neighbourhoods. The City can now move to prioritizing areas for protection and restoration that will have the most impact on maintaining and improving wildlife connections in the city.

Canada signed the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty that aims for conservation. There is a statement of committment to complete Canada’s networks of protected areas and the work is not finished. The Protected Places Declaration provides for our Natural Legacy. There are many benefits from protecting natural areas by preventing extinction, habitat loss and degradation.

 

OCTOBER 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

Watch for details of our annual general meeting and other news on our website at www.fonhs.org. You can go to www.engage.calgary.ca/parksbylaw to learn about the results of a public survey. For Fall 2018: the Updated Parks and Pathway Bylaw draft was presented to Council for approval. As part of the Bylaw review,  there were information and ideas from reports, 3-1-1 calls, and best practices from other cities. Public engagement is now closed. A citizen science initiative has been launched on the volunteer research website Zooniverse to enlist the help of Calgarians to “crowdsource” the identification of images. www.zooniverse.org/projects/calgary -captured/calgary-captured.

A Walk Leader on Nose Hill was Shelley Alexander, a Professor at University of Calgary and an international expert in wild canid ecology (coyotes and wolves). She is an adept wildlife tracker, who has studied human-coyote interactions, and uses satellite images for mapping in conservation. The Walk Duration was 1.5 hours and areas of Interest were Urbanism and Environment.

Beginning at the Many Owls Valley Parking lot (at Brisebois Drive) on Nose Hill, the walkers ascended the gentle slopes of this native grassland ecosystem; to the top where they had a vantage of the Calgary cityscape and the undulating foothills parklands spanning west to the Rocky Mountain Front. Here they could view the world from the perspective of a coyote and understand the challenges they face living in this urban to wild slope.

Continuing the walk of the trail circuit, they watched for signs of coyote (tracks/scat); discussed local research methods and findings; shared fun facts about urban coyotes; and learned tips to help them live together and co-flourish. Dogs and children were welcome. This walk route was partly paved, partly grass/packed, and gravel trail. The Meeting Place and Finish Point was: Many Owls Valley Parking Lot – North of the Intersection of John Laurie Blvd. and Brisebois Drive, NW.

 

SEPTEMBER 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

There are 150 Off-Leash areas in Calgary and the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw will be reviewed next year. Bylaw Services reminded dog owners about the rules when walking pets in public parks and Off-Leash areas. The Department increased enforcement in Nose Hill Park. The City held an informal public information session, during the summer, at Nose Hill, a popular area for many dog owners. Although it is one of the largest walking trails in Calgary, the only Off -Leash area in the Park is the Multi-Use Zone on the plateau (on the top). This means that dogs must be On-Leash in the parking lots, on the pathways, and elsewhere in the park.

Discover the history of Nose Hill Park! was a registered City of Calgary Parks program which focused on everything Nose Hill Park has to offer, from past to present. This program was for children ages 6 – 12 years old.  Participants learned about this historic area through guided walks, nature education, and engaging activities, in order to become natural stewards of their local parks and green spaces.

Since the 1960s, various groups lobbied to have Nose Hill preserved as a natural park. In 1972, a group representing 8 communities pursued the matter. The result was the Nose Hill Design Brief, approved by the City, to set aside 1650 hectares for a Natural Environment Park. In 1976, however, the City rezoned part of the land for housing. In response to public discontent, the City reviewed the zoning issue and, in 1980, approved the Nose Hill Park Master Plan, which aimed to preserve 1109 hectares for the park. In 1981, the Nose Hill Park Communities Board was formed to provide public input into implementation of this plan. There were 12 community associations represented on the board and it kept the issue in the public eye. The City finally reached a deal with remaining landowners, in 1989, and Nose Hill Park became a reality.

 

AUGUST 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

Jane’s Walk” honours the legacy of Jane Jacobs, an advocate for city planning, by having these local community members host free walking tours. (See: The Calgary Foundation website).

“Knowing Nose Hill, a Walking Conversation”, was led by Alex Mowat, an interpretive guide in the Rocky Mountains, on the B.C. coast, and in the sub-arctic. He is with Canadian Parks and Wilderness. According to Mowat, Nose Hill Park is like a member of our community. Many of us have a variety of experiences and memories associated with it. Some of us grew up looking at it and experiencing it as young children; others later. Maybe a friend introduced you to it or you, more or less, stumbled upon it. Maybe today will be your introduction?

By foot, bike, snowshoe, dirt, paved road or snow track, we have explored it, commuted over it, traversed it, breathed in the Rocky Mountains under brilliant blue skies from up top. It is home to a tremendous number of species of flora and fauna, serving as an important conservation space that also gives Calgarians the opportunity to relax, connect, and recreate in an environment connected to both our prairie and mountain roots. Nose Hill is a magical place that I am inspired to share, he wrote.

Another Nose Hill Walk was led by Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, a Cree woman who works at the U of C Native Centre, and Elizabeth Cooper-Dodds. Traipsing together up an old road, carrying blanket and drum, the walkers were greeted by a Blackfoot Medicine Wheel, as they reached the summit on the east side of Nose Hill Park. They sat in a circle, joined together by sharing and learning about the sacred medicines; the significance of the medicine wheel; stories and songs; drumming and sharing in a positive way.

They could make tobacco offerings at the Blackfoot Medicine Wheel to end their circle, then descend, with blanket and drum, to end the journey. This walk did involve climbing/descending, with steep slopes and uneven terrain, and was not recommended for those with mobility issues. Children and “well-behaved” dogs were welcome to share in the Indigenous Walk N Drum on the Hill. Participants could bring their own drums and blankets. Subject to weather, with the vast, open rolling hills in this area, participants were advised to prepare for the weather conditions.

 

JULY 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

Park Clean-Ups

Thank you to the volunteers who initiate clean-ups on Nose Hill, in other parks or green spaces, and in communities. The city offers free TLC kits for groups of ten, with enough garbage bags, gloves, hand sanitizers, with instructions. There are some tips for before your cleanup, on the day, and after, when you share your story. Tweet using #yyccleans.

Park Interpreters

Seasonal Park Interpreters must be 18+ years of age. Volunteers are needed from June to October and the commitment is of 6 shifts per season. Sanctuary Hosts work year-round when positions are available. Other Green Initiatives promote Parks programs. Training, supplies, and support are provided.  If you join the Parks Environmental Education team, there is a screening policy and it may include police information checks. You will be able to learn about nature and cultural history, meet others, represent the city, and foster environmental stewardship.

Pesticides

Health Canada registers pesticides in Canada. There are federal and provincial laws, city environmental policies, and public notification for general pesticide use. The City’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) has a Subcommittee which reviews the process and makes annual recommendations to EAC.

Since the early 1990s, concerns have been raised by environmental stakeholders about spraying pesticides. A task force was struck. City Council approved a Plan, in 1998, which applies to all civic land, including natural environment parks, such as Nose Hill, although there is a 1994 Natural Area Management Plan.

Representative and viable habitat types will be protected, so that environmental impact and safety are considerations. There are restrictions on human use in some areas of Nose Hill, such as the escarpment and aspen woods,  to protect the native plants and wildlife. According to the 1994 plan, where recreational use and significant habitats conflict, protection of the natural resource will come first.

For more information about Friends of Nose Hill visit their website here: www.fonhs.org

 

JUNE 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

International Migratory Bird Day in May was when we offered a free guided walk during the peak time for migrating birds, especially songbirds, to return to Calgary. It is also when they are actively searching for and establishing nesting sites. There is a link on our website to past bird observations for the species that may be seen on Nose Hill. The males will be singing to attract a female and they tend to be most active at an early hour, from sunrise until 10 a.m. In addition, there was an evening Flower Walk to identify and discuss the May Count of Plants in Bloom.

The 2000 Calgary Pathways and Bikeways Plan is being updated to reflect changes to the existing network, updated connections, and approved policies. Priorities will also be reviewed, to determine new pathways, bikeways, and missing connections, so as to improve connections city-wide. With the consultation currently underway, it is anticipated that the final plan will be presented to City Council, in July or Sept. 2018.

The 2003 Calgary Parks and Pathways Bylaw is being reviewed.  A report will summarize the feedback received and offer an analysis to determine if a second phase of engagement is required. Once the process is complete, the results of the consultation will be posted on the City’s website. During the summer, a project team will determine next steps, before the updated bylaw is drafted and presented to City Council for approval in the fall of 2018.

Although the survey is now closed, part of it asked about linear parks for walking, running, cycling, and dog walking. Another was about pathway use year-round, ranging from popular routes for recreational activities; community connection for walking to schools, community stores, or centres; and for commuting to and from work.

Smoking in outdoor recreational spaces; responsible pet ownership rules for on-leash and off-leash; and tree protection on public land, including in city parks, are not part of the review. However, the Parks Bylaw and others may need to be changed to reflect the legalization of recreational cannabis.

For more information about Friends of Nose Hill visit their website here: www.fonhs.org

 

MAY 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

The Parks and Pathways Bylaw The Parks and Pathways Bylaw is under review. There was an online public survey and the results will be posted on the city website at www.calgary.ca. We believe in certain parks for certain uses. Natural Areas are different. The survey was not park specific, so park users were asked to name activities they might enjoy in any or all parks. In the fall, the updated bylaw will be drafted and sent to City Council for approval.

The City’s Urban Conservation team The City’s Urban Conservation team hosted an information session on urban coyotes. Among the topics were: what it means to co-exist with coyotes, typical urban coyote behaviour, and what the City, individual, and community can collaboratively do in relation to better co-existing with coyotes.

May Count of Plants in Bloom The FONHS is hosting free guided walks (2 hours) on Nose Hill to identify wildflowers. More details are on our website at fonhs.org. The Alberta May Count of Plants in Bloom is an annual event sponsored by Nature Alberta. The objective is to record plants in bloom throughout Alberta during the last week in May, using a standardized approach. The purpose is to provide information on the distribution of flowering plants in Alberta. This information monitors  the spread of non-native species and provides insights into the response of plants to variations in climate.

Anyone who is familiar with Alberta wildflowers can participate. You select a natural area and record the plants you see blooming then forward the list to the Count Compiler: Kim MacKenzie. Email her at kim.mack@goldpaw.ca. For those who would like to participate in the Count we will have an information package which we will post on our website fonhs.org. It is no problem at all if you find a flower that you don’t recognize. It can be ignored in your Count. (Or you can photograph it for later identification).

 

APRIL 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

Karen Gummo, a Storyteller & Visual Artist, launched a picture book “LadyBird Fly” which she wrote and illustrated.  The story began with a family adventure on Nose Hill. She developed the tale through workshops with storytelling mentors. Then, she created the visual images, partly from a residency that she did at the Kid’s Creative Museum and from many trips up to her favourite Hill.

I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the CREB Now newspaper and website. The article is “An Uphill Battle: How Calgarians banded together to protect nature and create Nose Hill Park”. The Local Council of Women and the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society were proponents for a public park on Nose Hill and a development proposal was refused by the City in 1972. However, it took some time for the City and the Province to purchase the land. Meanwhile, Citizens for Nose Hill petitioned against rezoning what remained privately-owned. The environmental movement of the early 1970s was the zeitgeist or spirit of the age and we are truly indebted to the park founders for their legacy to future generations.

The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw does not allow livestock grazing within city limits, unless approved by the Land Use Bylaw. There is a City Council-approved exemption for the City to use targeted grazing for integrated pest management purposes on City-owned land. Since 2016 and 2017, Confluence Park and Ralph Klein Park have been the selected sites.

In July, 2017, City Council approved a change to the Parks and Pathway bylaw to expand areas for alternative land management tools, such as livestock. The intent was to add target grazing as a permitted use to remove invasive species (weeds) from City parks. After a two-year pilot project it was determined that the cost of using goats was less per hectare than spraying herbicides.

A tender was posted on the City Portal for experienced Livestock managers/ Professional Shepherds. Providing services to a population of 1.2 million is a $1.5 billion annual business for The City of Calgary, which contracts thousands of local, national, and international suppliers each year.

 

MARCH 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

One of our new projects is to revisit the Wikipedia entry for Nose Hill Park, at the volunteer editor’s request. The online article has a Talk Page, where anyone can add suggestions. Content must be free and shareable. The template requires more exact and accurate references, with links to online sources.

Grasslands are endangered in N. A. because more than 95% were lost to cultivation, trees, pollution, and development. The grassland is 1 of 7 major native habitat types on the hill which are habitat for a variety of animals. Over 198 wildlife species have been identified on the hill.

By 1879, the bison herds had vanished from Nose Hill. Cattle grazing continued on the hill until 1969. Vehicles were tolerated on parts of the hill until 1971. Long-abandoned hulks of cars were removed from the coulees, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Nose Hill Park Trail and Pathway Plan was developed, in 2004, for the 2500 acres, with implementation in 2006. The promise was to protect the flora and fauna, with public education and park management. The park has many informal trails or desire lines. The City proposed 60 kms of maintained trails and pathways, of which 52 kms are dirt and gravel, and 8 kms are asphalt.

Of the total $6.6 M in ENMAX Parks Program funds, $4.5 M (from 2007 to 2012) was used for this Plan, as well as for ongoing trail repairs and rehabilitation, interpretive/ direction signs, and additional trail restoration.

The capital program budgets are #499 Legacy Parks and #500 Parks and Natural Areas. The funding source, until 2012, was excess ENMAX dividends over $35 M; later, in excess of $43 M. By 2017, the share was in excess of $47 M, although 50% of that (up to $20 M) was set aside in a reserve for any shortfall in the ENMAX dividends.

One of the priority areas in Council’s Fiscal Plan 2012-2014 was to protect natural/environmentally sensitive areas and maintain or increase green space, with an emphasis on areas of the City that lack parks.

 

FEBRUARY 2018

News from the Friends of Nose Hill, by Anne Burke

100 years of Nose Creek Valley History is on Canada’s Local Histories Online at www.ourroots.ca. From Nose Hill looking SW there are the city centre and the Bow Valley Corridor. Looking east from Nose Hill there is the Nose Creek Valley Corridor. Nose Hill, West Nose Creek, and Nose Creek Valley were all one area prior to development.

There are also the small satellite parks that are natural extensions of Nose Hill Park and have been cut off from the Hill after development, such as the small but beautiful Nose Hill Springs Park, in Huntington Hills; and other small surrounding island parks. The spring that gives the park its name became an important and useful local landmark.

Nose Hill Spring Park, a Calgary Heritage Initiative, tells us this section includes the west half of Huntington Hills and the eastern portion of Nose Hill Park. The property was outside the city limits, until 1961 and the development of Huntington Hills began, in 1966. The CPR built its stations on its own land, some of which was subdivided and sold, in 1884, as the town site of Calgary. When Carma began to develop Huntington Hills, the company donated this site and named it Nose Hill Spring Park. The Nose Creek Farmers Union of Alberta placed a cairn and plaque to mark the significance of Nose Hill Spring, honour the early settlers, and celebrate the centennial of Confederation, in 1967.

The Friends of Nose Creek facebook site with 52 members is now public with online discussion and meetings at the park. The aims are to protect and improve the ecological opportunities in the area via environmental stewardship and community drive projects, such as clean-ups.

The Natural Areas Group as part of the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society (now Nature Calgary) was formed in 1972 to explore the natural areas of Calgary and collect data on plants, birds, insects, mammals, etc. for publication. Two books on Natural Areas in Calgary were published, in 1973 and 1974, with A Popular Guide on Calgary’s Centenary, in 1975. Further Readings on Nose Hill are:  A Popular Guide: Edited by Beryl Hallworth and Exploring Nose Hill: A Hands-On Field Guide, by Jill Kirker and Diane Kary.

 

JANUARY 2018

by Anne Burke

Thank you to all those who attended our general meeting and enjoyed our guest speaker from the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society.  She answered many questions about wildlife on Nose Hill.  The winners of the photo contest were announced and their photos have been published on our website at www.fonhs.org. Some prizes were from the Councillors for Wards 2, 4, and 7 respectively.

Nose Hill parking lots present a risk to wildlife, such as porcupines drawn to vehicles due to road salt.  Please be mindful and check your car before and after parking near Nose Hill. Off Leash dogs are “quilled” and require veterinary treatment; but the porcupine will, at the least, need to re-grow its quills, be seriously injured, or worse.

There is a lack of support for coyotes when managed as nuisance animals instead of an integral part of the eco lifecycle in nature. Without a balance in the food chain, prey animals abound, and, in general,  there is already pressure  from the loss of green space, in our development-focused urban environment.

There are concerns about the light pollution effect on humans and animals in the natural  environment.  Migratory birds that fly at night head directly into tall buildings, but when lights are turned off, such collisions decrease. This advice is from the Chair of the Light Abatement Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

An Urban Star Park is an area in which artificial lighting is strictly controlled and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby. Sky glow from beyond the borders may be visible to observers within the area, but the skies are still usable for astronomy.

The City replaced 80,000 lights throughout the city with new, energy-efficient LED bulbs, to focus the light straight down, which allows us to see the night sky and stars much more clearly. The change can be viewed from space since  2013, when Calgary enacted its “Bright Skies” bylaw.

 

NOVEMBER 2017

by Anne Burke

Thank you to all those who entered our photo contest and the volunteers who organized it.  The winners were announced at our annual general meeting and will be posted on the website at www.fonhs.org.

Nose Hill was named one of the third best-rated hiking trails in Calgary, at 5620 14th St. NW.  Since 1980, Nose Hill offers 11.27 sq. kms in area and more than 300 kms of informal trails, for outdoor activities: hiking and walking trails, nature, native grassland, wildlife, plant life, dog walking.

The landscapes of Nose Hill Park are quintessential prairie – scrub, small groves of aspen, grassy slopes. But due to its vast size, The City has made great trails for exploring the many environments in the park, and has allowed even more informal trails that are great for jogging, mountain biking, or just trying to find some peace and quiet. But the views are incredible! If you go, bring your big long telephoto zoom, and you’ll be surprised as to what you see. www.threebestrated.ca/hiking-trails-in-calgary-ab

Nose Hill Park offers one and all a beautiful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. This lovely natural space is extensive – 11 square kms – making it the third largest urban park in Canada. It features a few paved walkways, but most are dirt, thus enhancing that feeling and experience of trekking through the prairie fescue grasslands. Along the way, you may encounter any number of significant wildlife from deer, ground squirrels, gophers, and coyotes. www.threebestrated.ca/public-parks-in-calgary-ab

Fish Creek Provincial Park (15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE) and Prince’s Island Park (4th St and 1 Ave. SW) were also named for top-rated trails and as favourite public parks.

Did you know that over 400 species of wildlife live within the City of Calgary?  Do you have questions about the wildlife which share our City? Our guest speaker Jenna McFarland offered a free, fun, and informative talk about the wildlife in Nose Hill Park. She has a passion for the coexistence of wildlife and humans in urban environments. Jenna is the Animal Care Operations Manager, at the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. She has a B.Sc. and Master of Science degrees, in zoology and marine science, and is a Veterinary Technologist.   For more information, visit: www.calgary wildlife.org.