Boardwalk protects wetlands

JJ Collett Natural Area recently finished a new boardwalk, giving access to a section of the trails that, due to flooded lowlands,

JJ Collett Natural Area recently finished a new boardwalk, giving access to a section of the trails that, due to flooded lowlands, hasn’t been easily accessible since 2008.

Society vice-president Roger Stawart says now people can easily get to the northwestern part of trail seven without damaging the environment. “It’s a pretty valuable ecosystem and we didn’t want it trampled.”

The area is covered with standing water year round and grows several types of trees, flowers and a herb called horse tail; which dates back to prehistoric times where they grew the to the size of modern day trees.

Construction of the boardwalk began in March when the screw pilings were put in and erection of the actual structure started early May.

Stawart says the project wasn’t always easy because of Alberta’s weather and it was president Jack Surbey who make it possible.

“He conducted us all the way through the job. We would not have done this without Jack Surbey.”

At times the wood materials had to be pulled through a foot of standing water just to get to the construction site; once Surbey took his truck in there and almost couldn’t get it out again.

The construction workers, many of whom were volunteers, were sometimes working in knee-deep water and hip-waders.

“It’s really a completion of trail 7,” said Stawart, referring to the northwestern part of the trail.

He feels trail 7, and several other parts of the natural area have something special to offer, especially with their sand dune topography.

“Sand dune topography is really topography . . . left over from the ice age.”

Later in the summer JJ Collett Natural Area members are planning to have a grand opening for the boardwalk.