Visitors from far and wide came to see the newly erected Michichi Creek Boardwalk within Starland County on Thurs. June 20.
Over 120 people came to support the opening and eat a hot lunch. The walk features 11 detailed educational signs as well as a memorial gazebo with bench seating at the base.
“It was a really, really great turnout and I’m so happy that people came out and enjoyed the day,” said Dara Kudras, lead on the project and assistant agricultural fieldman for Starland County.
“I really hope the schools get out here, 4-H, whoever can come out and enjoy this boardwalk. It’s so close now that it’s a great educational tool for everybody and tourism as well with visitors to the area and campground.
“I just hope we get more foot traffic over here so people can enjoy it.”
This project began in early 2017 when Kudras applied for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Grant.
“Our overarching theme behind this was to be an educational tool to showcase flood and drought resiliency in the Red Deer River watershed. So with that, we also had a large aspect of it being a beaver co-existence program and of course the educational tool of the boardwalk with the signs coming together.”
The construction and design work did take longer than expected due to weather issues and flooding.
Starland County partnered with Cows & Fish on getting the riparian health assessment done for both upstream and downstream of the beaver dam as well as the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance with mapping and signage, the Alberta Invasive Species Council who provided images and knowledge on invasive species, the Starland County Agricultural Service Board and Alberta Environment and Parks.
During the construction phase, Starland took the opportunity to offer a workshop on installing a pond leveller and a riparian living fence.
“It essentially is going to hold back water even if the beavers aren’t around. If the beavers move out of the area for a period of time and the dam falls into disrepair if we’ve got that in place, it’s essentially just willows weaved between fence posts, it will keep that water level back with the pond leveller.
“It’s a combination of a living fence and a pond leveller to make sure we are keeping that area backed up with water and mitigating out drought mostly in this area,” explained Kudras.