CARSTAIRS - The first tree has been planted in the new Carstairs Nature Space outdoor area in south Carstairs, with major donor Inga Owens on hand to help with the initial planting during a brief ceremony on April 21.
The park is located on an 19 acre parcel on the east side of 10th Avenue just south of the rodeo grounds. The project is a joint effort between the Town of Carstairs and the Carstairs and District Agricultural Society.
Owens, her late husband Murray, and their family donated $50,000 towards the project.
Life-long environmental stewards, the Owens decided to support the project for the long-term benefit of the community, she said.
“When the concept for this park was conceived, our family felt this fit the criteria to enhance the community and honour appropriate persons,” said Owens, who has lived in Carstairs for 30 years.
“This park with Indigenous plant life shows appreciation of the past, the present and the future. It can be an excellent teaching and learning tool on all levels for all ages. As well, it can be an oasis in our hectic world.”
In all, about 280 native trees will be planted at the park this spring, said John Ing, director of parks and naturalized areas with the Town of Carstairs. He is a horticulturalist and a certified arborist.
He explained that trees being planted at the site include Tamarack, White Spruce, Black Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, Trembling Aspen, Green Alder, and White Paper Birch, while bushes being planted include Gooseberry, Northern Red Currant, Saskatoon, Pin Cheery, Raspberry, Low and High Cranberry.
The area will also feature a perimeter trail for walking that is also long enough for cross-country running in summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
There will also a small toboggan hill, an agriculture production, gardening and native grass demonstration area, water areas with cattails and other wetland vegetation.
Also included will be natural play areas for children, temporary seating can be set up for music and other performances, as well as places to sit and visit along the connecting paths among the trees.
As well as the natural elements of the area, it will also lend itself to education opportunities: for walking tours of the trees and signage for the many native tree species; examples of agricultural crops, forage crops and native grazing grasses; a sample garden to show how food can be grown; a wetland demonstration area; Arbour Day celebrations; and educational visits for local and students from outside of the area.
Mitch Miller of Aspen Lane Tree Farms is the organizing committee’s representative from the ag society’s board of directors. He was on hand to help Owens plant the first tree during the April 21 ceremony.
Jerry Roberts is a Carstairs resident and one of the organizing committee members.
“People need the outdoors,” he said. “For countless reasons, people are not able to escape their urban lifestyle to be in large outdoor spaces often enough. So, in urban settings, we create green spaces for them to experience fresh air.
“These spaces often take the form of large mowed areas, some trees, flower beds, paved pathways, picnic table and playgrounds. They are places to relax.”
Donations to the project are still be accepted through the town office, he said.