News from the Friends of Nose Hill

March 2021

by Anne Burke

In 1984, the “Save the Nose Hill Archives” was deposited at the Glenbow Museum by the Secretary/Archivist of the Nose Hill Park Communities Board. The collection consists of materials including bylaws and regulations, minutes of meetings of various interest groups, correspondence, legal, and financial records; historical outlines, newspaper clippings, a videotape, scrapbooks and photos; library material including maps, publications and city design briefs, as well as an “I’m for Nose Hill Park” t-shirt.

The Board made recommendations for the Nose Hill Park Master Plan Review. Thorough environmental impact studies are required before making major decisions or changing the resource management plan. Visual impact to be minimized. User wants must not overpower natural environmental principles. No general municipal uses allowed except those directly relating to Nose Hill Park and its objectives. This policy should be clearly stated by City Council and exceptions, if any, made by Council.

Archaeology is an immediate resource. Emphasis on preservation and natural resource values, not development and recreation. Do not install water, fire pits, shelters, or playgrounds. Fences and gates a high priority to prevent night-time access beyond the parking lots near the edge. Access for handicapped to gravel pit area with links to paved paths. Wildlife recognized as an essential component of resources and, for conservation, the Board endorsed the concept of a wildlife corridor in a northern direction (with the city-wide bike path). Restrict maintenance vehicle access. Integrate any emergency access with the pathway system. The impact of planned bicycle paths will be too great and these should be “scaled down”. Dogs are on-leash in the park except for some areas identified in the Master Plan, where dogs would be allowed to run off-leash (under their owners’ control).

February 2021

by Anne Burke

The goals of the 2005 City Council-approved Nose Hill Trail and Pathway Plan were to perpetuate the natural character of the landscape while affording compatible recreational opportunities. The report cited multi-track trails overgrown with weeds, rutted and braided trails. Steep trails were causing erosion of the slope. Old gravel trails/roads were eroded and not maintained.

A system of upgraded trails and paved pathways was constructed to manage public use patterns. Off-leash dogs outside of the multi-use zone. Snow fences for closed trails moved or vandalized. Users ignoring snow fences and continually using closed trails. The report recommended interpretive and/or orientation signs for observed dog-bylaw compliance. It also predicted day parking lot use, since the Park is closed overnight. Aerial photos showed flat terrain and grasses on the upper plateau, native grassland and other native vegetation at the top of the escarpment.

There were 15 recommendations, with a summary of park use and routes, park amenities, and parking lot upgrades. The balance between the protection of the natural environment, while providing leisure opportunities, has proved to be challenging. Nose Hill has historical, archaeological, and other resources of natural interest, such as wildlife species and habitat features. Habitat for rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife is significant and sensitive to general park use by dog walkers, cyclists, pedestrians, and other visitors.

Nose Hill Park is a unique urban park only 5 kms from the city centre and a walk from neighbouring communities. An “ecological island”, it is a large area of grassland bordered by John Laurie Blvd. along the south, Shaganappi Trail along the west, and 14th St. N.W. along the east. The Park contains some of the largest reserves of native fescue grasslands in Calgary.

Read more at: www.calgary.ca/csps/parks/construction/nose-hill-park-trail-and-pathway-improvement-plan.html.

December 2020

by Anne Burke

The objectives of Nose Hill Park, in the Council-approved Nose Hill Park Master Plan Review, includegoals to preserve and enhance the natural character of the prairie landscape, to encourage conservation of natural and cultural resources, and to conserve the entire area known as Nose Hill Park as open space for the future use of all Calgarians. 

It was noted that we typically demonstrate a high degree of responsible use of common facilities when we are made aware of the need to do so. Such soft controls would likely be sufficient to reduce most damage to a level which allows the terrain to recover, although they will not stop irresponsible use. 

The education of park users should be the primary method of resource management. This could be done by the Friends of Nose Hill newsletter, brochures, posters in bike shops and pet supply stores, community newsletters, school presentations, community educational events on Nose Hill, and publications such as A Guide to Nose Hill. 

We would have information on the Park’s natural resources (wildlife, vegetation) and their value to the ecosystem, as well as the significance of the Park as a unique resource in an urban environment. We can learn etiquette and rules of use to minimize damage to these resources and help avoid user conflicts.  

The Biophysical Study should be shared, with assessment of the degree of threat to significant biophysical and cultural resources. It was  an ecological land use inventory and analysis of the Park from May to Dec.1993. Field studies were conducted from June to Oct. 1993 to map ecological units and and collect soils, vegetation, and wildlife habitat information at 100 sampling plots. Trail condition and use data were collected from late July to late Sept. 1993. 

November 2020

by Anne Burke

The Steering Committee for the Nose Hill Master Plan Review was a group of volunteers who invested substantial personal time and effort. They discussed , listened, debated, convinced, and compromised on a wide range of issues which were part of the Plan and the preservation of Nose Hill Park. They believed in the long-term future of the Park as an invaluable resource for all residents of Calgary. However, to ensure their legacy, it depends on the continued strong interest of citizens, like those who participated on the Committee.  

Habitat restoration uses native vegetation such as vetch, blue flax and a variety of grasses. Planting of native shrubs and seeding (wildflowers and grasses)  reduces maintenance costs to help support plants, animals, and insects. This increases the beauty, diversity, and access to nature. Restoration takes time. A project can take 3+ years and more to reach the full benefits of the restored area. Please obey any temporary closures, fencing, and signs while the work is done to improve our wild areas. As a key biodiversity target, Calgary aims to restore 20% of open space by 2025.​ Native plants were added along the banks of Nose Creek, with invasive plants removed and controlled. Mowing was stopped in some areas so woody plants grow as a natural buffer to prevent erosion and help improve Creek health. 

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCCprotects and cares for our country’s most vulnerable natural areas and the species they sustain. It is the only national organization dedicated to preserving Canadian biodiversity through the conservation of land. By donations and conservation agreements, the Canada‘s Ecological Gifts Program provides a way for Canadians with ecologically sensitive land to protect nature and leave a legacy for the future.  

September 2020

by Anne Burke

During a Parks and Recreation Study, an interim report in May 1968 set aside City-owned land designated as Public Land for Park Purposes on Nose Hill. It was “not likely” to be the total extent of the Park. The agreement anticipated major roadways and City waterworks. City Council proposed Nose Hill, Bowness Flats, Glenmore, and Fish Creek. (Fish Creek is now a provincial park). 

When the 1980 Nose Hill Park Master Plan was approved, the City owned about one-half of the proposed park area. By 1990, the remaining lands were assembled. The public preferred natural and cultural resource values. The uniqueness of the park must be preserved and perpetuate the natural character of the landscape. Although public use increased, Nose Hill is managed as a natural area, with compatible, low-impact recreation.  

The Responsible Pet Owners Bylaw is under review. The October 2020 – Phase 2 What We Heard Report will be posted on https://engage.calgary.ca/petbylaw, with comments from the public, stakeholders, and City staff. There are phone surveys and focus groups for Bylaw updates to the Council Committee on Community & Protective Services and to City Council by January-March 2021. 

Did you know that Canada has 450 bird species? Yet, grassland birds, aerial insectivores, and shorebirds have all experienced alarming population declines—and many more remain at-risk. We can create bird-friendly cities and reduce bird mortality rates in urban centres. National Wildlife Areas or Migratory Bird Sanctuaries may help Canada meet its protected area targets.   

We should have international relationships and set higher standards for protecting the connective habitat on which migratory birds rely. Their diverse habitats have been heavily degraded due to human activity and their populations face rapid decline. More information on Birds Connect Our World at www.naturecanada.ca. 

August 2020

by Anne Burke

Nose Hill Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and has its unique geological, ecological, and anthropological history. By 1879, the bison herds had vanished. An airport for the air force was on the top of the hill near the current 14th St. lookout point and airport relay tower. This WWI air base was used until the end of WWII. Prior to the 15th Annual Conference of the Blackfoot Confederacy (hosted by the Kainai in Tsuu T’ina) a stone marker was created near an older site of a stone cairn circle. This was a sacred place for ceremonies and vision quests, as well as a lookout for “buffalo, the weather and danger.”

With an abundance of remarkable flora and fauna, there is a new project which aims to record observations made by park users. The Nose Hill park boundaries were entered into iNaturalist.ca from the Open Calgary Parks Data set for a project that automatically summarizes species, locations, and user contributions. If you are visiting the park and see some interesting flora and fauna, please take a photo and add it to iNaturalist.ca (but avoid people and pets). It will also help you with AI: Artificial Intelligence and a community vetting system. See the stats to learn more about what people are finding in the park! To date there have been 1395 observations, 328 species, 278 identifiers, and 166 observers. This is a great way to share valuable information and you will be able to view trends and hot spots of biodiversity in the park. To explore the current map and join the project to keep up with any posts, please visit the project page. https://inaturalist.ca/projects/nose-hill-park-bioinventory.

 

June 2020

by Anne Burke

Did you know there is a Birding Code of Ethics? Respect and promote birds and their environment, the birding community, and its individual members, the law, and the rights of others. 

This spring we enjoyed the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and four special days to document everything wild and beautiful. One of the goals was to identify flora (plants) and fauna (animals). The organizer did not plan any public events in Citizen Science Month, but there were still safe, local activities to promote science about urban biodiversity. 

We have results from the Calgary City Nature Challenge 2020 (plus Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestemere, and Okotoks). More than 755 species were documented with photos and audio clips. Not too surprisingly, the prairie crocus was most often sighted. The dark-throated shooting star was spotted on Nose Hill. 

This was only our second year and we have passed 30,000 iNaturalist.ca observations. Of the Canadian cities, Halifax and Ottawa-Gatineau were top contenders, but YYC had the most observations, species, and observers. 

In all, there were 244 urban areas, the project page rates them, and Calgary ranked in the top 50. http://citynaturechallenge.org/collective-results-2020/. 

Nature Calgary, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Federation are other organizations which support local citizen science and conservation. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, California Academy of Science, and iNaturalist lead this global event. 

Remember, parks are for everyone’s enjoyment. Use only the designated pathways and trails. Please take pictures, not plants or animals. Respect wildlife and keep your distance. Pack out what you pack in. Keep dogs on a leash and pick up after them. Respect the tranquility of other visitors. Wise words. For more information go to www.citynatureyyc.ca. 

May 2020

by Anne Burke

The City maintains 984 kms of regional pathways and 96 kms of trails. In the late 1960s, Calgarians thought of a system of connected pathways to enjoy the visual amenities and access areas of unique natural beauty. The first completed section of a pathway was in the early 1970s. Nose Hill Park has both pathways (to protect the vegetation) and trails. Please use both wisely. 

  • regional pathway is part of the city-wide network and is usually paved with asphalt. 
  • local pathway provides routes in communities, linking residential areas to neighbourhood parks, schools and other community destinations. 
  • Trails are unpaved paths usually made of grainy or compacted dirt.  

Work on pathways deals with missing links, lifecycle repairs, and safety improvements.​​​​​​​ The City will update existing (and build new) pathways and bikeways. Pathways are off-street and bikeways are on-street. The 2001 Calgary Pathway and Bikeway Plan is being updated, since many proposals in the original plan were built, while others are obsolete, due to changes in roads and development. The needs of users and City policies have changed over time. The aims are to separate people by speed, improve visibility; make routes more reliable, easier to use, and accessible.   

The vision is to help us walk, run, ride, and use mobility devices, whether for social, recreational or commercial activities, to connect with public transit and parking. City Council approved guiding principles for the “5A” network for walking and wheeling infrastructure. For now, City staff will work with approved capital budgets. Future capital investment and more budget requests will be needed to build out the network over time. 

For Next Steps go to: https://engage.calgary.ca/pathwaybikeway. 

 

Vanessa Gillard

Programming and community engagement coordinator at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association. Spouse Adam Grayton

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