Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sheep River Provincial Park

Sheep River Provincial Park is located 106km SW of Calgary in Alberta. Take highways AB-22 and AB-546W, or AB-2A south to Otokoks, then west on AB-7 to Black Diamond and at Turner Valley to AB-546W, leaving 36km.

Sheep River is part of the Bow River watershed, providing drinking water to the towns of Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Okotoks.

The Sheep Falls are located near the Bluerock Campground and the Indian Oils Trail on the Sheep River Road at the western portion of the Park.

The park is open May 15 to November 30th each year which assists the Bighorn Mountain Sheep in maintaining their herd numbers. For the avid outdoors person there is camping, hiking, biking/cycling, fishing, horseback riding, and, of course, photographing birds and spectacular landscapes. For fishing enthusiasts a fishing license is required, and there is a catch and release in effect. This park is home to Cutthroat Trout, Bull Trout and Rainbow Trout. For the hiker often deer, elk, bear and Bighorn Sheep are seen.

For hikers there is information on the trails with Alberta Parks showing the degree of difficulty and more information. Group hiking is essential as this is bear country!

Historically, in 1884 to 1885 John Ware worked for the Quorn Ranch located on the Sheep River.

Photo Credit: phoven CC=flickr.

Research: wikipedia

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Plains Bison in Banff National Park

Plains bison were reintroduced into Banff National Park in March 2015.

For those unable to watch embedded see here.

In the mid-1800s the majority of Plains Bison had been eliminated from the continent except for a few free ranging herds. They have always had a role in the ecosystem by their creation and maintenance of grasslands and meadows through grazing and physical disturbance of the ground. Bison are also a food source to predators.

The First Nations and pioneers benefited from the bison in years past. This reintroduction will assist the cultural reconnection which has been lost for over a century.

A long-term maximum population for Banff will be in the range of 600 – 1,000 individuals. To protect the initial relocation area it will only be accessed by established trails on foot or on horseback. For those who venture too closely the bison can create safety risks such as human fatalities. They weigh 450-900 kilograms, are agile for their size and capable of speeds up to 70 kilometres an hour. The areas of “the Panther and Red Deer River valleys, and the Fairholme Bench area of the lower Bow Valley” are locations that have the appropriate range habitat to support the bison.

The first phase of the reintroduction includes placing 30-50 bison in a temporary soft release paddock in the Panther-Dormer River area in the summer/fall. These plains bison will come from the herd at Elk Island National Park. The phasing in period will be over the next five years and beyond. Currently the Dormer River Valley is closed for prescribed fired burnings which will enhance new vegetation growth for the plains bison to be placed there.

This is exciting as it has been quite some time that Banff National Park has had the plains bison available to the public. During some of my early visits to Banff in childhood (late 1950s-1962), I recall seeing the plains bison in the various paddocks.

Research: ParksCanada

Friday, 15 May 2015

Couchiching Beach Park

At the beginning of May, a friend drove me up to Orillia for a short visit in beautiful sunshine. The trees had only barely begun to open their leaf buds.

This 14.5 acre park is located in the City of Orillia, Ontario, 80 miles / 129 kilometres north of Toronto on the west side of Couchiching Lake. It has a swimming beach, flower gardens, band shelter, picnic tables, fishing, trails/pathways, 66 benches, outdoor skating rink in winter and includes the town dock.

East of the lake in the next photo on the green shore line is Casino Rama.

Couchiching is from the Ojibwe word gojijiing meaning “inlet” and is separated from Lake Simcoe to the south by a narrow channel.

The area was first mapped by Samuel de Champlain between 1613 and 1615.

For those interested, I had previously posted historical articles on Samuel de Champlain:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Photo Credits: bemartin (C)2015.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Cascade Gardens

The Banff Administration Building is located on the south side of the Bow River across the Bow River Bridge. The Cascade Gardens surround the stone building and are built into the hillside of Sulphur Mountain. These gardens offer spectacular views of the Bow River and the surrounding mountains.

More information on summer and winter activities can be located in Parks Canada's brochures.

Photo Credit: Fred Hsu CC=flickr