With a host of initiatives planned for 2020, the Nature First Airdrie Rocky View Foundation (NFF) is ramping up its efforts to highlight the importance of conserving natural wildlife habitat.
“We really need to get the word out that, with all the building happening around us, it’s important to preserve our lifestyle with wildlife habitat,” NFF president Liz Wood told Airdrie City View in March. “There are animals out there that need to grow in their own natural habitats, and I think we can sometimes forget about that.”
Jody Primeau, secretary for the foundation’s board of directors, said NFF was founded in 2012 in response to the City of Airdrie’s 12,000 Acres Plan. The growth management plan was formed after the municipality annexed more than 12,000 acres from Rocky View County (RVC) to provide a 50-year land supply for future development.
As per the plan, Primeau said, the City is preserving some of the land for schools and parks, but NFF is interested in working with local government and developers to ensure a large tract is left for wildlife conservation.
“We know that in 40 years, we can’t go backwards, so [we want to] plan ahead and make sure we have a space like [Calgary’s] Fish Creek Provincial Park or Nose Hill Park,” she said.
Though the area for such a green space is undetermined, Primeau said an ideal location would be on the outskirts of Airdrie or in RVC.
“We would love to have three per cent of the land that is being allocated somewhere where we’d have access to different habitats – somewhere where there is the creek and grassland, so all the animals can live in that habitat and raise their families,” she said.
“We have a beautiful little park downtown [Nose Creek Regional Park], but it’s not meant for wildlife habitat, so we’re looking at something more substantial than that to be in the planning.”
NFF has made strides in the last few years, obtaining official not-for-profit society status in 2018 and holding its first gala event in April.
Primeau said those milestones have helped increase the public’s awareness of the organization.
“As we’re just grassroots and just beginning, our first goal is to provide education about preservation of natural habitat and to get the community involved,” she said. “We want to get the community aware of [us] and get them to appreciate and understand nature.”
One of the engagement initiatives the foundation is undertaking is the Our Nature Archive. According to Primeau, NFF is inviting Airdrie residents to submit photos they have taken of wildlife in or around the city, which will be published on the foundation’s Facebook and Instagram pages as a “legacy photo album.” An exhibition of the photos will also be on display at the foundation’s spring gala.
Another initiative NFF is undertaking, according to Primeau, is a wildlife photography workshop Jan. 26, 2020. The one-hour session, led by professional photographer Nicole Parker, will teach attendees how to take nature photos with their iPhones.
The foundation has also planned a nature walk March 15, 2020, in Big Hill Springs Provincial Park near Cochrane, which will be led by NFF’s founder and former president Ken Hoehn.
“We really want to work on getting the citizens to understand who we are and get them behind us, because it’s a project that will benefit everyone in our community,” Primeau said.
As a show of support for the foundation’s various initiatives, the Rotary Club of Airdrie provided NFF with a $700 donation in late November.
“We were very grateful to the rotary club for giving us that money to help us out with this whole project we’re working on,” Primeau said.
-with files from Jessi Gowan