| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 06:00 am
Poole boardwalk opens
The new John Poole boardwalk brings St. Albert one step closer to getting an interpretive centre at Big Lake, says St. Albert’s mayor.
Dignitaries and red-winged blackbirds gathered near Big Lake Monday morning for the official opening of the John E. Poole Interpretive Wetland boardwalk.
Originally announced in 2009, the Poole wetland boardwalk is a 400-some metre, million-dollar path meant to teach about 1,500 students a year about wetlands. It’s also the first major piece of infrastructure added to Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park since the park was created.
Monday’s opening was meant to coincide with the first student tour of the boardwalk, said Ducks Unlimited chairperson Jack Hole, a nephew of the late Lois Hole, but the students couldn’t make it on account of the mud and rain. The boardwalk itself has technically been open since August.
“John Poole was a great friend of the environment and the community,” Hole said, and his passion for the outdoors would live on in the children and families that visited this wetland. “I know my Aunt Lois, who’s looking down on us today, is very pleased.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse was also pleased with the boardwalk, noting how it could draw many tourists to the region.
“The youth of the world are going to learn something and learn about those birds that are singing.”
The boardwalk should also make it easier for the city to lobby for the completion of the interpretive centre at Lois Hole Park, Crouse said.
“The pedway [from the Enjoy Centre] is the next piece of this puzzle. We have to be able to get across from the St. Albert side to the park.”
The boardwalk will give many kids a chance to get away from their computers and connect with nature, said Susan Poole, daughter of the late John Poole. “I think Dad would be just thrilled.”
Local bug-lovers are aflutter this week due to a rare wave of monarch butterflies that seem to have hit the Edmonton region.
Reports are flooding in this week of local lepidopterists spotting monarch butterflies in Edmonton and Sturgeon County, according to John “the Nature Nut” Acorn, an instructor of renewable resources and bug expert at the University of Alberta.
Monarch butterflies are known for their large 10-centimetre wingspans. Their wings are typically orange with black veins and thick black edges spotted with white. They are sometimes confused with tiger swallowtails, which are yellow.
Monarch butterflies are almost never seen north of Lethbridge in Alberta, Acorn said, which was why he was surprised to see a pair of them fluttering overhead in Edmonton last Thursday.
“It was kind of like a dream,” he said — the last time he’d seen monarchs in Edmonton was in Grade 5. “To see two of them together just cruising along […] it was just fantastic.”
Sightings soon started pouring in to the Alberta Lepidopterist Guild from Edmonton, Westlock, Barrhead, Vegreville and more, Acorn said. He had not received reports from St. Albert, but strongly suspected they were here as well.
This was an unprecedented migration, Acorn said, one made even more unusual by the fact that the bugs have not been spotted at all in southern Alberta.
“They seemed to have just completely skipped Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.”
A few monarchs were spotted in Edmonton in 2009, he added, but it’s been decades since there’s been any large number of them.
Acorn suspects that recent strong winds from the south may have pushed these monarchs north to Edmonton. Butterflies in general have turned up in great numbers this year due to an unusually mild winter in the U.S., he added.
Bug-watchers should stake out local milkweed patches if they want to spot monarchs, Acorn said, as they lay their eggs almost exclusively on the plants. “Apparently they’re really going nuts for lilacs right now,” he added, noting that they would likely be drawn to any nectar-producing plant.