St. Albert woman donates forest to land trust
Boisvert's GreenWoods open to all
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 06:00 am
Alberta residents can now explore an 80-acre wood just north of Morinville thanks to a donation from a St. Albert businesswoman.
The Edmonton and Area Land Trust announced last week that it had received a donation of 80 acres of land from St. Albert resident Halina Boisvert.
The site, dubbed Boisvert’s GreenWoods, will now be conserved in perpetuity by the land trust and is open to the public for recreational use.
The donation actually happened last April, explained Pam Wight, executive director of the land trust. This is the sixth site that the trust has agreed to manage.
“A completely wooded area is a really valuable asset in Sturgeon County,” she said, as such sites are few and far between.
Wight said this site should provide habitat for many birds and animals and serve as part of a conservation corridor that leads to Manawan Lake – a recognized Important Bird Area.
“We hope people will really enjoy it.”
Bernard’s green dream
Boisvert’s GreenWoods is a large patch of mixed forest north of Township Road 564 and west of Rural Route 250. The site is just a few minutes north of Morinville and east of Manawan Lake.
A property manager in St. Albert, Boisvert said she decided to donate this land in honour of her husband of 37 years, Bernard, who died in 2009 at age 60. Bernard worked for many years as a veterinarian at the Mission Ridge Animal Hospital.
Boisvert said the two of them bought this property back in 1988 with plans to build a home on it. When that idea fell through, they decided to keep the site as a countryside retreat.
“It’s a place of peace and contemplation,” Boisvert said, one that played host to many birthdays and ice-fishing expeditions over the years.
“It’s a place I’d like to share with people.”
Bernard was a conservationist and was concerned by the expropriation of natural spaces he saw around him, Boisvert said.
“People need places like this to go to and contemplate, to commune with nature,” she said.
Bernard visited this place many times over the years, often with friends in tow.
Bernard saw that there was a lot of wildlife on this site, and told Boisvert that they should turn it over to a conservancy at some point.
After Bernard died, Boisvert said she met with the Edmonton land trust and decided it was the best group for the job.
The site itself is 80 acres of poplar forest that’s mostly untouched apart from a path to a small pond, Boisvert said.
Land trust officials are still surveying the site, but have confirmed that it is home to wood frogs, moose, deer, pileated woodpeckers, flycatchers, sparrows, waxwings and great blue herons, Wight said.
“It really is an oasis of woods in an agricultural region.”
Boisvert said she has many fond memories of family outings at this site, including one memorable encounter with a stealthy moose.
“I walked in and I saw one moose standing at the end of a pathway by the pond,” she recalled.
Moments later, a second one arrived and a third one stood up. All three then ambled off into the bush and vanished within seconds.
“It really amazed me.”
Trust officials are now working on a conservation plan for the site, and (pending grants) will likely add some trails and signs to it, Wight said.
The site currently has no facilities or signage – there’s still a “No Trespassing” sign on the front gate – but it’s open to the public, Wight said.
Hunting, camping, littering and harvesting/destroying any plants, animals or minerals are forbidden on site, as are campfires, mountain bikes and motorized vehicles.
Boisvert said she was very pleased to make this donation.
“It gives me a lot of joy, and it would have given my husband a huge amount of joy.”