Environment File

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John E. Poole’s wetland trail is now officially complete.

Work on the John E. Poole Interpretive Wetland formally wrapped up last weekend. The million-dollar trail, first announced in 2009, has been under construction for the last eight months, and is expected to attract up to 1,500 students a year.

Crews cleaned up the last of their equipment on Monday, having installed all the signs and built the last bit of the path to make it a complete loop, said Dale Soetaert, project manager with Ducks Unlimited. The path has been open to visitors since August, but until recently ended abruptly in the middle of a marsh.

The 400-some-metre boardwalk runs through a large marsh just south of Riel Pond and is meant to teach people about the importance of wetlands. The marsh itself is currently home to diving coots, twittering sparrows, dancing dragonflies and swaying reeds.

St. Albert resident Mike Tansey was one of a number of people exploring the boardwalk last weekend.

“It’s a lovely place to walk,” he said, and he visited it regularly. “Even though it’s basically a slough … I find it very peaceful.”

This area was not actually a slough, according to the interpretive signs on the trail, as sloughs have far less emergent vegetation.

Dan Farr was checking out the trail’s bugs and birds with his family and a set of binoculars.

“I’m really happy it’s done,” he said of the trail. “I love this place.”

Plenty of cyclists were seen riding along the boardwalk last weekend, which, as Soetaert noted, was against the trail’s rules. It’s for foot traffic only. Ducks Unlimited might add bike racks to the trail at a later date.

The trail will likely host a few student tours this fall, Soetaert said, but won’t have an official opening until next spring.

The trail is located next to the Big Lake Environment Support Society’s observation platform. Call Soetaert at 780-930-1250 for any questions on the project.

City crews will be shovelling 40 tonnes this weekend as residents swarm the public works yard for some free compost.

The City of St. Albert is holding its twice-annual compost giveaway this Saturday. Residents can get two free sacks of compost — three if they bring a bag from a previous giveaway — if they go to the public works yard with proof that they live in St. Albert.

Crews will have 40 tonnes of the stuff to distribute, said Christian Benson, the city’s solid waste programs co-ordinator. He said it does go very quickly and there are usually long line-ups. This particular batch of compost is from the compost yard on Villeneuve Road; next year, the city should have compost from the green bin program.

The giveaway runs this Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the public works yard, located at 7 Chevigny Street. Call Benson at 780-418-6699 for details.

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St. Albert Gazette

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