MRWCC Heritage Tree Program

Sandstone Ranch cottonwood trees designated the 2020 MRWCC Heritage Trees

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 MRWCC Heritage Tree designation goes to the Sandstone Ranch.

The Sandstone Ranch Conservation Property is situated within the Milk River Ridge and is rich with natural and cultural heritage. The ranch is jointly owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the Alberta Conservation Association and the Alberta Fish and Game Association. The project was established to protect a large contiguous tract of intact fescue grasslands, home to several species of rare and endangered animals, birds, and plants. Many natural features, including sandstone outcroppings, hoodoos and fossils, are also found in this region.

The property was homesteaded in the early 1900’s by the Leishman brothers who settled on either side of the North Milk River from one another. They planted Plains Cottonwood trees around their homesteads, which for the last century have provided shelter for the people and wildlife who have lived in the river bottom and continue to provide shade for livestock and visitors of the ranch.

The Cottonwood trees at the Sandstone Ranch are significant in providing habitat for so many creatures. In the prairies, nesting structures for birds are limited and therefore these trees are especially important. Since purchasing the ranch in 2008, NCC has recorded successful nests for: Bald Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Common Ravens, American Crows, and numerous songbirds all within the Sandstone Ranch trees. Other species observed utilizing the trees include: Sharp-tailed Grouse, Porcupine, Little Brown and Silver-haired Bats, and even the odd Yellow-bellied Marmot can be found in the deadfall.

We would like to thank the Sandstone Ranch management group: the Alberta Conservation Association, the Alberta Fish and Game Association, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, especially Leta Pezderic, the Natural Area Manager for the Prairie Grasslands for the article and spectacular photos.

The MRWCC initiated the Heritage tree program to allow residents of the Milk River watershed to celebrate the pioneering spirit of the community by identifying and nominating trees of local significance within the watershed.

The Heritage trees play a role in not only telling the stories of local history, but also play pivotal roles in providing habitat for many wildlife species, and stabilize fragile prairie soils in erosion prone areas.  

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MRWCC ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AWARD NOMINATIONS

Milk River Community Garden - 2020 Recipient of the MRWCC Environmental Stewardship Award     

Each year the Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) honours individuals, families, commercial businesses, and environmental groups that are good environmental stewards of the Milk River watershed. The purpose of this program is to demonstrate outstanding environmental and conservation efforts that sustain, protect, and enhance the environment within the Milk River watershed.

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 Recipient of the MRWCC Environmental Stewardship Award is the Milk River Community Garden. The garden was developed as part of a plan which involves the Tri-Community Pantry & Thrift Shop to ensure food security in the community. The project provides access to garden boxes for those without garden space and those wishing to experiment with raised bed gardening. Last year, in 2019 there were 18 boxes rented and the remaining boxes were filled and maintained by Elsie Fortin and Linda Cavanaugh. The community garden is operated as a not-for-profit and rental costs are kept to a minimum.

“The garden is truly a ‘community garden’ as donations from the Town of Milk River, local businesses and individuals have provided all materials and tools used to develop and maintain the garden. Thank you all for your generous support!  Our Garden is lovely and a prolific producer with an ideal growing location, lots of sunshine and some shelter from howling winds! Much food was grown and shared in the community.” Stated Linda Cavanaugh.

Linda went on to state that an added benefit has been the development of an “oasis of green” in the downtown where a vacant lot used to be. The garden space is enjoyed by many locals and tourists. There are benches, tables and it is a welcoming spot to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and birdsongs. If you are lucky you might find a delicious ripe strawberry.

The MRWCC wishes to thank and congratulate the Milk River Community Garden, especially Linda Cavanaugh for her role in this recognition and for supplying the article and garden photographs.

Photos below: Linda Cavanaugh receiving a sign on behalf of this year’s award recipient, the Milk River Community Garden.

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2021 Nominations

The The Milk River Watershed Council Canada (MRWCC) is looking for nominations to honour individuals, families, commercial businesses and environmental groups that are good environmental stewards of the Milk River watershed. Nominations are in the following

Categories:
Individual

Family

Commercial business

Environmental group

Nominate a deserving individual, family, commercial business or environmental group that has demonstrated outstanding environmental and conservation efforts to sustain, protect, and enhance the environment within the Milk River Watershed. Self nominations are welcome. 

Past Winners

 

MRWCC HERITAGE TREE AWARD NOMINATION 

In 2015 MRWCC launched a Heritage Tree Project. The goal of the project is to allow residents of the Milk River watershed to celebrate the pioneering spirit of the community by identifying and nominating trees of local significance within the watershed.

A Heritage Tree is a notable tree of its size, form, shape, beauty, age, rarity, significance or other distinctive features. It can be a living relic that displays evidence of significance in the community. Heritage Trees are native to the community and can be of any age (old or newly planted). Some examples of a Heritage Tree can be:

  • A prominent community landmark; a specimen associated with a historic person, place, event or period;
  • A representative of a farm or farmstead planted by ancestors within the community;
  • A tree associated with local folklore, myths, legends, or first nations traditions;
  • A tree that can be chosen to be planted in honour of a loved one that you will care for over the years;
  • Named in honour or tribute of a loved one

Identifying Heritage Trees will help ensure the sustainability of our riparian forests for future generations to enjoy. Trees play pivotal roles in providing habitat for many wildlife species, and stabilize fragile prairie soils in erosion prone areas.

Check out our past Heritage Trees

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