JJ COLLETT PROVINCIAL NATURAL AREA FOUNDATION
JJ Collett Provincial Natural Area Foundation located in rural central Alberta near the hamlet of Morningside, consists of 635 acres of Aspen Parkland underlain by ancient sand dunes. Over 18 km of maintained trails wind through a mosaic of shrub lands, aspen groves, stands of white spruce on moist shady hillsides, wetlands and grassy meadows typical of the area. The JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation was established in 1985, as a provincial volunteer steward group to help preserve, maintain and provide environmental education for this ecologically diverse habitat. This becomes increasingly important because of JJ Collett’s proximity to Highway #2, one of the fastest growing corridors in Western Canada.
Local organizations, schools, post secondary institutions, First Nations, and fitness groups are among those who use the area on a regular basis for studies, orienteering and field trips. The Foundation has developed and provides yearly a Grade 6 Environment Education Program based on the Grade 6 Alberta Science Curriculum for over 450 students from schools in our area. Instructors provide an in classroom session followed by a fieldtrip to the area where students are helped with tree identification and discuss Environmental issues. The area is also used by the general public on a daily basis throughout the year. Summer weekends are busiest with about 250-300 users. In winter both walking and x-country trails are groomed for recreational use. We estimate annual use to be several thousand individuals, many who come to also exercise their dogs. The Foundation holds guided walks in the spring and fall and when available a rehabilitated bird from the Medicine River Wildlife Center is released in the area. Guest speakers at our annual meetings also provide educational opportunities for our members and the general public. We have established an endowment fund for future sustainability.
Yearly, the Foundation takes on a major enhancement project. In 2013 with $32,000 acquired through donations from corporations, local business, grants, and major sweat equity of its board members, a 212 foot boardwalk was completed across a sensitive wetland on one of the trails, providing both public and maintenance access to the area while protecting the wetland environment.
Please come and pay us a visit. It is truly one of Alberta’s natural area “Gems”.