As a new way to engage people into real-time educational experiences, the Michichi boardwalk has now been approved.
The three phase project is set to begin in late fall with construction of the boardwalk to be closely monitored as not to disrupt too much of the surrounding environment.
“We’re going to have a bit of frost in the ground and that’s going to help a lot with the equipment going in and making ruts and stuff like that,” said Starland County Agricultural Fieldman Dara Kudras.
“There will be some damage but that is the price we have to pay to get this boardwalk in there.”
They have hired a company that has smaller equipment to cause a tinier carbon footprint.
“What we are aiming for is minimal disturbance just because it is a sensitive area,” said Kudras.
The project has three phases to smoothly add the boardwalk into the region as well as create a healthy riparian monitoring program and pond leveller.
The beaver dam which is built every year, is located where the spillway is. By springtime, the water level becomes too high causing the dam to break and the water to drain.
“If the beavers weren’t there building that dam, then all the water goes out and there is no habitat area,” said Kudras.
A pond leveLler is a large plastic tube that is put through the middle of the dam where a cage is placed on one end of the tube.
“It’s so the water can go through and the dam won’t blow out and the beavers won’t have to build so high either,” said Kudras. “It will allow water to go through without wrecking the dam.”
Instinctively, if the dam does happen to break, beavers will find trees to repair and rebuild. Instead of allowing them to take out new trees in the area, Kudras and her team have been gathering other already fallen branches or vegetation for the beavers to use.
“That’s part of the coexistence part of it that we want to be able to grow trees there and keep beavers happy at the same time,” said Kudras.
$12,000 of the grant is going towards signage along the boardwalk to help explain the usage of the pond leveller and other interesting facts about the riparian area and what it has to offer. Different types of birds and other animals will be on the signs as well.
Of the total budget, the largest cost of $80,000 will be going towards the actual construction of the boardwalk.
A 20-foot by 16-foot viewing deck area with seating and a gazebo close to the dam will be a special addition to the boardwalk with the possibility of up to two bridges depending on the budget.
“If local craftsman or local schools want to come and a have like a wetland field day and learn about the ecosystem in the area and stuff like that, then they can come out and use that,” said Kudras. “We’re just trying to make it really accessible for everybody.”
Starland County is putting $32,000 forward as the lead administrator and will be partnering up with the current landowner of the area as well as Cows & Fish and the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance.
After the project is finished, an established riparian monitoring program will be put in place, a pond leveller will be constructed and implemented, and the half kilometer long boardwalk will be complete.
A grand opening is expected to happen shortly after everything is in place.
Kudras plans to increase awareness and get help from local farmers to build up drought and flood resilience.
“This project is a cornerstone going into the future with the rest of the watershed resilience restoration program,” said Kurdas.