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Last updateFri, 19 Oct 2018 4pm

Prussian carp prolific in Michichi Creek

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A local fisherman has grave concerns about invasive species that could potentially cause great harm to local waterways.

The Mail reported in its August 8 edition about crayfish and Prussian carp in the Red Deer River. Gregg Blanchett says there is carp in its tributaries and this could have serious consequences for the biodiversity in the river.

Blanchett is an avid outdoorsman, and in preparation for the ice fishing season, he will head upstream in Michichi Creek and catch minnows to freeze and use for bait.  A few years ago he noted a suspicious fish.

   “I have been catching minnows for a dozen years or so. About three years ago I noticed a couple of these Prussian carp in the net. I didn’t know what they were, I thought they were goldeye,” he tells The Mail. “Last year I caught less minnows, about half were these Prussian carp.”

   “This year I had the net in for 36 hours and I caught no minnows.  All I caught were Prussian carp in my net.”

Prussian carp have made their way into waterways in Alberta and Saskatchewan.They are hardy fish that can adapt to many different habitats and are a prolific breeder. They have the potential to outcompete native species for food and habitat.

  Blanchett says Michichi Creek starts at the McLaren Dam and eventually empties into the Red Deer River. Blanchett believes the fish probably originated in the Red Deer River, but entered the Michichi Creek to spawn.

“I fear that minnows are fairly nonexistent now,” he said. “Now what happens in the spring? You get tens of thousands of these washing into the Red Deer River,” he said.

He said he confirmed the fish by going to the game warden’s office.

“He said kill everyone you get. It’s too late for that now,” he said. “The day for fishing for minnows might be over.”

As an avid fisherman for many years, he has seen a lot of change in the Red Deer River. As a kid, he could catch minnows by the hundreds with a bit of dough. He suspects the introduction of invasive species coupled with heavy sediment that doesn’t provide healthy grounds for spawning could be the cause of dwindling stocks.

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Welcoming Program needs votes in Aviva Fund contest

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Drumheller Family and Community Support Services needs your help to secure funds for a Welcoming Program in Drumheller.

The program has been approved by the Aviva Community Fund, an organization which will donate $1 million to initiatives across Canada. The contest needs votes from people to secure a $10,000 prize to help start up the Welcoming Program in Drumheller.

“We want to provide a welcoming program to offer support to newcomers in Drumheller,” says FCSS coordinator April Harrison. “The need for this program was identified through the Social Needs Assessment. It will also be a great program for the economic development of our community.

Voting for the program has already begun and will end on October 4. Votes can be cast by searching for the program at www.avivacommunityfund.org

Attractions see strong summer tourism numbers

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After a record-shattering 2017 at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, this summer the museum continued to see strong attendance.

Last summer was the best ever for the Royal Tyrrell Museum, spurred along by its new exhibit  Grounds for Discovery, displaying the many Alberta fossil finds at industrial sites. This included extensive coverage of the display of the Borealopelta, one of the best preserved armored dinosaurs discovered.

This year the museum followed closely in those tracks.

“We are down only very slightly from last summer and definitely well over the five-year average,” says Elaine Secord, head of the marketing and public relations at the Tyrrell. “So it was a very strong summer, very well attended.”

In August alone, there was almost 122,000 visitations. From May to August, there were more than 335,000 visitors.

She adds there were very good participation numbers in the programming offered at the museum and the Science Camp continued to post excellent attendance.

Jessica Jeninga, director of visitor services at the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site says while their visitation was down a little bit, their revenues were up. Their results reflect their ability to target their audience.

“This year one of the big projects we have done is looking into who our demographics are and exactly what we can do to cater to that. Part of the reason I think we have been successful this summer is that the Atlas Coal Mine offers something a little bit different and it is more of an adventurous experience,” she said.

Through the Atlas’ research, they have learned their largest visitorship comes from adults or couples under the age of 65  without children.

“Not to pull any hot-button words, but for something like ‘millennials’ we know what they are looking for in tourism is something much more experiential, something that when they get there they feel like they are truly doing something special,” said Jeninga.

“More than a lot of other different museums or heritage sites, The Atlas Coal Mine, I believe really is special. People come, they go on an adventure, they wear the hat, they are underground and we focus a lot on the story telling which makes people truly feel the experience they are at.”

The Atlas is winding down for the season, although Jeninga notes this time of year they are seeing many international visitors.

“We are such an outdoor site that a lot of the site is  not accessible as soon as snow hits, so we are still aiming to do tours until thanksgiving long weekend and then after that, a visit by donation only,” said Jeninga.

The Tyrrell remains busy especially as construction continues on its expansion project that is expected to open next spring.

“The museum is a big economic driver in the mix of the cultural facilities run by the Alberta government and so this expansion that is being co-funded by the federal and provincial governments is just going to support and enhance the amenities we can offer to our visitors and enhance that experience even further,” said Secord.

The Tyrrell is making the transition into their fall season.

Fall programming is continuing for the public into the month of September and we are gearing up for the school program season and the camp-in programs start in October,” said Secord.


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