Building capacity with Friends of Fish Creek Park
June 14, 2022
June 14, 2022
Stepping in to help when the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society ran into regulatory requirements they couldn’t address in-house
When the Friends of Fish Creek Park Society (FFCPS) encountered new provincial and federal wildlife regulations changing the reporting requirements related to managing invasive vegetation, they needed some help to become familiar with the regulations and how to appropriately respond. This is work they had not budgeted for, nor would they receive government support to fully cover the cost. So, Daniel Arndt, a wildlife biologist in our Calgary, Alberta office who has been volunteering with FFCPS for 15 years, brought the issue to his leadership to see if Stantec could help.
Located in Calgary, Alberta, Fish Creek Provincial Park is an urban park preserving the valley of Fish Creek, mostly in a natural, forested state. The park is a natural hub for recreation, with the Bow River bordering the east side, an artificial lake for swimming, and over 100 kilometres of trails. The FFCPS is a non-profit, volunteer society that delivers programs like trail maintenance, bird watching, watershed stewardship, and park tours throughout the year. The goal is to encourage appreciation of Alberta’s natural and cultural heritage through conservation, management, preservation, use, and enjoyment.
Daniel first became involved with FFCPS during his wildlife biology studies at the University of Calgary through his interest in observing red-sided and wandering garter snakes as they emerged from their hibernacula in the spring. His role at the park grew to include other activities such as leading birding walks to teach visitors about the diversity of wildlife, even within the city limits.
“Being involved with the work at Fish Creek Provincial Park in a professional capacity felt like a great opportunity to bring my experience in the park full circle. Aligning my work experience and my volunteer passions gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment,” says Daniel.
Through his work, Daniel is familiar with the regulations FFCPS needed help with. He was able to provide some direction, as well as a connection to Stantec for additional support. His business center leadership team was immediately supportive, seeing the value in providing our technical expertise to help the local community, and offered to become an official sponsor of the FFCPS vegetation management project in 2021. Regulations require that invasive vegetation be mitigated in the park, and also that a survey of migratory bird nesting sites be conducted prior to mitigation.
Aligning my work experience and my volunteer passions gave me an amazing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
One of Daniel’s colleagues, Natasha Loran, a hydrogeologist in our Calgary, Alberta office assembled a small team of biologists to visit the sites where vegetation management would occur. There, Natasha and her team surveyed the areas in question to look for any nests of migratory birds, before any removal of invasive vegetation could occur. This information allowed FFCPS to conduct their work as required. As a donation-in-kind, we provided the professional consultation and fieldwork support, so FFCPS did not have to undertake additional fundraising to cover it.
The project was a success and will hopefully lead to future support from Stantec. The plan is to build knowledge and capacity within the FFCPS in-house staff, to allow them to respond to the regulatory requirements more independently in the future, while expanding on their important vegetation management work.
“Taking on the planning and execution of expanding of our relatively small-scale invasive species weed pull program into a full-scale integrated management program meant that we had to lean on those with more experience and expertise than we had in-house,” says Shana Barbour, Social Enterprise & Stewardship Manager at FFCPS. “The contribution Stantec made by providing us with professional biologist fieldwork services meant that we could move into this new realm of work knowing we were fulfilling the associated wildlife legislation requirements and approaching them with the best of due diligence, while growing our own knowledge and skills along the way. This partnership has been a critical one, and we look forward to it continuing in the future.”