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Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation receives Emerald Award for land conservation

For the first time in its decade-long history, the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (GRPF) in west Rocky View County has been recognized with an Emerald Award.

For the first time in its decade-long history, the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (GRPF) in west Rocky View County has been recognized with an Emerald Award.

GRPF received the Emerald Award for Land Conservation on June 1, during a virtually held ceremony.

“It’s a huge honour to win an Emerald Award and it’s particularly special this year, because we’re celebrating 10 years of working here at the park,” GRPF Executive Director Sarah Parker said. “It was a really timely honour.”

GRPF formed with the mandate of overseeing and preserving Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, a large grasslands park located just southeast of Cochrane. The non-profit organization also provides educational programming to teach students and the public about the park’s ecology.

According to Parker, the Emerald Awards Foundation (EAF) celebrates the environmental achievements of people, businesses and organizations. This year marked the awards' 29th year.

As a recipient of an Emerald Award, GRFP will receive a $2,000 grant to support the continuation of its conservation efforts, a feature on the EAF's website and a certificate that commemorates the achievement. GRPF will also be profiled in a documentary series, podcast and speaker series put on by EAF.

Parker added land conservation was a new category for the Emerald Awards this year, and she felt GRPF’s mission of preserving Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park and educating the public about its fragile ecosystems made the foundation a natural fit for the inaugural award.

“Our foundation played a pivotal role in developing this park, and the whole point of this provincial park is conserving native prairie grasslands – which are a highly disappearing ecosystem, particularly in Canada,” she said. “Ever since the beginning, everything we’ve done has been focused on protecting these grasslands.”

To fulfil its educational mandate, the foundation offers tours of the park, as well as summer camps and presentations from experts, among other programs.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen thousands and thousands of students, as well as adults and families who have come through our programming, whether it’s our Explore Grasslands school programming, guided nature walks or golf cart tours that [teach] about the ecology of the park,” Parker said. “Everything we’ve done in terms of educational programming has been to create new stewards out of the Albertans who visit the park.”

Golf cart tours return

Another positive development at GRPF as the foundation heads into the summer months is the return of the foundation’s popular golf cart tours, which have been on hiatus since 2020 due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like everyone out there, we’re following AHS guidelines carefully,” Parker said. “We wanted to get these [tours] back as soon as we could. There are so many people who love this park, but the hilly terrain makes it hard for them to walk or cycle through it, and the golf cart tours allow people of all mobilities to see the park.”

The tours will be offered from Monday to Thursday at 10 a.m., which is when Parker says the park is at its quietest and tour groups are most likely to encounter wildlife. To help prevent the potential transmission of COVID-19, she added groups must be from the same family or cohort, with a maximum of four participants per cart.

“That being said, if there’s a family with more than four people, they can contact us and we will do our best to get a second golf cart out to accommodate everybody,” she said.

The tours cost $25 per participant and last two hours. People can sign up at, under the program drop-down. All revenues from the tours support the foundation.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

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