Cyclists, trail users to benefit from Evergreen Ridge improvements

·2 min read

A natural day-use recreation area near Evergreen Park will be enhanced to better accommodate pedestrians, on-leash dogs, cyclists and equestrians.

County of Grande Prairie council approved a management plan for the 99-acre area, christened Evergreen Ridge Recreation Area, during its regular meeting last week.

“Over the past year, people have been outdoors, recreating more,” said county reeve Leanne Beaupre.

“This (provides) another opportunity for people to get out and enjoy our natural backyards.”

Evergreen Ridge Recreation Area is located northeast of Evergreen Park and north of the Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS).

It is also near approximately a half-dozen residences in Pine Valley South subdivision to the south, she said.

Local people sometimes refer to the area as the “dog park” before the county named it Evergreen Ridge due to its proximity to Evergreen Park, according to administration.

The area is Crown land and is leased to the county under a 2018 agreement with Alberta Environment.

The natural trail network and sandy dunes are already used by pedestrians and dog-owners and PARDS members use trails as well, Beaupre said. The county means to maintain Evergreen Ridge as a “low-impact” recreational resource. It is not, said Beaupre, part of Evergreen Park.

Alberta Environment and Parks requested a management plan be developed. Beaupre added a plan can prevent conflicts between responsible users and others using the area for unpermitted fires or illegal dumping.

According to county communications, the plan as approved by council proposes infrastructure improvements to begin this spring.

The improvements include new signage and the addition of an information kiosk, as well as fencing around the area’s eastern boundary.

The kiosk will be unstaffed and will include more signage, and the information may include trail directions, Beaupre said.

The signage may also provide information about local animal species, as well as communicate pets must be kept on leashes, according to the plan.

Local wildlife includes mule deer, elk, moose, black bears, coyotes and smaller mammals, but due to heavy human use large animals aren’t common in the area, according to administration.

The parking lot is mainly sand, and the county may grade it and perhaps add a culvert as part of the improvements, according to the plan.

Funds of under $5,000 for Evergreen Ridge in the 2021 budget are expected, according to county parks and recreation.

Evergreen Ridge does not allow overnight stays, off-highway vehicles or unleashed pets, according to the county.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News