Nature walk showcases variety of nature right in Swift Current's backyard

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Scott Anderson
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A surprising diversity of plants, insects and birds were visible just brief minutes into a Swift Current nature walk on Saturday.

Nature walk showcases variety of nature right in Swift Current's backyard

A surprising diversity of plants, insects and birds were visible just brief minutes into a Swift Current nature walk on Saturday.

A group of 20 participants joined in for a 90 minute nature walk organized by the Swift Current Library and led by members of the Swift Current Naturalists Society.

Walk participants quickly caught five different types of bugs, identified four breeds of birds, and were overwhelmed by the variety of plants they were surrounded by.

"There's lots of neat things you can see just by taking a walk down the creek and through the park," explained walk leader Jackie Bolton. "We're so fortunate in Swift Current with our Chinook Pathway. You can walk and see so much. You don't have to leave the city to go and find a little nature and learn about nature."

The pathway also features Looman and Budd's Garden, a showcase plot which is helping preserve important plants from the prairie eco-system.

"It's a great resource we've got down the way with the horticultural native plant display and educating people about the value of our native prairie and our dwindling prairie resources."

"Our native prairies in Western Canada are truly one of the most threatened natural systems on the planet, and what's left is very fragmented. So invasive species are a huge concern," Bolton said.

"Unfortunately they're getting to be more and more of a problem. We were just discussing on the way back the Leafy spurge problems that are encroaching on the area, the Purple loosestrife is causing problems. We see things like Chickweed, and within the city here Scentless chamomile. One Scentless chamomile plant can produce up to 300,000 seeds, so it doesn't take long for these things to spread. The biggest problem is these invasive species displace our native plants and habitat unfortunately."

Despite the challenges, the walk was an important way to get more people interested in enjoying the outdoors.

"It's great to get people out and educate people about what's out there because it might just look like another pretty flower when in fact it's quite a threat to any given ecosystem... There's all these attractions out there in nature, and that's where we need our native habitat, to retain everything."

She admitted that summer is good time to look at this hobby which can be very time consuming.

"I think it's just important that we just take time out and educate people to what is out there, and the more people who learn to value nature, the more people want to protect nature."

Those who build their interest in nature during the summer can carry their enthusiasm over to the fall when the Swift Current Naturalists Club resumes meeting every second Tuesday of the month. Their meetings feature guest speakers covering a variety of topics.

Later this year Swift Current will be hosting Nature Saskatchewan's Fall Meet 2008 on Sept. 26 to 28.

Two full-day field trips are being planned. One will be a geological tour of southwestern Saskatchewan lead by Harold Steppuhn. The second field trip will focus on the Great Sand Hills.

Among their conference highlights are the Larry Morgotch Photography Competition, and the fall business meeting of Nature Saskatchewan.

sanderson@swbooster.com

Organizations: Swift Current Library, Swift Current Naturalists Society, Swift Current Naturalists Club

Geographic location: Swift Current, Western Canada, Southwestern Saskatchewan

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