About Us


Posted by: Anna

2016 started winter a little bit (too) cold for comfort, with bitter chills and icy roads. For several weeks enchanting hoarfrost clung to swatches of grass and tree branches, making it feel a bit like living inside of a snow-globe. December saw a smattering of snow, which was a welcome change from the brown palette we see after autumn leaves have fallen. It wasn't until January when we saw real snow at the ASCCA. The cold had yet to subside, which meant the snow caught in the trees wouldn't melt until an eventual chinook. We were gifted with some of the most magical sights that nature has to offer this time of year, worth braving a few minutes cold for a few remarkable photos. With warmer weather on the horizon, the snowy grasslands and blanketed forests have begun to melt, and children are enjoying the sights and sounds that the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area has to offer. You can almost sense the approach of spring.

But let's not forget, it's not yet February, and this is Canada!

(photos: Anna Aldridge, December 2016 - January 2017)


Posted by: Anna

"When we hear the word conservation, we usually imagine other people involved in organizations trying to protect something that needs protecting.  We rarely see it as a word that applies to us as individuals within our own communities.  We rarely take ownership of this word.  It is better left to those who know more than we do.

Conservation more than anything means realizing that the earth, and all its land, living creatures and plant-life, are NOT commodities that belong to humans, but rather vital components of a community to which we all belong.  We cannot survive on this planet without a healthy land beneath our feet, and without the biodiversity of life that lives upon it.  Conservation means recognizing that all of our day-to-day actions and decisions impact the health of our natural world, and that by choosing and acting differently, and more conscientiously, we can both conserve and revitalize.

Conservation is an internal mind-set as well as an external action.  We must start recognizing that a healthy wilderness, abundant species, and respected resources are imperative to sustainable life on earth.  Nothing else we do or dream about or create will matter if we do not have a planet on which to live. 

Conservation means you and I and every other person on this planet taking positive, responsible action to ensure that this planet continues to live, so that we can live upon it.

Conservation means life."

- Jennifer Clark

Jennifer has enjoyed visiting the ASCCA on hikes and for programs with her son, and hopes to encourage others to appreciate nature.

Posted by: Anna

This week, I once again ventured out into the great beautiful land of ASCCA with a group of our steward volunteers for their weekly nature survey. I was amazed at the rich natural beauty around me, several times having to stop to take it all in. I made a comment that the aspen trees must be preparing for Halloween, with their striking orange leaves and black bark. This time, our group was smaller, being composed of skilled hiking lead Bev Lane, the eager and inspiring Ing-Britt Renborg, the insightful and enthusiastic Linda Blasetti and the seasoned outdoors (wo)man, Martha Clarke.

I of course had to learn the non-technical name for black knot fungus (poop on a stick) and was surprised to see purple showy fleabane in bloom among the prairie grasses. We were extremely lucky and saw a young male moose, bounding away from us when we startled it upon cresting a hill. A 'small rodent' crossed my path, luckily avoiding being stepped on. Continuing on my path, as the volunteer coordinator at the ASCCA, I will continue to be energized by the whimsy, change and strength of boundless nature.

A very happy and healthy thanks-giving to you and yours.

Anna Aldridge
Communications and Volunteer Coordinator
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area

Posted by: Anna

Yesterday, I experienced what I can only describe as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, joining a small group of ASCCA's dedicated volunteers on their weekly hike and nature survey. Bev Lane and Ing-Britt Renborg, along with Ursula Wiese, Peggy and Chris Mills and Mal and Linda Blasetti all impressed me with their knowledge of the land. We all started out from Belvedere House on what would be about a 7 km trip around the conservation area. We traveled along the trails some, where the volunteers pointed out native flowers, grasses and even invasive 'noxious' weeds such as pesky burdock and yellow toadflax (aka butter and eggs).

Before stopping for lunch, we headed carefully down the grown-over Pine Creek Trail, which has been closed some years for habitat restoration. There was some excitement when our group happened upon an elusive owl, though it was hiding a bit too well for me to see. Following lunch in a secluded clearing, the most enjoyable part of the hike for me was heading down an old rancher's path close to Paradise Trail, lined by thick aspen forest. I felt transfixed and transported to a separate magical world with its own time and space.

I will always treasure my day spent with ASCCA's volunteers and their infectious love and enthusiasm for nature, and our need to watch over and protect it. 

Anna Aldridge
​Communications & Volunteer Coordinator
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area

Posted by: Anna

Last week, I experienced hands-on the some of the important work we're doing at ASCCA to restore and protect natural habitats. A few years back, in partnership with The Carbon Farmer, we began an initiative to plan 1 million trees, shrubs and native grasses on select portions of the conservation area. On August 19, I had the privilege of joining Brad Rabiey at the south-west corner of our land to plant a few lodgepole pine saplings. UPS Canada has been a valuable partner in turning our ambitious dream into a reality, and two of their staff came along to plant trees and be part of what will be a lasting legacy on the land.

Anna Aldridge
​Communications & Volunteer Coordinator
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area


Posted by: Anna

We love our volunteers! Long time volunteer Dick Choy, who works on special projects and does land maintenence with our habitat manager Reg Rempel recently shared some of his stunning photography with us. Take some time to scroll through this short gallery of his photos taken this week (August 16, 2016).

Also, make sure to share your own nature photos with us!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @ASCConservation.

From top -

1. Wasp nest

2. White-tailed deer skull

3. Combtooth fungi (grows on aspen logs in moist areas)

4. Coral fungi (grows on coniferous forest floor)

Posted by: Anna

This past Saturday (July 23) we hosted a successful educational event, Old Tales about Red-tales with a presentation from Brian Sevick, a dedicated academic who spent thousands of hours on our land researching the behavior and habits of Red-Tailed Hawks for his research thesis. Brian enthralled a full-house at the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, delighting us with tales of his tremendous knowledge and insight into such a fascinating species.

Brian's presentation was followed by a lovely hike down to Pine Creek Lookout to do some hawk-spotting. It was a warm and sunny afternoon and the hike was enjoyed by all. We were even able to see a few hawks in flight and perched in the treetops (bringing scopes and binoculars aided us in this quite a bit!). We would like to thank everyone who came out to make this event such a success and fantastic learning experience.

For now, enjoy happy trails and stay tuned for ASCCA's next event!

Posted by: Anna

This week, (July 20), our lovely volunteers completed their latest nature survey at the Cross. I'm hoping to accompany them next week. It's a fantastic time of year for spotting flora and fauna in the area; flowers are blooming, deer and elk are roaming, and saskatoon berries are ripe for the picking (though we leave them for the animals).

Peggy & Chris Mills, Linda & Mal Blasetti, Martha Clarke, Ing-Britt Renborg, Dick Choy and Bev Lane found some rather exotic-looking thistles. I was amazed to see the bright colours from the photos that were sent; it looked like something from the Amazon rainforest!

If you have yet to visit us, July and August are ideal times to book a hike.

Posted by: Anna

To the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, all living creatures are number one. Bears, deer, hawks and cougars, and yes … even caterpillars. Bats are especially included on this list. These mammals given the power of flight can eat up to 600 insects per hour (including mosquitos), making them one of our best friends. No picking favourites though!

On May 26, Evergreen, HSBC, Calgary Quest School and ASCCA set out on a mission to build bat boxes. The day started out sunny with a fresh morning dew scent to in the air. The bees were humming, the birds singing and vans and cars were pulling up full of exhilarated kids and volunteers. After we all got to know each other, tasks were assigned and people got organized and ready to go. The bat boxes had three layers of wood, giving the bats two roosting areas, breathing holes and inside entrances … what luxury! The day went smoothly and by the end we had them all built.

On June 22, two Cross Conservation employees headed out to the Calgary Quest School to paint the bat boxes black. The Calgary Quest school Green room students did an amazing job once again, and now the bats will be plenty warm in their new homes. We’ve installed two little suggestion slots at the bottom of the boxes and are expected to get feedback from the bats once they are up. ASCCA would like to thank Evergreen, HSBC volunteers, our volunteers Catherine, Diane, Jocelyn, Barry, and the Calgary Quest School for a job well done. Great work!

- Zachary (Education Summer Student, ASCCA)

Posted by: Anna

This week, a group of our dedicated volunteers took a hike on our land near the old Pine Creek Trail to do a survey of some of the diverse flora and fauna at the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area. Summer has arrived, meaning that our volunteers were able to spot some beautiful flowers, some purple round-leafed orchid and some little white one-flowered wintergreen (pictured below). Volunteers were also able to see quite a few species of birds and insects, including the tiger swallowtail butterfly, whitetail deer and mountain bluebird!

Special thanks to Peggy & Chris Mills, Linda & Mal Blasetti, Ing-Britt Renborg and Bev Lane for your detailed nature survey, we hope you enjoy hiking at ASCCA all year long!

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area wildlife + plants

Achillea millefolium
Soft, woolly, grayish to blue-green leaves that alternate.  They are finely divided and looks almost like a fern.  Flowers grown in dense clusters at the top of the plant.  5 to 12 florets per flower, white or crem with straw colored central disk.
Click on Area Plants
to find out more.
Click on Area Wildlife
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