Reg Rempel was telling a story about the land and how areas of the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area had been cleared before Sandy Cross had purchased it to become a “Paradise Preserved”. He pointed to the top of the most prominent hill on the land saying, “I’d love to see trees back there one day and I’m sure Sandy would have too”. In that moment I immediately knew how that might just happen: “I think I know how we can make that happen”
The Calgary Junior Forest Warden Society (CJFWS, JFW) is a long-established volunteer group of parents and children dedicated to Forestry, Ecology, Outdoor Skills, Leadership. There are currently eight Calgary and Area Clubs with more within the Alberta Junior Forest Warden Association (AJFWA) provincial area and across Canada. Parents are encouraged to share their knowledge, provide resources and learn alongside their child. A love and respect of the natural environment is fostered while growing responsible leaders of the community.
Conrad Taylor, a former Junior Forest Warden (JFW), and Reg Rempel, Habitat Manager of the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA), saw an opportunity for a partnership between JFW and the ASCCA. The desire was to return the Forest to land logged in the 1940s and since used to graze cattle. This project will help restore the Pine Creek watershed. As a Conservation Area, this land will remain protected and preserved, not subject to development.
- With funding support of AJFWA, 81,500 seedlings have been planted since 2013.
- A combination of Lodgepole Pine, White Spruce and Douglas Fir have been planted.
- This diversity of species will help to establish a more fire resistant forest.
- The elk have returned to bed down among our 9 year old seedlings.
- The song birds are returning and spreading seeds to improve the diversity of the plants.
- Forbes and shrubs are out-competing the grasses.
- The constitution of the soil has changed.
- In 2020, a New Forest was started.
- A nearby nursery delivered seedlings grown from local seeds.
- Our seedling survival rate is better than professional planters, yet very dependent on the quality of the seedlings, the amount of rain that falls during the growing season, and the harshness of the winter.
A forest takes years to plan and establish. Our efforts are making an impact on the ASCCA. We are growing a forest!
In an effort to restore a healthy watershed and re-establish habitat for displaced wildlife, the south fork of Pine Creek on the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area is being reforested with the same species of trees that were logged in the 1940s. A team of 200+ Junior Forest Wardens participate in annual Spring tree planting on designated blocks of the ASCCA.
To date, 81,500 seedlings have been planted in the area.
Junior Forest Wardens is a youth group for families. They enjoy educational outdoor activities with like-minded families while learning about respectful use of the land. Every spring JFW plant seedlings all over Canada at locations designated by the Government. Sites were rarely revisited and the big picture impact was hard to see for parents and Wardens.
In 2012, a former JFW member, Conrad Taylor, started working at the ASCCA. He met Habitat Manager Reg Rempel who had a lofty desire to reforest land logged in the 1940s. An opportunity presented for the JFW and the Conservation Area to come together to recreate a Forest. Michelle Abbott, daughter of Ann Cross, was approached with the concept of families joining together on the Conservation land to plant seedlings. She was immediately supportive of the project and with Conrad, Reg and JFW Sandra Taylor began the ASCCA JFW Tree Planting Programme, now in its 10th year. Ann and Sandy would have been pleased as this project fits within the Guiding Principles of the Conservation Area. Seedlings are being planted. This forest will restore the watershed and provide habitat for wildlife while showing young Wardens the immense impact their yearly efforts will have.
JFW Tree Planting at ASCCA
81,500 seedlings planted June 2013 to June 2022
Year 1 2013 10,000
Year 2 2014 10,000
Year 3 2015 10,000
Year 4 2016 10,000
Year 5 2017 10,000
Year 6 2018 10,000
Year 7 2019 5,000*
Year 8 2020 1,500**
Year 9 2021 5,000**
The Junior Forest Wardens is an outdoor youth program with an emphasis on the family and the experience.
The program has four foundations:
Forestry Ecology Outdoor Skills Leadership
Families are given the opportunity to learn about the outdoors while participating in outdoor activities such as camping, backpacking, mountaineering, tree planting, community engagement and more. Young people aged 6-18 can register with a local club where they will enjoy age specific programming. Parents are encouraged to share their knowledge, provide resources and learn alongside their child. A love and respect of the natural environment is fostered while growing responsible leaders of the community.
For more information about current clubs, starting a club or about JFW, please contact the Alberta Junior Forest Wardens at www.AJFWA.ca.
Current Calgary and Area Clubs
Alberta Junior Forest Warden Association
Calgary Junior Forest Warden Society
Michelle Abbott & Catherine Abbott
ASCCA in conjunction with
McInnis & Holloway Memorial Forest
Odd Fellows and Rebekahs
artwork by Margery McBride Elliott
(provided with permission of the artist)
With thanks to Anna Aldridge/ASCCA and Jodi Henderson/JFW for creating this page – for telling the story of the
remarkable ASCCA/JFW Tree Planting Programme. Michelle Abbott