A new sign marking the J.J. Collett Natural Area. (Photo Submitted)

A new sign marking the J.J. Collett Natural Area. (Photo Submitted)

J.J. Collett natural area proceeding with projects

The nature area appeared on a list of parks and nature areas that were “underutilized” by UCP

By Kevin J Sabo

For the Lacombe Express

Not quite a year from the date they were supposed to receive information from the Government of Alberta, the foundation which looks after the J.J. Collett natural area has still heard nothing about the area being delisted.

The nature area appeared on a list of parks and nature areas that were “underutilized” and which the United Conservative Party were going to de-list. While hearing nothing officially from anyone in government, the J.J. Collett foundation is continuing their work in the area and are citing public outcry as the reason the government has stopped the de-listing.

“Our place was on the list of parks they wanted to deregulate,” said J.J. Collett Foundation President Jack Surbey.

“They wanted to come up with a solution to drop them from their system.”

Surbey continued that representatives from the Government of Alberta were supposed to send out a list of what to expect with the park de-listing by May 2020, a date which came and went with no new information.

“We were a little worried at the start, because we thought they might take the park away from our foundation,” said Surbey.

“That didn’t happen because of the pressure people put on. They backed off. They don’t really have much expense in our area because its money raised through donations.”

Minus a five-acre section where there used to be a residence, the J.J. Collett nature area sits on 640 acres of land between Lacombe and Ponoka and is looked after by the foundation.

“We’ve got lots of room for future trails,” said Surbey.

“(The area) is well used. It’s been well used during the pandemic since you can go out there and keep your distance.”

Over the years, the foundation has added and maintained trails through the area, as well as put up signs and conducted maintenance on the fences which border the land.

“We keep the trails mowed in the summertime, so they aren’t overgrown,” said Surbey.

The major project to be undertaken in 2021 is a 200-foot boardwalk over a marshy area which can’t be adequately mowed to maintain the trail due to wetness.

Funding for projects in the nature area come from donors who donate annually, fundraisers, the selling of foundation memberships, and Government of Alberta grants.

“If we’re building something, we usually try to get grant funding from the government,” said Surbey.

“They don’t want to give you money for maintenance, just projects.”