Restoring 71 is a perfect example of what can happen when nature is given a chance to manage itself with a little human encouragement. In a relatively short time, a natural grassland area near Saskatoon has been transforming itself back to its original state, and the previous wild inhabitants are returning in great numbers.
In the last six years, property owners Katie and Aaron Suek have enjoyed the positive changes happening in their backyard, and they want to share their unique educational and recreational resource as widely as possible.
The Suek’s have created a simple booking system for everyone and their (leashed) dog to make a reservation, so that they too can explore a rehabilitated prairie habitat with its ever-increasing collection of diverse wildlife, including rare birds like the whooping crane and the loggerhead shrike.
Our family recently enjoyed a two hour visit following a snowfall, and to our delight there were many different animal tracks left around and across the trails. My daughter noticed some teeny tiny prints leading into a small hole in the snow, and quickly exclaimed, “a mouse lives here!”. She proudly explained to her younger brother than mice live in burrows and one might be hiding in the ground below us. As we noticed more tracks, we talked about their different shapes and sizes, and compared them to our own hand prints – which of course led to making some snow angels as well. It was fun to share ideas about what kinds of animals had been here before us, and to imagine what they might have been doing. As the sun started to set, we watched our shadows stretch longer, and admired the vast horizon as it glowed vibrant shades of pink and orange. While warming up with hot cocoa in the parking lot, we could hear coyotes singing us a sweet farewell song.
Visiting Restoring 71
You must book a time to visit, check out their Facebook page for more details
Places like Restoring 71 offer young and old alike a chance to connect with nature and experience its many benefits, such as the thrill of spotting different native species throughout the seasons, or the boost in our health from some fresh air and physical activity. Perhaps after hiking along the trails, you’ll return home with a renewed appreciation for the impacts conservation and restoration efforts can have, and will consider trying some of the methods on display at Restoring 71 in your own backyard.
PS. The Saskatoon Public Library is partnering with Birds Canada to offer Birding Backpacks, complete with binoculars and books to help learn about ecology, biodiversity and the environment by observing birds and their habitat. I would recommend bringing this resource with you on your next adventure!
– Nikki Moggey