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Parks Naturalization Pilot Project

Parks Naturalization Pilot Project creates partnership with University of Lethbridge applied studies for research and evaluation

In an effort to create sustainable parks and natural spaces, the City is partnering with the University of Lethbridge's Applied Studies program to pilot naturalization in three City spaces.

Naturalization is a type of habitat restoration that involves purposefully bringing native plants and grasses to an area so it reverts back to the natural landscape of the region.

"The benefit of naturalization is reducing water consumption, increasing native prairie plant populations and decreasing the amount of manicured grass space that requires weekly mowing and other special treatment," says Chris Witkowski, Parks Planning Manager.

"Naturalization is practiced in many large cities and it was a recommendation made by KPMG through the Fiscal and Operational Performance Review. We saw this as a great opportunity to pilot the recommendation on a small scale while working with the University Applied Studies Program to gain experience on researching and evaluating a local project."

 The three spaces around the city that have been chosen to be test plots for this program:

  • Redwood Park (northwest corner)
  • 28 Street North Green Strip (south of 7 Avenue North)
  • Mt. Blakiston Road West Green Strip (across from Mt. Crandell Park)

The sites were stripped of existing turf and seeded with a natural seed mix in July. Native seeds are a bit slower to germinate than traditional turf grasses, and as such, weeds are typically observed for several weeks. These weeds provide cover for the starting seeds, sheltering them from wind. Weeds will be controlled at appropriate times throughout the project while balancing new grass growth and establishment.

"This project will help us better understand how blend of seed, watering requirements, and methods of weed control can influence the successful establishment of native grasses in the City."  says Kirsten Hironaka, Applied Studies student, UofL.

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