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Whitemud Park: A Virtual Tour of Edmonton’s Parks

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In our newest installment of our virtual guide to the city’s parks, we look towards Whitemud. Located to the south of the North Saskatchewan River near Fox Drive, it marks the start of a winding ravine of the same name. Since we’ve finally seen substantial snowfall, many of us will be no doubt looking for fun out on its toboggan hill. Whether or not you visit with a sled in hand, there are plenty of amenities to fill your December visit, including walking trails, the Alfred H. Savage Centre, and the neighbouring Fort Edmonton Park, John Janzen Nature Centre, and Whitemud Equine Stables.  Today, however, we’d like to direct you towards the creek.

The tributary ravine covers the length of southern Edmonton, spanning several of the city’s affluent neighbourhoods before it splits into two arms. It retains the Whitemud moniker to the east but takes on the name Blackmud Creek in the west. Whether you join the ravine at the mouth of the North Saskatchewan River or in the base of Blackmud Creek, any place along the ravine marks a secluded refuge from the city. It’s home to the largest diversity of animals in all of Edmonton, with as many as 150 species of birds nesting in the copse of trees lining its water.

Of course, the city has developed granular pathways to follow the ravine, so visitors can find their natural escape amongst the water with ease. These trails run from Fox Drive to Olgivie Ridge, after which they evolve into rough paths. Due to their proximity to the water, Whitemud’s trails are subject to damage caused by flooding and bank erosion. In fact, as of right now there are 3 notices alerting visitors of closed pathways, including a significant closure in the south near 9B Avenue and 119 Street.

Erosion has the power to reduce well-travelled areas of the city into potential health hazards, but its sphere of influence isn’t relegated to Edmonton’s ravines and river systems. While these waterways will naturally see more soil erosion than other places, it’s a phenomenon that affects every area of the city, including your home. Wind, rainfall, and runoff have the potential to cause erosion on your property.

While the trees dotting your yard act as natural barriers to the wind, they are still vulnerable to intense storms. Should enough abrasion and soil erosion occur, it can affect your trees ability to maintain strong roots in the ground — regardless of its size, health, or age.

In California, consistent rainfall during the month of February led to a Redwood lining a section of the US 101 Highway to fall. For anyone who’s made it out to the Golden State, the Redwoods are awesome in the true sense of the word, and they form some of the tallest and oldest forests in the country. Their towering peaks are complemented with extensive root systems that typically hold up well against all weather conditions. It just goes to show you how formidable unregulated erosion can be!

While the City of Edmonton is responsible for the upkeep of its numerous parks, you can spot the signs of erosion on your property by looking out for the following in your trees:

  • Exposed roots
  • Stunted growth
  • Concealed basal flare (the largest part of the tree trunk just above the roots)
  • Displaced soil.

If you see any of these issues on your property, it’s a good idea to call out one of our consultants to investigate the conditions of your yard. As an ISA-certified arborist, our crew can identify the source of your erosion and develop a plan that will protect your trees.

When aiming to prevent erosion, it’s a good rule of thumb to plant bushes and grass that can help limit the effects of wind. Proper fertilization is also a great way to counteract the effects of erosion. Compost and mulch are good layers to add around exposed tree roots. At this time of year, they play double duty: they create a stable environment and they protect against winter conditions. Now that the snow has fallen, it’s too late to add this layer; however, it, as well as our deep root fertilization system, is something to keep in mind for 2017. In the meantime, our consultation will ensure your trees are healthy enough to make it through the winter.

The winter can be rough, but it’s also a beautiful time of the year to experience your own yard and the many parks littering the city. Take the kids to the toboggan hill in Whitemud Park before exploring the ravine further south, and don’t forget to give us a call when you get home.