Thursday 28 November 2013

Pine Cree Regional Park

In the Cypress Hills, just 13 kilometres from Eastend, lies Pine Cree Regional Park. It’s a small, natural park featuring “old time quiet starry nights, watchable wildlife, wildflowers galore, fishing, and hiking.” Swift Current Creek runs through the site, providing clear, cold running water all year long.

The park was initially developed by Everett Baker, a Saskatchewan naturalist, historian, and photographer. In 1970, Pine Cree became a regional park, commemorating the memory of Everett Baker and John Macoun, a member of the Canadian Geological Survey who camped in the area in the 1880s.

There are three self-guided trails through the park that can be booked through the park officer. One trail takes you up to the highest point in the park where you will discover teepee rings, while another leads you up above the Hermit’s Cave. All three trails are described in Robin and Arlene Karpan’s book, Saskatchewan’s Best Hikes and Nature Walks.

EcoFriendly Action Grant
In June, the park applied for an EcoFriendly Action Grant to help clean up a portion of the creek. A 1980s fish enhancement project had used long spikes and stems of rebar to attach treated timber and long planks to the banks of the creek. Over time, the timber and planks had worked loose, causing jamming and bank destruction and exposing pointed segments of rebar.

Thanks to a $500 grant from EcoFriendly Sask, the park hired Darcy French to remove the timber. Joan Hodgins, the Parks Officer, says, “The work was arduous manual labour, requiring the use of a chain saw, bow saw, crowbars, sledge hammers, axes and hours of work in the cold waters of the spring-fed creek. The portion that was the focus this year was at the north end of the campground, where the fishing is popular, and had no access to the road, so everything had to be carried out to the truck to be disposed.”

Darcy spent 40 hours on the project and was helped on his last day by Riley, a volunteer, and Ashley, a staff person.

Joan goes on to say, “Thank you so much for allotting us the grant money. The Pine Cree Regional Park Authority truly appreciated it and put it to very good use. This project would not have been done without your contribution. The campers and the wildlife have a safer environment.”

Swift Current Creek
Brittney Hoemsen, TRoutreach Saskatchewan’s Project Coordinator, is very familiar with the park. She says, “It's an amazing park. We started sampling it only because it was so pretty there but what we found kept us coming back! It's a small creek with cold (around 4 degrees average all year), clear running water, which is fairly rare in Saskatchewan. It therefore supports many insects that aren't found anywhere else! We found a new species of midge (Odontomesa fulva) that isn't found anywhere else in Saskatchewan. We also found a caddisfly family, Neophylax splendens, which is new to Saskatchewan.

"These organisms are very sensitive to human pollution so they can only be found in places with excellent water quality and healthy stream banks, such as Pine Cree Creek. It's important that we maintain the pristine areas when we can so I really appreciate you supporting this project!!”

Additional information:
Pine Cree Regional Park website
TRoutreach Saskatchewan’s Facebook page
Friends of Pine Cree Park Facebook page
Everett Baker’s Saskatchewan: Portraits of an Era by Bill Waiser (a compilation of Baker’s photographs of Saskatchewan in the mid-twentieth century)
Eastend Hiking & Driving Tours (Auto Tour #2 takes you through the park)

Photo Credits: First photo provided by TRoutreach Saskatchewan; other photos provided by Pine Cree Regional Park