Over the years, during countless runs and walks along the Town Trail system next to Maxwell Lake in Hinton, Alberta, West Fraser’s Chief Biologist, Dr. Rick Bonar thought about building an elevated boardwalk around the wetland complex that drains out of the Lake for everyone to enjoy.
Rick approached the Town of Hinton to gain approval to lay out and construct a section of boardwalk around the wetland. Construction happened over the winter in the ice and snow so there was no damage to the ecosystem.
Over three winters, the boardwalk expanded into three kilometers of elevated boardwalk through wetland, lakeshore, stream and forest habitats. Bonar notes, “this incredibly diverse, interesting and well-used ecosystem complete with beavers, muskrats, all sorts of birds and even fish was on our back doorstop. However, it couldn’t really be appreciated because there was no easy access to it.”
“It’s sometimes hard for me to believe just how popular this boardwalk has become,” says Rick. “On any given spring or summer night, the boardwalk is extremely well-used by Hinton residents and it is gaining a reputation with visitors as well.”
Funding and support for the project came from many organizations including West Fraser and the Town of Hinton. Labour to build the boardwalk was provided by volunteers, and Rick as the coordinator, major builder and cheerleader for the project.
Rick continues to be dedicated to the Beaver Boardwalk project. He collects young aspen trees from the Company’s road system to feed “his” beavers two to three times a week in the summer. This keeps the beaver population healthy and reduces the likelihood of the beavers roaming too far and cutting down other trees in the area. You can catch up with Rick on his Beaver Boardwalk blog.
The Beaver Boardwalk is one of the longest elevated nature boardwalks in Canada. Visit the Town of Hinton website to access bird watching tips, maps, photos and directions.