Written on May 3, 2019, by Heather McEachern
Today marked Alberta Wilderness Association’s (AWA) 28th Climb for Wilderness, where climbers, volunteers and supporters gathered to fill the stairwells of the Bow Tower and show their support for healthy living, family fun and conserving Alberta’s wilderness. Participants of all ages who climbed, in addition to generous supporters, made this year’s climb a success, reaffirming that Albertans care about protecting their wildlife, wild waters, and wild spaces.
AWA Executive Director Christyann Olson noted participants from every age and walk of life supported the event. “Some of our young climbers raised funds through bottle drives, social media posts, family and friends. More than one youngster told us they have climbed at this event every year, starting in a backpack with their parents. Abigail told us, “it is important to me that I can have places to hike, find hidden waterfalls and know that wildlife has a safe place to live.” An undeniably wise and inspiring role model is Dr. Richard Guy, who at 102 years young is a faithful supporter and climbed 15 flights (330 stairs). “From a child’s perceptions to a senior’s wisdom, we know caring for our wild spaces, wildlife habitat and the legacy we leave is vitally important. This event like so many Earth Day events is all about showing we care” said Olson.
Each year, AWA features one of Alberta’s iconic wildlife species to help tell the story of why protected habitat is important. This year, the Greater Sage-Grouse was chosen as the symbol to recognize the untiring dedication of so many individuals working to protect habitat and this endangered species and focus our thoughts on the need to increase the protection of Alberta’s grasslands wilderness.
More than 40 teams of climbers representing companies, families, and loved ones truly made today memorable with their joyous smiles, outlandish socks, costumes and words of encouragement. AWA is proud to have more than 100 volunteers to make the Climb for Wilderness a safe and successful event. With more than 850 people celebrating our tremendous natural resources, this day has been a tremendous success.
A day of celebration concluded, with close to 90,000 raised, we look forward to a year with even greater progress for protection of wild places and safe habitat and the chance to climb the stairs once more.
For more information:
Please contact our office at 403.283.2025
Written on April 18, 2019, by Heather McEachern
There are only ten days left until the Climb for Wilderness! Are you ready?
This is AWA’s big annual fundraising event and your support is vital for helping us advocate for the protection of wilderness and wildlife all year long. We appreciate each and every one of you and hope you will join us on this exciting day of fun.
You can still register on the day of the event, but be aware that there will be a $5 surcharge. Why not register before April 24 and be entered into our last giveaway for a chance to win an AWA hoodie?
Don’t delay and sign up today!
It’s a sure sign of spring when the beer truck comes!!! But in all seriousness, thanks to Steamwhistle for donating some great prizes. Check out all of our fabulous prizes here
Fitness with Smoky
Have you been following along with Smoky and Friends? Check out our weekly our social media to see how Smoky is getting ready for the Climb.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Sign up as a team: bring all your friends, co-workers or family (or all of the above). Don’t underestimate the power of friendship and the amazing memories you’ll make along the way.
Our t-shirts have arrived! This year’s shirt stars our featured wildlife, the Greater Sage-Grouse! Our VIP fundraisers receive the stunning gold shirts in recognition of their outstanding support.
Written on March 8, 2019, by Heather McEachern
Have you registered yet? There are less than two months until Climb Day and we have some great updates for you.
In March, our goal is to have 150 new registrations and we have an incentive or two if you haven’t registered already. By climbing, you help AWA push for greater protection of wilderness and wildlife in Alberta.
You will get great fundraising prizes this year. One prize, the top adult fundraiser gets Brooks running shoes from Gord’s Running Store! Check back often for new prizes being released.
Did You Know?
Greater Sage-Grouse are an impressive bird native to Alberta’s grasslands. In the spring they meet up on “leks” where the males dance to impress females as well as challenge rival males.
Check out this video to see and more importantly hear these incredible dancers.
However, the grasslands they live on are threatened and we want to be sure they have a place to dance. Sage-Grouse are endangered. We have chosen the Sage-Grouse to be our featured wildlife for this year’s Climb for Wilderness. Your support throughout the years has always been vital for AWA’s work. When you climb this year, you help to ensure Sage-Grouse have a place to dance.
As a thanks for your support we are doing weekly giveaways of AWA merch for those who register in March! Register soon to be included in this week’s draw for an AWA baseball cap on March 8th at noon.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on giveaways.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Sign up as a team: bring all your friends, co-workers or family (or all of the above) and work together to help protect wilderness and wildlife in Alberta
Written on January 31, 2019, by Joanna Skrajny
Now say that three times fast!
We are rolling out something new this year in hopes more kids will join the fun at the Climb for Wilderness.
Starting February 1, 2019 we are offering free registration to students in grade three who register alongside a parent or guardian. There are limited spots available, so sign up now!
We’ve lowered the fundraising minimum to $25 for children 15 and under to climb as many times as they would like! We hope that will help you bring your other children and their friends along too.
We have a number of exciting prizes for our top fundraisers in a number of age categories and everyone receives a t-shirt at check-in.
Prizes for the best youth fundraisers include adventures like Calaway Park passes to enjoy in and around Calgary. Keep an eye on our prize page for more announcements about great prizes we are confirming every day.
In order to redeem this promotion: we require an adult to register with the child. This deal is limited to the first 300 students in grade three to sign up, so don’t delay and register today!
We look forward to seeing all your smiling faces this year at the Climb for Wilderness!!
Written on January 24, 2019, by Joanna Skrajny
Hello and welcome back to the Climb for Wilderness! As we’re getting closer to the event, we have some news to share. Updated this year is a new discounted registration fee as well as a special rate for children under 15!
Get ready to climb all 1,204 stairs of the Bow tower to help support the protection of wilderness and wildlife in Alberta.
Welcome to the 2019 Climb!
Year in, year out it is your participation that makes C4W the success that it is. Climbing, volunteering, or spreading the word are all ways to help and we are always greatly appreciative of your hard work.
By participating in the climb, you support the Alberta Wilderness Association as they continue their work to advocate for wilderness and wildlife in Alberta.
Join the Conversation
Spread the word by visiting our social media pages! Follow us to keep updated, share photos, and learn fitness tips from our own Smoky the Bear!
Tell your Friends
The climb is even more fun with friends! You can join as a team and challenge each other as you (safely) race up the stairs. Signing up with family and friends can make this a great Saturday activity for everyone!
Register today for some great views for a great cause!
Updated this year: a lower minimum fundraising amount of $50 ($25 for ages 15 and under). Remember to sign up early to avoid extra fees on the day of!
Written on August 7, 2018, by Nathaniel Schmidt
Have you ever been out for a nice drive in, say, the Eastern Slopes, and as you turn a corner you’re suddenly met with the stare of a cow? Or, have you been out hiking and up pops a sign that says “Public Land Use Zone Boundary,” and you weren’t quite sure what to make of it? Maybe you’ve seen a map and wondered who owns all that empty space between provincial and national parks. What do all these things have in common? They’re all a part of our system of public lands, sometimes known as Crown lands.
Public lands have a complicated history in Alberta and play an important role in land use and management. Because our province has yet to create a cohesive policy document for these areas, they can become a complex issue. With a few of the basics though, things become a little easier to understand.
Public lands in our province are split between two areas: green (forested) and white (settled). Combined, they represent 60% of Alberta, not including federal areas like reservations, military lands, and national parks. Uses include livestock grazing, industrial activities, recreation, camping, and agriculture. Alberta has 19 Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs) covering 11,200 square kilometres. The rules for public use differ depending on whether the land is under lease, license, or neither.
Why should we care about public lands? Mainly because they’re a public asset and it’s up to us to determine how to use and protect them. After all, 60% is a big number and we should know what’s happening with them.
For years, the Alberta Wilderness Association has been asking for a protected areas network and public lands are a vital piece of this province-wide puzzle. Protected areas make up only 14.6% of Alberta and provincial parks account for a tiny 6.4% of this number while national parks make up the rest. What does this mean? Well, it means that within that 60% there’s a lot of unprotected, intact ecosystems that have a lot of value. Without proper rules and systems in place, they become vulnerable to all sorts of threats. As Albertans, these places are ours to explore, enjoy, and interact with wildlife and wildspaces.
Taking Action with Public Lands
The best thing we can do is educate ourselves about the land around us. By doing so, we become active participants in developing government policies and proper land management.
Some of you might remember the unprecedented move to sell 16,000 acres of public land to private interests known as “Potatogate.” Thankfully, this was stopped due to the efforts of concerned citizens but it highlights what could happen if we lose meaningful knowledge and don’t take action for what is ours. Consultation is important and it’s up to us to hold the government accountable in treating us as stakeholders.
In August, AWA is launching a campaign raising awareness about our public lands and wildspaces. Keep an eye our social media accounts to learn even more and in the meantime, watch our series of videos on YouTube. The more you know, the more you can do. And remember, if you missed our last C4W story, check out it here.
Written on June 21, 2018, by Nathaniel Schmidt
50 years is a long time and for AWA it has taken just that long to reach a milestone worth celebrating. Earlier last year, the Alberta government announced the creation of two new provincial parks protecting over 100,000 hectares of critical habitat. Those parks, the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park, are the focus of the second C4W Story, and we’re happy to say it’s good news.
A Part of our History
Since its founding in 1965 in Pincher Creek, AWA has made this area a priority. Known along with Waterton and Glacier Parks as the “Crown of the Continent,” Castle has immense ecological value. Now an area with some of the highest biodiversity in the province has the protection it needs.
The story of Castle Parks shows the value of consistent advocacy, which can take time and resources to get results. 2018 was the 27th Climb for Wilderness, a period of more than half of AWA’s existence. Because of your support, we are able to keep causes like this on the minds of Albertans and our government. This year the Climb raised nearly $100,000. With this story, you can see the result of your generosity.
The Value of the Castle
But why is it worth protecting these areas? Protection for the Castle means that critical habitat for threatened flora and fauna is safe. Fauna like grizzly bears, westslope cutthroat trout, and wolverines along with flora such as the limber and whitebark pines. The parks also provide valuable wildlife corridors, a key part of AWA’s activities. These corridors ensure that species can safely travel between areas like Glacier National Park to other parts of their habitat in the Castle. As the home of the Oldman and South Saskatchewan River basins, this area is also a critical part of our headwaters.
The Castle Parks are rich with life. Not only will their new status ensure they survive, but it also means that we get to enjoy them too. Low impact activities play a key role in the new parks and you can learn more about what they have to offer and the concerns that still exist. Castle now belongs to all of us and is ours to protect.
Written on May 10, 2018, by Nathaniel Schmidt
Caribou need our help and your Climb is playing a big role. Over the next few months, we’re going to point out some ways that Climb for Wilderness is helping to protect Alberta’s wildlife and wild spaces.
Woodland Caribou are a species that were once found in two-thirds of our province but are now at risk of extinction. If you’ve ever had a chance to see them in the wild you know what a sight they are. It would be a tragedy to lose them. In fact, the last herd found in the US by way of BC were recently declared effectively extinct. We can’t let this happen again.
In Alberta there are two species of Woodland Caribou, Mountain and Boreal. We’ve known for decades that over-development has been reducing their habitat to critical levels. Now we’re at a breaking point.
Caribou are iconic creatures and not just because we see them every day on our quarters. They call old growth forest and peat bogs home, eating lichen off trees and finding it through the snow pack during winter. For centuries, they were able to avoid predators due to their amazing adaptation to parts of the forest other prey like moose and deer avoid. But now, this balance has been disturbed.
Healthy Caribou Healthy Communities
We sometimes see habitat and industry as conflicting goals. But with some careful thought and planning, our economy and caribou can co-exist. Seismic line restoration is just one example of how we can create opportunities that benefit both. Companies like Cenovus are leading the way in showing how this is possible and many others are following suit.
By working with community and industry partners, we hope to build on efforts like this. Your climb helps seek solutions for a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
How to Help
If you’d like to do more visit caribou4ever, a website we created with our partners to highlight this special issue. You can send a letter here to ask for the protection of caribou and then share it with your friends to spread your impact further. Still have questions? Visit the Q&A section for some quick facts.
Written on April 21, 2018, by Nick Pink
Alberta Wilderness Association’s (AWA) 27th Climb for Wilderness once again exceeded expectations as climbers, volunteers, and supporters filled the stairwells of the iconic Bow Tower, courtesy of venue sponsor, Cenovus Energy Inc. Each step of the way, climbers showed support for wilderness and wildlife at the best Earth Day event in the west! More than 850 participants enjoyed the Earth Day fun.
Money raised for the event will power AWA’s efforts to inspire Albertans to care for and protect Alberta’s spectacular wildlife and wild spaces. Fundraising and donations are $92,000 and counting in support of AWA’s conservation work.
AWA Executive Director Christyann Olson shares her gratitude for every climber that came to the event today. “Earth Day, and this event, is so important because we see people from all ages and walks of life come together to support what we all have in common: our natural areas, wildlife habitat, and the legacy we leave for future generations. This event like so many Earth Day events is all about showing we care,” said Olson. “For 27 years we have depended on the untiring support of many; our 27th event t-shirt proudly recognizes both our corporate supporters as well as the endangered species we work to protect.”
“Whether it is families, or groups of friends, or teams of co-workers, it’s great to see people having fun with the unique challenge of climbing over 1200 stairs.” said Joanna Skrajny, AWA Conservation Specialist.
“The turnout and support is truly motivating,” said Nick Pink, AWA Conservation Specialist. “Many of the participants already know a lot about what we do at AWA but it’s also a great time to see some new faces and tell them a little bit about our work.”
Written on March 23, 2018, by Nathaniel Schmidt
Alberta’s Fish Story
In the first of our series about why we climb, we’re telling the story of Alberta’s freshwater fish. Whether it’s a summer day by the side of a river or at the lake waiting for that coveted tug on a fishing line, or the satisfaction of cooking a meal you caught yourself while on a camping trip, fish play a big role in our lives outdoors.
For the Alberta Wilderness Association, our native fish species are important for a few other reasons as well. They indicate the health of our watersheds, as one of the first signs of stress in an ecosystem. Because of this, their loss helps warn us of other problems. They’re also the building block of many watersheds, acting as both predator and prey in our rivers and lakes.
Who’s in trouble?
When we think about Alberta’s wilderness, species at risk aren’t often the first things that come to mind. Instead, we tend to think of wide open spaces, endless trees, or an abundance of wildlife. Alberta’s fish tell a different story.
You might remember the critical situation facing Westslope Cutthroat Trout this past summer in Alberta. Already under stress from population loss, this species was pushed to the brink by extreme drought. As it turns out, this is only one part of a bigger story for our native fish species. Upwards of 10 species in Alberta are threatened and we need to take action to help them survive.
Under the surface, species are suffering because of habitat loss, over-fishing, and development. For example, did you know that Alberta is home to a distinct species of Rainbow Trout known as the Athabasca Rainbow Trout? The population is steadily decreasing and as a result it’s now endangered. As one of the few native Rainbow Trout species left in North America it’s a valuable link to our past. Other well known species like Bull Trout, Rocky Mountain Sculpin, Arctic Grayling, and Lake Sturgeon are also at risk of being lost forever.
What happens when you climb?
Thanks to efforts by the Alberta Wilderness Association and other conservation groups, steps are being taken to help ensure the survival of our native fish. When you Climb for Wilderness, you’re not only helping to give us the resources to continue these efforts but you’re also bringing visibility to these causes. On April 21st you’re not just Climbing for fun, you’re climbing for a cause as well. Register now and help our keep our fish swimming!
Learn more about Cutthroat Trout Here: albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlife/cutthroat-trout/
Learn more about species at risk here: albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlife/species-at-risk/