A partnership between the County of Grande Prairie and Camp Tamarack is planned to turn a 312-acre piece of property into an urban wilderness. According to a release from the county the land, which is adjacent to the north and east sides of the property the camp is currently leasing, will be managed mostly by the camp with the county taking care of the far north section. The portion of the expanded area managed by the county will be called Tamarac Recreation Area.
Vice President for the non-profit organization Ken Belke says the concept of the urban wilderness is similar to that of Stanley Park in Vancouver or Central Park in New York City.
“We approached the county and province, and talked about expanding our [Camp Tamarak] lease, and out of that came this partnership between the county and us,” Belke says. “It is going to make some great opportunities for both the camp to bring in some new programs and the county to do some neat things in the near future.”
Belke explains some of the benefits the region will see with the expansion is the abuse the area sees will be addressed; including concerns such as trash being dumped in the area, squatters and illegal activity. He adds the property lease is for 25 years, which allows the camp to plan for the future.
“We have been doing a lot of outdoor education stuff between schools and youth groups in the fall and summer, and now we have the confidence the land mass is there and it is secure, and we can bring in more groups from different areas and help the youth connect with nature, learn how to be in nature and safe in nature.”
Belke adds one of the things he believes the land expansion will make possible, is more winter camping. He explains this will allow schools from outlying areas to come to the camp, stay the night, do some programming and even can take part in other events happening in the area. Belke says while they have had some groups do this already, the land expansion will give more groups the opportunity.