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Parts of Grande Prairie naturalization pilot area to be mowed this fall

Grande Prairie city council has approved mowing grass in parts of the Boulevard Naturalization Pilot Program area this fall. After discussion Tuesday, councillors agreed to have the naturalized area between the trail and the fence line along 84th Avenue, Mission Heights, and Resources Road in the Patterson area, along with the area north of Crystal Heights, up to the property line to be mowed.

Chief Operating Officer Brian Glavin explains that, along with mowing, crews will also be removing some of the trees popping up in these areas so they won’t establish in the area. This is in case council chooses to not continue the project after the three years are up.

“Part of the methodology was to not go in and re-seed with the native grasses or anything like that, which would have kind of accelerated as a pilot. We wanted to evaluate what it would look like, how the existing grasses competed for the first three years, so at the end of the three-year pilot if council so chose, we could revert back to mowing.”

“It doesn’t always look astatically pleasing off the start; we did certainly notice some of that this year as some of the native grasses try to overtake the non-native plants and vegetation in the area. It can take a little while for that to establish.”

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During Tuesday’s discussion, one of the topics brought up by council members was the fire risk these areas posed in the city.

“Regarding fire risk, there is another report that should be coming to council here in the next month or so from the fire department regarding FireSmart activities and one of the things that they are evaluating is what is the naturalization fire risk on the city.”

At the end of February, city council approved the pilot program for three areas in the community, including 116 Avenue near Copperwood, 84 Avenue near Canfor, and Resources Road. Glavin says one of the project’s intentions is to support the council with goals they have for the city to support pollinators, including bees.

“More naturalized areas mean more opportunities for bees to have the types of landscapes they need to thrive to provide pollen.”

The pilot program runs until the fall of 2025.

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