Knee-hill County cel­e­brates fu­ture of Horse­shoe Canyon

County makes im­prove­ments to at­trac­tion

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

Knee-hill County and its part­ners cel­e­brated a new chap­ter in Horse­shoe Canyon his­tory.

The County, along with neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, as well as Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom, Travel Al­berta, CN Eco-Con­nex­ions and Tree Canada were at the site to cel­e­brate the new di­rec­tion of the at­trac­tion.

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Knee-hill County pur­chased a large por­tion of Horse­shoe Canyon. It, along with the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada, own more than 400 acres of the site, which has be­come a large at­trac­tion. Knee-hill Reeve Bob Long re­ported that more than 150,000 peo­ple this year have stopped to take in the vista or go for a hike.

“We know the im­pact of tourism in this re­gion, we are just try­ing to take one lit­tle area of it and en­hance that ex­pe­ri­ence, and work from it,” said Long.

In the short time since the pur­chase, Knee-hill has made some im­prove­ments to the site. Long ex­plains the ma­jor con­cerns were safe ac­cess to the canyon for hik­ers and to re­duce ero­sion. To that end, they in­stalled a stair­way to make the de­scent into the canyon safer. They also made im­prove­ments to a few of the ini­tial paths and in­stalled plat­forms for view­points on the top of the canyon as well as a cou­ple within the canyon.

Long said the im­prove­ments are mod­est in or­der to pre­serve the vi­tal­ity of the canyon it­self. They are look­ing as a few more ameni­ties just off the park­ing area.

“The fi­nal plan is still to be de­vel­oped, but ini­tially we had to ad­dress ero­sion is­sues and the safety is­sue,” said Long. “It was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to get down in the val­ley, it wasn’t safe and most peo­ple com­ing don’t un­der­stand ben­tonite. When you step on it when it is wet, you get to the bot­tom of the canyon faster than you had planned!”

The project has the sup­port of a $25,000 grant, made pos­si­ble through the gen­eros­ity of CN Rail and its Eco-Con­nex­ions From the Ground Up pro­gram and its part­ners, Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom and Tree Canada.

“With the trees and do­na­tions from Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom and CN, there will be some fur­ther re­lax--

ation ar­eas in the top be­ing built with some benches and some trees planted in the lot area,” he said. “We are look­ing at the fu­ture, we are look­ing at lit­tle im­prove­ments, we don’t ever want to take away from the beauty of the site. How can you im­prove on the nat­u­ral beauty of it?”

Gen­er­a­tions have en­joyed Horse­shoe Canyon. Orig­i­nally, the land was pur­chased by the late Jack Lowen Se­nior in 1946 and was used as pas­ture on the up­per plateaus. The land was passed down through the gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily un­til July of this year when it was sold to Knee-hill. The County has an agree­ment to con­tinue the long-term stew­ard­ship and preser­va­tion the area and public ac­cess.

“The beauty speaks for it­self. The at­trac­tion is here, we just have to man­age it,” he said. Part­ners cut­ting the rib­bon at Horse­shoe Canyon in­clude (l-r) Cal Dal­las, se­nior de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Olds Col­lege, Marti Eberth of Travel Al­berta, Brent Kossey of CN, Knee-hill Reeve Bob Long, Shel- ley Groll-muss of Travel Al­berta, Berta Biggs of Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom and Bowen Klausen of Knee-hill County.

mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Knee­hill County pur­chased a large por­tion of Horse­shoe Canyon last July and sion to the iconic site. Last Fri­day, the County gath­ered with its part­ners to cel­have al­ready made some mi­nor ad­di­tions to im­prove safety and to pre­vent ero- ebrate the new own­er­ship and stew­ard­ship of the site.

mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

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