SW AB wildlife corridor honours former Alberta premier
“Each time I return to the wilderness I feel like a child again,” former Alberta Premier and federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice once told delegates at the 2009 World Wilderness Congress in Medira, Mexico. “I feel smaller for having found my place in the immensity of creation. And yet, I feel larger as well, having escaped the crowds and the chaos of modern life.”
Prentice was remembered on Nov. 2 as a true lover of nature and someone who strived tirelessly throughout his life to preserve and protect the wild areas of both his home province and those of the rest of Canada as well.
Prentice’s widow Karen and other relatives were on hand at the Crowsnest Museum to lend their full support to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s newly dubbed Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor initiative in the Crowsnest Pass, the collection of small communities where Prentice as a teenager spent his formative years and first learned the value of hard work in the local coal mine. Prentice and three other men were killed in a plane crash in October 2016, but his family was gratified his legacy and name would live on through the NCC’s wildlife corridor.
“Jim loved nature, and he believed strongly in conservation,” said Mrs. Prentice in her remarks to those assembled at the museum to honour her late husband. “I immediately knew this is something Jim would want to see happen. When I shared the possibility of a Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor with our daughters and Jim’s sisters, they were equally enthused. Our entire family is behind this and is grateful to the NCC for steps they are taking to make it happen.”
The corridor is not a done deal yet, said the Nature Conservancy’s Alberta regional vice-president Bob Demulder, but with the Prentice family backing the project and the Province of Alberta donating $1 million in Prentice’s memory toward the $5 million needed to purchase the last piece of land to complete the corridor, Demulder felt it soon could be.
“We initially started buying land here under the auspices of trying to get this corridor assembled 15 years ago or more,” explained Demulder. “It’s difficult to raise the kind of capital that you need to buy land. Really, the two things that have kind of come together now with the Prentice family coming onside endorsing this, as well as the government, there is opportunities to purchase some of the land which is key to getting this done and securing the corridor.”
The next step, once those last few pieces of land are secured, is the construction of a wildlife crossing bridge over Highway 3, said Demulder.