On August 20, over 100 guests and VIPs were on site as the University of Alberta opened a brand new research station in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. The project involved over $300,000 in funding from a number of community partners including the University of Alberta, Alberta Parks, Camrose County, Beaver County, the Camrose and District Fish and Game Association, and the Beaver Hills Initiative, as well as generous philanthropic support from committed donors to the Project and Augustana Campus.
Four years ago, in his first week as Dean at Augustana, Dr. Allen Berger visited Miquelon Lake with professors Lars Hallstrom, Glen Hvenegaard, Glynnis Hood and Jonathan Mohr.
“Their goal was to show the new Dean the site for a research station, to introduce him to the Parks staff, and to sell him on a vision for Augustana’s engagement with Alberta Parks” Berger said. “With no disrespect to my faculty colleagues, but the vision sold itself.” The initiative included undergraduate research, interdisciplinary education, and collaboration with several research and funding partners to help address sustainability and rural issues.
Invited to bring greetings from the Government of Alberta, MLA Bruce Hinkley (Wetaskiwin-Camrose) was impressed with the collaboration, dedication and commitment that made the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station (AMLRS) a reality.
“Provincial parks are well suited to support science and research,” said Hinkley. “The research that happens here will ultimately assist in the protection, the preservation, and the planning of our natural areas. The new facility will also bolster the tremendous expertise and research opportunities for students and the faculty at Augustana.”
“Alberta’s parks and protected areas system has some of the most incredible places in the world,” agreed Parks Division Assistant Deputy Minister Graham Statt. “We can all be proud of our system as Albertans. And what better place to build a research facility? In many respects, parks and protected areas are a natural laboratory. It is through partnership that we got here, and it is through partnership that we will continue to move forward to ensure this station is successful.”
“Alberta Parks has a science strategy and this station is in perfect alignment with our goals,” Statt continued. “We desire to see evidence-based decision making throughout our parks and protected areas, and the research conducted here will help guide our decisions in the future.”
Located only 30 km north of Camrose at the southern end of the Cooking Lake Moraine (also known as the Beaver Hills), Miquelon Lake Provincial Park is a prime location for Augustana’s new station. The area has a unique ecosystem that links the prairies and parkland to the south with the boreal forests to the north. This ecosystem, coupled with a rich mosaic of urban, rural, and historic social influences, makes Miquelon an outstanding setting to accomplish the mission of the station which is to promote research, enhance teaching, and develop partnerships.
Environmental Studies professor Glen Hvenegaard explained the threefold goal. The AMLRS will promote research in wildlife, ecosystems and sustainability to partners across the globe. With 11 students already taking part in a field studies course, the Station is even now in use to enhance teaching. And finally, the AMLRS will host many partnerships to explore sustainability and rural community issues by reaching out to other universities, community groups, plus government agencies from the local county to the federal ministry.
The station itself comprises a 1500-square-foot modular building. It has wet and dry laboratories, computing resources, multi-purpose office space, storage space, a fully-equipped kitchen, and overnight accommodation for up to eight people. A separate garage/workshop will be installed towards the end of summer for additional storage and work space.
The station even has its own sustainability plan built into operations to address issues of waste, water, and energy. Director of the University of Alberta’s Office of Sustainability Trina Innes explained that AMLRS was one of the very first projects supported through their Sustainability Enhancement Fund. There are plans for future initiatives, including the installation of solar panels and the creation of a composting system.
“Congratulations on your Gold Rating in the University of Alberta’s Green Spaces program!” Innes declared. “This is a key element of our work and one of the ways we measure our performance as one of the highest-rated universities in Canada for sustainability.”
“This facility will provide benefits to all age groups not only today, but for generations to come,” said Camrose County Reeve Don Gregorwich. “We first started talking about this five or six years ago and there were times when we wondered if it was ever going to come to pass. We’re here today to open a terrific facility.”
“I’m particularly grateful to the faculty who first brought me here and infected me with their own enthusiasm,” Dean Berger concluded. “It’s because of their leadership, their patience and determination, and their ability to bring others on board that all of us are here today.”
The event was capped by a historical monologue from vivacious local actress Glenys Smith of the Camrose Railway Station. She gave an energetic talk as Ethel Farley, aunt of Farley Mowat and wife of the first caretaker of the Miquelon Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Frank Farley.
We thank our other distinguished guests for joining us:
- MLA Wes Taylor (Battle River-Wainwright)
- Camrose County Deputy Reeve Doug Lyseng and Councillor Greg Gillespie
- Beaver County Reeve Kevin Smook and Councillor Sieko Scott
- Mayor Norm Mayor of Camrose with Councillor Agnes Hoveland and City Manager Malcolm Boyd
- Leduc County Councillor Rick Smith
- Strathcona Councillor Paul Smith
- University of Alberta Senator Jerry Iwanus and Jonathan Schaeffer, Dean of Science
The Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station would like to offer our special thanks to:
- Alberta Parks, especially staff and management at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park
- Triple M Construction: Bryce Nugent, Matt Salmon, Terry Villeneuve
- University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus Facilities & Operations team, Development team, the Science Department, Technology & Learning Services and our research assistants Erin Specht and Kelaine Brand
- Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities
For more information on the station, you can check it out on the Augustana website at www.augustana.ualberta.ca/research/centres/amlrs
As part of the opening celebration, several Augustana students presented research they were already conducting at the Station. Holly Yurkoski introduced guests to the moths she collected at the UV sheet survey at 1:00 am that morning.
Unfortunately, one container was opened and the moth escaped!
The undaunted 3rd-year B.Sc. student put up a UV light again that night and drew in another specimen of the same moth. Professor Emeritus David “Doc” Larson identified it as a white underwing moth, Catocala relicta, which favours poplar and willow.