New research station opens in provincial park
Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station will promote study of wildlife, ecosystems and sustainability with partners around the globe.
By CHRISTOPHER THRALL
(Camrose) A new research station in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park will help promote research, enhance teaching and foster collaboration between researchers at the University of Alberta and partners around the globe.
The Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station project involved more than $300,000 in funding from community partners including the U of A, Alberta Parks, Camrose County, Beaver County, and the Beaver Hills Initiative, as well as generous philanthropic support from committed donors to the project and the university's Augustana Campus.
At the station's official opening held Aug. 20, Allen Berger, dean of Augustana, recalled visiting Miquelon Lake in his first week as dean four years ago 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. “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.”
Bruce Hinkley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, said he was impressed with the collaboration, dedication and commitment that made the new research station 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,” said Graham Statt, Parks Division assistant deputy minister. “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 noted. “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 30 kilometres 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 distinctive ecosystem that links the prairies and parkland to the south with the boreal forests to the north, coupled with a rich mosaic of urban, rural and historic social influences.
Hvenegaard, a professor of environmental studies at Augustana, explained the station's threefold goal. The AMLRS will promote research in wildlife, ecosystems and sustainability to partners across the globe. With 11 students already in place, the station is even now in use to enhance teaching. And finally, the AMLRS will host partnerships to explore sustainability and rural community issues by reaching out to other universities, community groups and government agencies, from the local county to the federal ministry, Hvenegaard said.
Building a sustainable station
The station is housed in a 1,500-square-foot modular building with 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 and workshop will be installed toward the end of summer for additional storage and work space.
To address issues of waste, water and energy use, the station has its own sustainability plan built into operations. Trina Innes, director of the U of A’s Office of Sustainability, explained that the station was one of the first projects supported through the Sustainability Enhancement Fund. Future plans include installing solar panels and creating a composting system.
The sustainability measures earned the station a gold rating in the university's Green Spaces program. “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,” Innes said.