Home Sustainable Okotoks 10 Branches of Sustainability 7. Natural Areas & Open Space
7. Natural Areas & Open Space
While some residents may feel natural areas should be mowed and manicured, natural areas are very valuable in their own right. They increase the health and vigor of adjacent natural parkland ecosystems and support native wildlife and beneficial insects by providing habitat, buffers to urban areas, and even native wildlife corridors.
Natural Areas are also vital for water conservation and storm water management. Native vegetation that is left in its natural state requires no additional irrigation above what it receives through natural rainfall. Native vegetation while being more drought resistant also has a stronger resistance against pests and disease.
50% of unvegetated boulevards are to be planted by 2005 with 100% completed by 2010 utilizing xeriscape principles.
The Town’s 'Hort Hotline' answers residents’ questions about plant selection, pests and disease, weeds, water conservation, composting, gardening, and numerous other topics. A regular column pertaining to these topics is published in the biweekly Town Pages in the Western Wheel.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a decision-making model used to prevent and manage pest problems. IPM promotes the use of various management practices (cultural, biological, mechanical, legal and genetic) to improve plant health, and to prevent and manage pest infestations.
The IPM Plan provides specific information on how to prevent and manage pests on lands within the Town of Okotoks. This plan is to be a fundamental component of the Town's park maintenance, management, and environmental policies which incorporate effective and environmentally-sound land stewardship practices.
Turf & Irrigation
Integrated Cultural Management program references have been developed over the past year for both sports fields and park spaces. These program references focus on cultural management practices (aeration, topdressing etc.) and soil development procedures to improve turf sustainability.
The Town's Integrated Pest Management Plan and its utilization is crucial in the control of weeds and pests in turf. Currently the Town is also reviewing and improving sports fields construction specifications to create a more sustainable completed product that will better manage pests, weeds and drought.
The Urban Forest
Trees are recognized as valuable assets by reducing temperature extremes, reducing energy losses, absorbing carbon dioxide and increasing aesthetic appeal and property value. Species selection, planting specifications, and the management practices collectively determine the ability of a forest to be resilient to periods of drought, insect and disease infestation and high maintenance costs.
In 2008 an Urban Forest Management Plan was penned to set goals for managing Okotoks' urban forest to conserve water, minimize run-off, minimize pest and disease losses, and minimize maintenance costs while growing a beautiful, healthy ans strong forest asset.
More than 300 trees and shrubs were planted as part of a $3 million mainstreet revitalization project completed in 2001, re-affirming Okotoks' commitment to significant augmentation of its urban forest.
Energy savings from trees planted near homes and buildings range from 10 to 50% for cooling and from 4 - 22% for heating.
The size of the tree and proximity to the building is important.
In 2008 the following improvements were made to Okotoks' urban forest:
All of the above improvements are also planned for the upcoming 2009 growing season including two additional events:
Okotoks Pathway System and Open Spaces
The landmark Municipal Development Plan of 1998 included integrated community-wide pathway development plan to encourage non-vehicular modes of transportation. A majority of this pathway plan has been constructed, over 40km of connected pathways.
Adoption of xeriscaping principals in municipal spaces