A Calgary man is cycling more than 3,800 kilometers this month to visit 164 Alberta parks previously planned to be delisted by the provincial government.
Sean Nichols opens The Great Alberta Parks Bike-a-thon 2021 on July 5 at Highwood River Natural Area, about 50 kilometers southeast of downtown Calgary.
By July 15, they had covered more than 1,000 kilometers at Highwood Provincial Recreation Area in Kananaskis, sharing photos and videos from each park along the way.
“I’m telling stories from these parks so that others who follow me can better understand what’s out here,” he said. Dawn Alberta.
“When they learn that there are all these wonderful parks around the province, many of which they cannot own, I hope [it] Might inspire them to have an idea for a future trip.”
Nichols hopes that by connecting with natural wild places throughout the province, people will commit to their conservation.
Last March, the Alberta government decided to remove 164 of the province’s 473 parks from the system as a cost-saving measure, rather than seeking third-party partners to take over their management.
After people rallied to protect the parks, the plan was reversed in December 2020, leaving the areas open.
“When I was looking at these parks, it became very easy to see them as a list of names on a piece of paper,” Nichols said. “Your eyes light up and it becomes a very different kind of thing than actually coming out of here and seeing yourself.”
Park experiences resonate with people
Last week, on a hot and smoky day, Nichols rode along the Oldman River, stopping to sit near a cliff and soak his feet in the water.
From biking hundreds of miles outside the city to hanging your feet in the river, to picnics with friends in the park a few miles away from home, there is something about these places that resonates with people, he said They said.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t get to park at all,” Nichols said.
“Everyone has a different understanding, an idea of what a park should be and what different things should be from it. But everyone can connect to a park in some way or another.”
Nichols will head north, hitting dozens of parks lined up to close his path, before ending his trip at Strathcona Science Provincial Park in Edmonton in late July.
You can follow Nicholas’ progress on Instagram, Twitter and Strava.
He is also raising funds for the Alberta Wilderness Foundation, an organization that supports the conservation of wilderness areas and the completion of protected areas networks.