Friends of Blackfoot Society, Cooking Lake Alberta

Newsletter 2016


Well, another year has swiftly passed and we are now into 2016 . Hopefully everyone enjoyed a very Merry Christmas and a joy filled New Year.

The Friends have had a busy year involved in a number of events and assisting in the Blackfoot. I want to thank all of our volunteers who have donated so much time and effort working events, trail maintenance, recyclable collection, Interpretive Centre work, etc.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Alberta Trail Riders Association for their generous donation of $ 5,000 to help pay for staging area and trail maintenance.

As we head into this new year we already have some items on our agenda that we would really welcome volunteers to assist us. Starting on January 17 we will be hosting Hot Chocolate Sundays at the Waskehagen Staging Area Shelter. We will make available hot chocolate and cookies for all visitors to the Blackfoot on four consecutive Sundays leading up to the Birkie. The grand finale will be on February 7 when we will also have barbequed hot dogs.

February 13 is the date for the Canadian Birkebeiner and we could use more volunteers to assist on that day. If anyone is able to help they will need to contact us in advance of the event.

March 10 – 13 are the dates for the Edmonton Boat & Sportsmen’s Show. We plan on having a display there and again will be looking for help to man the display. We are offered this display space at no cost thanks to the Edmonton Fish & Game Association. Normally a display area of the size we have would cost in excess of $ 4,000 … a great offer courtesy of Edmonton Fish & Game.

If you would like to volunteer to help on any or all of these upcoming events, please contact me.

These are good opportunities to meet other Blackfoot recreationists and to promote not only the Friends group, but also the Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area.


Friends of Blackfoot Society
2015 – 2016 Board of Directors

Bob Stevenson
Past President

Jim Shewfelt

 Lorne Berrecloth
Vice President

Cathie Gale

Erla Stevenson

Karen Blumhagen

Mildred Stefiszyn

Patrick Stevens

Cameron Stevenson



The Interpretive Centre is currently in the annual Winter sleep mode as Len And Jane are gone for the winter; however a few activities are still occurring. During hot chocolate Sundays we will be available if anyone wants to visit the Centre. The Centre will also serve as the volunteer check-in point on February 13 for the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski event.


The Friends of Blackfoot and the Canadian Birkebeiner Society will again be hosting Hot Chocolate Sundays at the shelter at Waskehagen Staging Area on January 17, 24, 31, and February 7. A hot fire and hot chocolate and cookies will be available each day between noon and 4 P.M. February 7 will also include a hot dog barbeque.

Donations are gratefully accepted to help defray the costs .

BIRKIE NEWS … Brian Lucas

As of January 1, 2016 the 28th Canadian Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Festival is just 44 days and counting !

There is a new distance planned this year – the 40 km skate event – yes skating on cross country skis . It will begin at Ukrainian Village and finish at Waskehegan Staging Area.

Of course there will also be all the other distances as in the past – the 55 with pack, 55 lite, 31 and Ole’s Tour for the young folk .

Yes we could use more snow but it is coming little by little. I am told Greg and Frank set tracks from Waskehegan to Islet Lake on December 18th. Any snow dancing is welcome.

Our indoor events will be at the Agora room in Sherwood Park beginning with a Volunteer Orientation / Appreciation evening for all volunteers on Wednesday February 10th. On Friday the 12th there will be a Nordic Fair beginning at noon.

From all the Birkie planning group we offer a big thank you to the Friends of Blackfoot for all the assistance you have given us in the past – and for the wonderful Hot Chocolate on Sundays preceding the event on Saturday February 13th .

For any further information please check or phone Brian Lucas ~ 780 467 0524



Alberta Trail Riding Association ” ATRA ” is a registered, non-profit equestrian organization actively involved in preserving the natural environment for future generations’ enjoyment of recreational horse usage, e.g. riding & driving etc.

Specifically, besides the promotion of horse activities attention is given to protection of public lands, traditionally the domain of the horse in Alberta . Many of Alberta’s backcountry heritage recreation areas are under increasing mechanical degradation and complete loss of peace and tranquility . Hence, areas prohibiting this destruction and abuse are becoming very difficult to protect.

Such an area exists, a short drive east of Edmonton. This former Forest Reserve, the first in Canada (1899), was the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve . From this land, came ” Elk Park ” (1906) and officially (1913), a national park. Later, more forest reserve lands were needed for bison. This left approximately 28,000 acres, now known as Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area (1988).

Members of “ATRA” utilize the upwards of 85 kms of equestrian trails year around. Facilities for all users have increased over time. Many trails are “multi-use” while others cater to specific usage. For the horse users close liaison through the Friends of Blackfoot Society (FOB) and on to the staff of Alberta Parks, ensures an ongoing dialogue with other users in the area.

Recently, ATRA has donated money for trail enhancement, hitching rail replacement, staging area expansion, trail flood mitigation, including realignment for the popular Blackfoot Trail. As a principal stakeholder, ATRA strongly supports other user groups such as the annual high profile, cross country ski event, the “Birkebeiner”, plus other athletic races and outdoor activities.

ATRA meets on the 3rd Thursday of most months at 7 P.M. Excellent educational speakers discuss equestrian activities, clinics and enjoyable social times with other horse lovers. Unless otherwise specified, meetings are held in Edmonton at Kirk United Church. New members are welcome . Please check website for more information …








WILDLIFE AND HUNTING UPDATES … Jim Shewfelt – Firearms Instructor/EFGA

Hunting seasons are gradually winding down across the province and at Cooking Lake – Blackfoot, the only season still open is for upland game birds closing January 15 .

Wildlife populations appear to be recovering to some extent because of the last couple of milder winters and a drop in the number of predators (wolves , cougars). A number of area users have reported seeing black bears in the region this past year and in the summer we noted a large amount of bear sign. Whitetail deer numbers still appear to be low, however there seems to be an increasing population of mule deer. Moose also seem to be enjoying healthy populations and are really over abundant in some areas of the province.

With respect to hunting activities in Blackfoot we need to be aware that on top of the regulated hunting seasons that First Nations people hunt here year round. No one is allowed to hunt in Blackfoot on Sundays . All hunters must obtain a Firearms Discharge Permit before hunting in the Blackfoot. First time hunters and those that are drawn for any big game draws (elk & moose) also have to attend a Hunter Safety Training Seminar. Let us also consider the fact that all hunters must have or must be accompanied with someone that has a Firearms Licence and that person must have completed and passed a Federal Firearms Safety Course as well as successfully passing an extensive criminal record check, etc. They must also complete a Hunter Education Course before they can purchase a Hunting Licence . Given the extents of the requirements to just be able to legally hunt this also is indicative of the safety that is instilled in hunting as a recreation.

Hopefully this explanation will allay some of the fears non-hunters may have about hunters.

Hunters are your friends. Say “Hi” to them should you run into them out there. Remember if it were not for hunters, most of the wildlife and wild areas we all enjoy today would have been lost and not here for us to enjoy.



During the past few months there has been a rash of mail box break ins. These have been mostly occurring in rural areas with an increase in activity during the month of December. We would ask everyone to keep a watchful eye and if you observe suspicious activity around any mail boxes phone Strathcona County RCMP @ 780 467 7741.

If safe to do so, try to obtain a vehicle plate number as well as a description of the vehicle and occupants. We can all work together to put these scum bags in jail where they belong. Let’s keep our communities safe and crime free.

Ruth Shewfelt – President – Strathcona County Citizens on Patrol


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Waskehagen Staging Area

11 AM to 4 PM

Horse & Wagon Rides

Take a hike

Visit the Interpretive Centre

Hot Dogs – Pop – Ice Cream – Cake

Everyone Welcome – Bring your Family – Bring your Friends


Jan 31 – Hot Chocolate Sunday – Waskehegan Staging Area

Feb 7 – Hot Dog and Chocolate Sunday – Waskehegan Staging Area

Feb 13 – Canadian Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Festival – All Staging Areas

Mar 10 – 13 Edmonton Boat & Sportsmen’s Show – Edmonton Expo Centre

Jul 16 – Parks Day – Waskehagen Staging Area

Jul 16 – Devon Discovery Walkers – Waskehagen to Meadow

Sep 1 – Migratory Bird Hunting Season opens *

Oct 15 – Archery Hunting Season opens for Moose & Elk *

Nov 2 – Rifle Hunting Season for Elk & Moose opens – Draw Only *

Nov 9 – White Tail Deer Hunting Season opens *

* Firearms Discharge Permit Required for any of these activities




All dogs must be kept on leashes & please pick up after them

Respect other users … for example when hiking / walking / riding on any groomed ski trails, please stay out of the ski tracks

Target shooting is prohibited in the Blackfoot Recreation Area

No Sunday hunting

All fur bearing wildlife are protected in the Blackfoot Recreation Area (squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, lynx, cougar, weasels family, porcupines)