High Water Readiness

If you have ever been here or looked for us on a map, you will know Riverbend Campground is located on the Sheep River.  For most of the year the Sheep is a quiet river winding through the foothills before emptying into the Highwood River about eight kilometers to the east of us and eventually into the Bow. During spring melt in the mountains, stream flow can be much heavier and some years the river breaches its banks and causes flooding. There have been some dramatic events in the past and we have seen the course of the river actually change.

As you can imagine, through the 30-plus years our families have been here we have seen and experienced all that Mother Nature is capable of, both the good and the not so good. Each year we are repairing and preparing in varying measures. Much work has been done in the last two years to protect our property and our community. The river bank has seen much of this work. We don’t expect any problems but are ever vigilant. Much monitoring takes place upstream and when authorities believe there is a risk, we are notified. We in turn notify campers to the best of our ability. In the past, members of our campground community came together and helped one another. RV’s located in areas that might be affected were moved to higher ground.

To facilitate notification in emergency events, the municipalities in our area have banded together and have a coordinated warning system in place called Safe Communities Alert Network (SCAN). If you are a month-to-month or seasonal camper we encourage you to sign up to receive alerts. You simply go to the MD of Foothills website here: http://www.mdfoothills.com/emergency-management/emergency-alerts.html  Here you will see information on the SCAN system with a link to create an account. When you go through the process you will be given options with respect to the types of notifications you are interested in receiving. Notifications can be sent to you via text message. The platform used was created by a developer called Everbridge, who has also developed an app for your smart phone. The app allows you to go into the site for updates.

Riverbend is also setting up a system which will allow us to send out notifications via bulk text message. We are in the process of inputting the cell phone numbers of our campers but you can opt-in to this by simply texting: “EZTHH10253” to 393939.

Riverbend Wetlands

Our new fountain is a visually pleasing feature on the lake with the added benefits inherent with water aeration.

One of the common observations offered by newcomers and visitor to Southern Alberta is that the area suffers from a lack of lakes. Certainly compared to Minnesota, the “land of 10,000 lakes” or their neighboring Canadian province of Manitoba, we have fewer lakes. For most, the attraction of lakes is the recreational opportunities inherent in large bodies of water.

Because of the smaller number of lakes, bodies of water that wouldn’t qualify to carry the designation elsewhere are lakes here. This might beg the question, what constitute a lake? Some opinion focuses on a threshold of 2 acre surface area, but in Montana a body of water has to be a minimum of 20 acres to be called a lake. But please grant us some license, for you see, it’s really no different from use of the word “mountain” here versus elsewhere. With our majestic Rocky Mountains giving us our perspectives, we sometimes marvel at the hills in other regions that locals feel earn the moniker, “mountain.”

In spite of having fewer lakes, we don’t have a shortage of water. From rivers and streams to a variety of water bodies. Southern Alberta has a number of reservoirs created to collect water for irrigation. As agriculture was the primary purpose, recreational use was considered secondary.

In addition to lakes and reservoirs we have wetlands, a critical component of the ecology of our region. It might surprise you to learn that 20 percent of the surface of Alberta is covered by wetlands. The two types of wetlands in Southern Alberta’s wetlands are “Shallow Open Water Ponds” and “Marshes.” Here at Riverbend Campground we are blessed to have both types of wetlands features. Our “lake” is a Shallow Open Water Pond located on the west half of the property. Our Marsh is located east of the main road just below the hill.

The fountain on the lake adds a visually pleasing feature while promoting a healthy aquatic ecosystem. The fountain provides aeration of the water. The primary benefits of aeration are an improved fish habitat, a reduction in algae growth, and decreased mosquito activity.

Our wetlands offer ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Those with an interest in bird watching will have opportunity to see some very interesting species. Here’s a list of some of the birds that have been spotted here at Riverbend with notation on species that have nested here. Make use of our Nature Trails to explore these areas of our property. These run throughout the campground. Some run up the hill to the road from the East End and some follow the creeks.  We continue to add new trails and upgrade the existing legs. The wood mulch we are adding provides a good walking surface, is aesthetically pleasing, helps with weed control, and minimizes soil erosion. A new trail starts behind the main west washroom, follows the creek east and exits in the area of the new tenting sites. It covers rough terrain and caution is advised.

Exploring the trails is a very quiet and pleasant way to see wildlife and different species of trees and undergrowth. If you catch the season right, you will be treated to several wild edible berries. Start by picking up a trail map at the office and begin your firsthand introduction to the Riverbend Wetlands.

Hope Ana Prayer Chapel

Small wooden churches were a mainstay of life on the Canadian prairies. As communities sprang up across the west, the church was a central part of life in the community. This history can be viewed in Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary. Their church, St. Martin’s Anglican Church, was originally built in 1896 in the Southern Alberta community of Lundbreck.

There were many small churches, but only a few fit in the category of tiny. Cross Island Chapel in Oneida, New York bills itself as the world’s smallest church with a floor of 51-inches by 81-inches and a seating capacity of two. Perhaps while travelling the Dinosaur Trail, near Drumheller, you have taken a few minutes to visit “The Little Church.” The sign at this site boasts “Seating 10,000 people 6 at a time.” In addition to being a tourist stop it also sees the occasional wedding and worship service. Here’s a link to their Facebook page. The Little Church has even made it onto TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in Drumheller.

The Hope Ana Prayer Chapel

Our little chapel has a less grand history but is a special little spot for us.  You will find it nestled in a secluded little area on what we call The Island. It was originally constructed over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. It was fondly christened the “Hope Ana Prayer Chapel” If you have never seen it, you will get a sense of scale knowing it too has a seating capacity of six people.

The Chapel's "stained glass" windows.
The Chapel’s “stained glass” window.

During construction, some of our seasonal campers donated items like benches, lanterns and candles to the project. At various spots around the lake you could see the structure standing above the bushes, surrounded by the larger trees. Over time the undergrowth filled in and embraced our little hideaway. Along with flora, time and weather took their toll and this little gem fell into disrepair.

Last summer, our team rolled up sleeves, and with sawdust flying and hammers swinging the Hope Ana Prayer Chapel has been restored. We like to think the new edition is even better than the original. New roof, new siding, new windows, we think it turned out pretty well. It was finished in time to be used for a family wedding last summer. Have a look at some of our pictures, and when you visit us this summer, make sure to take a stroll onto the island, take a look, a picture or two and spend a few quiet minutes.

New roof, new siding, new lease on life.