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Enjoying Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve’s Nature
Especially in spring through fall, the area within the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve and around the lake (the buffer zone of the Biosphere Reserve) is buzzing. Hikers, nature and bird lovers come here to relax and to savor the region's beauty. There is rolling prairie with small patches of natural mixed grass, open landscapes with amazing skies and sunsets, and a vast variety of birds and wildlife. Due to it’s avian value, the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve is a Migratory Bird Sanctuary and dedicated as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Wintertime is much quieter. Most of the tourists are gone, the migrating birds have flown away, and some of the wildlife hides in caves and dens to hibernate. This is the perfect season to enjoy the peaceful silence while skiing or snowshoeing. And when it gets dark outside, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) will be dancing in the night sky!
Canoe and Kayak Rental
In 2013 we add a new and exciting program to our repertoire: Thanks to Clearwater Canoeing who provides us with the boats we can now rent out canoes and kayaks on Redberry Lake. Come to the Research & Education Centre in Redberry Lake Regional Park and go on a paddle tour.
Monday-Friday: 9am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Rates: $20 for two hours, $40/day
At the end of summer is berry season! Especially around the lake are lots of bushes decorated with shining red berries. They virtually invite us to pick them and to make jellies or sauces.
But before you start let’s see what kind of berries are out there and which ones are edible:
Buffaloberry: There are two different types: The Thorny or Silver Buffaloberry(Shepherdia argentea) is edible and was historically used by the First Nations to include with meat when making pemmican. This berry is quiet sour and some people claim the best time to pick it is after a killing frost. The other Buffaloberry – the Canada Buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) – is not edible. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain if eating in large amounts. The historical use of it was medicinal, for treating stomach aches, constipation, heart problems, arthritis, tuberculosis and gall stones.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.): The berry looks like a miniature apple and is edible. There are large thorns (1-2 inches) on these bushes. Hawthorns make excellent habitat for the Loggerhead Shrike (often referred to as “Butcher Bird”), an endangered bird species.
Rose (Rosa ssp.): There are three species in our area. The most common is the Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana), which is a short rose and often seen on the side of the roads and in grassy pasture.
The other two species are Prickly Rose (Rosa acicularis) and the Wood’s Rose (Rosa woodsii). Both can grow quite tall, up to or exceeding 1.5 meters. They look quite similar and can be confused. The rose hips stay on the shrub all winter. They are edible, but should only be eaten in small amounts. There is the potential for stomach upsets and diarrhea.
Before you go: Please do not pick the berries when you are not sure about them! When you are near the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve you are welcome to drop in and ask us!
For the jam you need:
- Silver Buffaloberries
- 1 box of pectin for 4 cups of juice/pulp
- 4.5 cups white sugar
Clean and sort the berries. Put berries in a pot and cover with water. Cook for 5-10 minutes – do not over cook! Strain berries to remove seeds. Put 4 cups of juice/pulp into a dutch oven (or a large sauce pan) and add one box pectin. Bring to boil and add 4.5 cups of white sugar. Bring to a hard boil (hard boil cannot be stirred down) and boil it for 1 minute. Stir, skim and put the jam into sterilized jars.
Fun in Redberry Lake Regional Park
Within the Biosphere Reserve, Redberry Lake Regional Park is located 13 kilometers east of Hafford on Hwy #40 (GPS: N52-42.706 W107-13.009). From May 'til September there are lots of things to do: Come with your trailer or tent and stay on the campground, have a swim in the saline waters of Redberry Lake, build a sand castle on the beach, catch your trout in the pond nearby and roast it on the campfire. Often, in the evenings, you can go to a special event. Bring your boat or canoe and enjoy the lake from the water. You like playing golf? A minigolf as well as a well-kept and picturesque 9-hole golf course are available here.
More information about the Redberry Lake Regional Park can be found here.
To make sure future generations can enjoy nature here like you do, we ask you for your help:
Stay off all islands in the lake between April 15 and September 15 –
it is a Wildlife Refuge where colonial birds need privacy to breed.
Do not pick any plants (except for the ripe red berries!).
Stay on the trails.
Keep your dog on a leash.
Avoid making too much noise.
Take all your food and litter back home for disposal.
A word about Hunting
The Redberry Lake region is popular for hunters. There are hunting seasons for upland game birds and waterfowl, as well as big game animals (white tail deer, mule deer, elk, and moose). However, within the Wildlife Refuge around the lake itself, and on the islands, hunting is not allowed.
Did you know…?
The perimeter of Redberry Lake is 31.15 kilometers (21.2 miles).
The longest distance from one shore of the lake to the other is 9.6 kilometers (5.9 miles).
The Redberry Lake is a saline lake. The concentration of salt in the lake is about 2.1 per cent.
Water flows from streams and springs within the watershed into the lake. But this water only escapes by evaporation – leaving salt behind.
It is not as salty as our oceans (3.5 per cent) but still too salty for most of the freshwater fish.