Buffalo Lake Nature Club

Big Knife Provincial Park by RICHARD SCHNEIDER


The Buffalo Lake Nature Club (BLNC) is a Central Alberta naturalist club based out of Stettler, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The club was started by local saddle maker and farmer Lloyd Lohr and 18 other founding members, who were concerned about environmental issues at Buffalo Lake and the area in and around the County of Stettler.

The club’s first meeting was held on January 18, 1973, in the tiny hamlet of Erskine, where its constitution was decided but a name was not yet chosen. The club made the permanent move 12 km east to Stettler on February 18, 1973, and officially chose the name Buffalo Lake Naturalists. The name was changed to the Buffalo Lake Nature Club after the Federation of Alberta Naturalists changed its name to Nature Alberta in 2016.

BLNC has been active in a variety of areas, most notably in the development of bird boxes. Founder Lloyd Lohr was the first to create a local bluebird trail, where he set up numerous bird boxes to attract the showy mountain bluebirds to the area. Elmer Gross took over care of the trail and expanded it. By 1994, he had built and monitored 752 bird boxes, becoming known in the area as “Mr. Bluebird.” BLNC members also assisted the East Central Alberta Heritage Society in installing nest boxes along four of the Linear Parks at Meeting Creek, Big Valley, Rumsey, and Rowley.

The club was instrumental in the stewardship of the Churchill Welsh property, now called the Buffalo Lake Conservation Area, in 1974. The club also played an important role in establishing West Stettler Park.

BLNC runs a number of popular inventories and nature walks, including: the annual Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park Butterfly Count, headed by longtime member Dr. Charley Bird since 1999; the local Christmas Bird Counts of Stettler, Buffalo Lake, and Red Deer River; spring nocturnal owl surveys; Potter’s Seep Grove walk north of Stettler; JJ Collett Natural Area spring and autumn hikes, also led by Dr. Bird; the Lady Slipper Walk and canoe paddle at The Narrows Provincial Recreation Area; the annual picnic and nature walk at Big Knife Provincial Park; and surveys at Ewing and Erskine Lake Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, including Shuckburgh Slough. 

Since 2020, BLNC has held nature walks almost every Thursday through the summer months at various natural areas in the counties of Stettler, Camrose, Lacombe, and Flagstaff. These have been very popular and we plan to continue hosting walks every first and third Thursday of the month during the summer of 2023.

Our monthly in-person meetings host a variety of fascinating topics. We’ve had speakers discuss the biology of ants, snakes, oribatid mites, and the research of purple martin migrations, and local photographers sharing their images and experiences from in and around the area. Every meeting we take a roll call where everyone shares a favourite nature sighting they’ve had since our last meeting. 

We are always excited to have new members come and join our meetings and nature walks. Meetings are currently held in the lower hall of St. George’s Anglican Church on the third Thursday of the month (omitting July, August, and December). For more information, visit buffalolakenature.com. You can also find us on Facebook: the Buffalo Lake Naturalists page is where we focus on news and events, and on the Buffalo Lake Naturalists Group members share beautiful photographs and experiences from Buffalo Lake and the surrounding region.

Karin Lindquist is one of the current directors of Buffalo Lake Nature Club and has been a member for over five years. She operates as both webmaster and botanist for the club.