Council hears about bat boxes initiative

By Rob Vogt
A local high-school student has received recognition and funding for a project to protect the local watershed, and is seeking the Town of Claresholm’s permission to do it at the Frog Creek wetlands.
Mary-Ann Toone appeared as a delegation at Claresholm town council’s April 24 meeting to talk about her bat boxes project.
She explained she is a Grade 9 student at Willow Creek Composite High School.
Seven months ago she submitted a proposal to an organization called “Caring for the Watersheds Alberta” for a contest they are running.
She placed in the top 10, receiving funding to implement her proposal.
Her proposal is creating bat boxes and installing them in the community to help care for the watershed by increasing the bat population.
Toone was seeking support for Phase 1 of the project and a memorandum of understanding to support the program.
She said the benefits of bat boxes include helping increase the population of bats which help spread seeds and control insects such as mosquitoes.
Phase 1 would see one to two bat boxes placed at the Frog Creek wetlands.
“This is an ideal location to provide maximum benefits to the citizens in the south end of town and the golf course,” Toone said.
She would set up signs warning people to stay away so as not to damage or harm the bat boxes, and highlight the benefits of the bats.
The funding she received covers the cost of building the boxes and the signs. She would need the Town of Claresholm to install the boxes and signage.
After receiving approval from town council, Toone said she would talk to the Municipal District of Willow Creek about supporting additional phases.
In Phase 2, bat boxes would be placed at Pine Coulee, Clear Lake and Willow Creek parks, with at least one to two at each park.
Phase 3 would see putting the bat boxes in the M.D.. Possible locations could be the town lagoons, and at the end of the Frog Creek ponds.
A few more boxes could possibly be put in parks around Claresholm too.
Phase 4 would make bat boxes available for people to hang up on their private property in the Claresholm area.
“By doing this, I am increasing the range of bat boxes and help involve others with the project,” Toone said.
She said the project seems ambitious but having a phased approach will allow for a maximum amount of success and sustainability for the project.
After each phase, Toone plans to consult with her mentor, who is a bat-box expert, as well as staff and administration with the Town of Claresholm and M.D. of Willow Creek, to make adjustments for future phases.
“I really like your initiative,” said Coun. Kandice Meister. “It’s great, and taking care of our watershed is super important, especially now, so good on you.”
“Good job,” added Deputy Mayor Brad Schlossberger, who chaired the meeting.
He also advised Toone council cannot make a decision on a request from a delegation at the same meeting at which the request is made, so the matter will be on a future agenda of council.