from the past

Coyote Lake is situated within one of the biologically richest areas of Alberta

S itting in a gazebo overlooking the lake within the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Hopkins property in Alberta is Katelyn Ceh, NCC’s natural area manager for northwest Alberta.

“It’s a quiet place to visit. I have two favourite spots on the property: one is here at the gazebo, and the other is the West Boundary Trail,” says Katelyn. “The Hopkins property has become one of my beloved places to visit in Alberta.”

The West Boundary Trail is a 500-metre loop around the Hopkins property. It is only one of the many trails, originally built by the property’s previous landowners, Eric and Doris Hopkins, to explore here.

The property was donated to NCC by Eric and Doris in 1995. The Hopkins had purchased the property after their retirement, and built a cabin to live out their days on the land. After taking care of the land and the lake for decades, they decided to donate their two quarter-sections to NCC to continue their conservancy legacy. In recognition, the property is now named after them.

“Eric and Doris were extremely passionate about the conservation of the property, and they had a wealth of knowledge about what made the area so special,” says Katelyn. “The story of the Hopkins family continues to inspire conservation today.”

Coyote Lake (Photo by NCC)

Discover a biodiversity hot spot

The 13- hectare (320-acre) property is situated along the north edge of Coyote Lake. The lake is located in between the dry mixed-wood boreal forest and the central parkland sub-regions, making it a biodiversity hot spot. Birds, such as great grey owl, least flycatcher and red-tailed hawk, can be heard in the treetops, while mammals, including beaver and North American porcupine, roam on the ground.

While walking along the trail, visitors might catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer peeking through the trees. In the fall and winter, moose and elk tracks are visible in the mud and snow.

As a natural area manager, Katelyn has the opportunity to explore natural spaces in Alberta, such as the Hopkins property, and to learn more about the stories of the people who cared for the land.


Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawks have expansive, curved wings and small, broad tails. Most are brown on top with a pale, streaked underside. Adult birds’ tails are cinnamon-red on top and pale underneath, while young birds’ tails are brown with bands.

These spectacular birds live in various habitats, and while they prefer open areas, such as fields and deserts, they also live near mountains and in tropical rainforests.




“I think it’s important for Canadians to get out and connect to the landscapes around them, not only for their health, but also because when people are connected to a place, they want to ensure it is protected and cared for,” says Katelyn. “That’s what stories like Eric and Doris’ teach us. In a changing world, it’s increasingly important for Canadians to become invested in the diverse landscapes across the country.”

Species to Spot

– beaver
– black-capped chickadee
– bufflehead
– Columbian watermeal
– common loon
– coyote
– elk
– great grey owl
– least flycatcher
– moose
– North American porcupine
– pine marten
– pine siskin
– red-eyed vireo
– red-necked grebe
– red-tailed hawk
– rough-legged hawk
– snowshoe hare
– white-tailed deer

A life-long love affair

It’s thanks to the Hopkins family’s life-long passion for nature and protecting this special place that Katelyn developed a deep appreciation for this area.

“The first time I heard their story, I felt a connection to Coyote Lake and the land surrounding it. Over the years, I have become more connected to this place. I’m proud of the small role I play in protecting it, and I know I am extremely fortunate to be able to work on landscapes that are so important for conservation,” she says.

Photo Credits (Top to bottom): UNSR; NCC; Lorne; NCC; Bill Macintyre.

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