At the Calgary Stampede, we are proud of the place that we call home—whether that means Stampede Park or more broadly the Calgary community. This means that we take pride in celebrating the people, the land, the traditions and the values that make up our rich western heritage. A big part of this is taking care of the physical environment around us.

The Elbow River running through Stampede’s beautiful backyard.

Monday, April 22, 2019 marked the 49th Earth Day since the global event began in 1970. Earth Day serves as a great reminder and opportunity for individuals to acknowledge the importance of protecting our precious planet. The goal of Earth Day is to diversify, educate and activate a worldwide environmental movement. Considering that Earth Day is now recognized in nearly 192 countries, one could argue that the organization is well on its way to achieve their goal.

The theme of Earth Day for 2019 is Protect Our Species, which nicely aligns with the Stampede’s close connection to our land. The Calgary Stampede environmental team works hard year-round to ensure the protection of the environment and the local species of plants and animals that we share it with. In honour of Earth Day, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight a few of our environmental initiatives that aim to protect our own local species.

Did you know that we have five bat boxes and five bird houses on Stampede Park? Despite being the size of a hefty textbook, one bat box can house up to 200 bats. Having bats on Stampede Park is useful for both our guests and the bats themselves—the bats eat mosquitoes as a natural alternative to spraying pesticides, keeping Stampede Park bug-free for guests, while the bat boxes provide a safe habitat for female bats to raise their pups near the Elbow River. Our bird houses provide a similar purpose—the birds eat insects and weed seeds, naturally reducing the amount of unwanted pests and invasive weeds on Stampede Park. Next time you are walking around ENMAX Park, see if you can spot the bat box hiding near the trees!

Bat box near the Elbow River.

Another environmental program that we participate in is the Yellow Fish Road program—Canada’s premier water education program, designed to reduce water pollution. We have almost 70 storm drains across Stampede Park that feed directly into the Elbow River, meaning that any substance that goes into our storm drains will end up in the river, where it could affect the species that rely on the river for survival. To help raise awareness of these storm drains, the Stampede has embraced the Yellow Fish Road program, clearly marking all of our storm drains with a bright yellow fish and a “Rainwater Only” label.

Yellow fish marks the storm drain.

As the Environmental Coordinator, I greatly support this program, because I get to spend the entire day outside practicing my fish-painting skills, while knowing that I am doing my part to protect both the fish and the Elbow River, which we are lucky to have in our own backyard.

We also recently wrapped up Aggie Days at the Calgary Stampede, which is an educational experience for school children and families to learn about Alberta’s agricultural practices. For the past two years, Aggie Days has featured an environmental booth that breaks down how the animals’ bedding waste is converted into compost and used on tree farms. Sustainably recycling animal waste into a viable nutrient is just one way that we cut down on waste.

Horse bedding recycling.

Our planet is our greatest resource and it deserves to be respected and protected every single day. Earth Day is a great initiative that reminds us of this and encourages us to do our part. Here at the Stampede, we take several conscious steps to protect our local species and take pride in our environmental initiatives that help to protect the environment in our own backyard.