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Nature in Trust – An Update 1993-2023

by Wayne Pepper

In the more than 30 years following printing of the original Nature in Trust, the story of the first years of the Regina Natural History Society (now known as Nature Regina) there have been many accomplishments and interesting happenings in the society. Many of the members and workers are gone now but new ones have stepped into the breach to carry on the important work of nature conservation.  


In the past 30 years, the world has changed radically with introduction of the internet, cell phones and various ways and means of communication but the interest and appreciation of nature and commitment to protect it in its various forms continues. A most important part of the Regina Natural History Society has been and will continue to be communication and education of members and the general public at large about wild things, their characteristics, and the challenges they face. This continuation of the original 1933-1992 account seeks to up-date what the people of the Regina Natural History Society have done to further the cause of conserve particularly in the environs of Regina, Saskatchewan.     

Hidden Valley

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This long-standing feature and treasure of Nature Regina’s continues to provide a site near Craven in the Qu’Appelle Valley where naturalists can go to enjoy nature on its own raw terms. The half section of valley slopes and ravines supports a tremendous variety of native species of prairie plants and wildlife. Nature Regina supplies a volunteer caretaker who, with the support of society helpers, takes care of fence and parking lot maintenance on a yearly basis. Dean Richert served as Hidden Valley caretaker for many years in the 1990s and 2000s and the Valley's care continues today with Dale Hjertaas's support.

Native Plant Garden


The Native Garden plants located outside the doors of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum were collected as seeds and seedlings from the wild by a group of naturalists and horticulturalists who wanted to establish a show garden to display the merits of native prairie wild flowers and grasses. Approximately 70 species were transplanted into the garden space and about 50 of them flourished providing families coming and going at the museum the chance to experience a microcosm of typical natural prairie. The native plants attracted many species of animal life including a variety of insects including at least two rare bumble bees, song birds and small mammals. 

The garden required considerable weeding especially early each growing season.  The Regina naturalists rose to the challenge each spring by diligently gathering each week to hand pull unwanted Canada thistles, sow thistles, dandelions and other unwanted species. The garden proved popular with tourists and families coming to the museum so a number of signs were installed identifying various plants of interest. A series of photos were taken by Lynn McCaslin of the different species as they flowered. When displayed in the museum, the pictures could be used as a reference to identify the plants that were flowering outside. Wayne Pepper assumed responsibility for looking after the garden for many years. In the late 2020’s he turned these duties over to Gail Fennell whose enthusiasm has expanded the influence of the garden into starting native plant seedlings for interested naturalists to take home and grow in their own yards. In addition, she and her helpers have convinced Regina City parks people to develop butterfly and pollinator gardens around the city parks using seed stock from the native plant garden.     

Bird Feeders

At different times through the long hard winters, Nature Regina members have maintained bird feeders around the city, including the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and at White Butte ski area east of Regina and at Sherwood Forest west of Regina. The feeders and the visiting birds add to the enjoyment of nature in winter at park and recreation sites.  

Fun Days in the Park &
Wings Over Wascana

Nature Regina has supplied tour guides and interpreters for various family oriented Fun Days in the Park and Wings Over Wascana festivals. These nature walks, displays and demonstrations have complemented the different bird counts such as the Christmas Bird Count in providing the general public and organized naturalists alike the opportunity to get outside and interact with nature throughout the winter months. Jim Elliott (often accompanied by his pet great horned owl), Frank Switzer, and Trevor Herriot with their colourful talks about birds on CBC Radio’s Bird Line have been consistent contributors to Nature Regina’s interpretation of natural history and wildlife ecology. Various members led by Wayne Pepper and Gail Fennell have explained the working of nature through hands-on, cooperative work and learning at the Native Prairie Plant Garden at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.  


Student Grant

Each year over the past 30-plus years, Nature Regina has provided a grant of up to $1,500 to a student studying nature ecology. The successful recipients have studied a wide range of topics such as a study of the effects of viral diseases on salamanders; the basic biology of nighthawks; a variety of studies on bat species to name a few of the topics – all closely connected to the southern Saskatchewan area. With the academic knowledge and experience supported by the student grant, most of the biology student recipients went on to careers in ecological science with many finding employment in the Regina area. 

Sale of Sunflower Seed

For many years, Dean and Mariam Richert, calling on support from their farming connections, sold sunflower seeds by the bag to Nature Regina members. Proceeds from these sales supported the work of the society.  

Environmental Advocacy

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Nature Regina has taken a stand on many issues of everyday life in and around Regina. A resolution could be prepared and after approval at an annual Nature Regina Annual Meeting, submitted for consideration to the agency that could take action. Many of these stands involved management of Wascana Park when conservation of wildlife was compromised by new developments, or ongoing activities such use of pesticides or vegetation management in Regina parks and green areas. On other occasions, the society has prepared resolutions to pass on to national or international bodies where Nature Regina members felt certain activities were compromising natural history concerns and interests.  

On occasion members submitted resolutions that served only their personal interests but not those of the membership as a whole. To assist with writing and vetting resolutions, a committee was developed to assist with this task and to, by constructive discussion, develop ideas and potential activities that would best serve Nature Regina. Dick Pope, Wayne Pepper and Frank Switzer worked to formally set up this Environmental Advocacy Committee. Although the committee ceased to meet regularly as years passed, Nature Regina has continued to be a strong advocate for conservation of the natural environment.   

Living by Water &
Wascana Shore Cleanup

As part of Nature Regina’s contribution to the Living by Water program, Yvonne MacKenzie organized a Wascana Shoreline Cleanup each spring to clean up the garbage that accumulated over winter. Many of the workers assisting Yvonne also helped with pulling the ecologically destructive plant, purple loosestrife where it invaded Wascana creek.  

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