Fall at Beaver Creek Meewasin

Leaving Leaf Litter for Ladybugs

Winter means big changes across Saskatchewan. The most obvious differences are trees without leaves and a blanket of snow on the ground. Plus, it’s cold. But a more subtle change involves the wildlife we’re used to seeing.

Some animals migrate south for the winter while others go into their versions of hibernation. And others hang around throughout the cold weather, staying warm and looking for food. When it comes to insects, the story can be a bit different.

Much like their avian brethren, some insects actually fly south for the winter, too. That being said, there are a significant portion who overwinter in the province and many of them are doing it right on your front lawn.

RELATED: The Diefenbaker Canada Centre Beaver Pond is a Happening Spot for Wildlife

Over-wintering in Leaf Litter

The leaves change colors at Beaver Creek Meewasin
The leaves change colors at Beaver Creek

Simply put, leaf litter is the debris left behind by trees as they prepare for colder weather. Many species of trees, specifically those classified as deciduous, lose their leaves before winter hits. This process helps them conserve energy and survive darker, colder winter months.

These leaves fall from trees, forming a key piece of the life cycle of a healthy environment. That includes providing shelter for a variety of overwintering insects throughout the colder seasons. While this happens in naturalized areas, it’s also happening in your yard.

A common fall activity for most home owners is raking the leaves left behind by trees on their lawns. While it might look nice to clean those leaves up, the practice is actually detrimental to a variety of insects. These leaves provide winter shelter for many of them and the loss of it is a huge issue.

Insects that benefit

The leaves change color in Saskatoon Meewasin
Fall begins in Saskatoon

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this cover are Lady Bird Beetles which are more commonly known as Ladybugs. They hibernate in large groups under leaf litter shelter. Ladybugs are extremely helpful insects as they keep populations of aphids and other perceived pests to a minimum.

Adorable Woolly Bear Caterpillars are another huge beneficiary. Using the shelter, they actually replace the water in their bodies with glycerol. It essentially acts as antifreeze. In the spring, Woolly Bear Caterpillars become stunning Isabella Tiger Moths. Talk about beauty sleep!

What can you do?

This is the best part. You don’t need to do anything. Let’s be honest, raking leaves is a lot of work and the only reason we do it relates to maintaining our yards. But it’s not what’s best for our tiniest friends.

All you need to do is skip raking the lawn and find something else to do with the time. Watch the game. Go shopping. Take a nap. If you’re feeling really bored, take two naps. Just leave the leaf litter alone and give various insect species the chance to stay warm this winter, too.

NEXT: The Meewasin Fall Clean-Ups Could Have a Huge Impact

Blue Skies over Meewasin Beaver Creek

Experience Fall at Beaver Creek Conservation Area

Migratory birds, hungry chickadees, and turning leaves make September one of the most magical times to visit Beaver Creek. With a series of four hiking trails to explore by foot, the site offers a number of ways to experience it.

Summer Wildflowers at Meewasin Beaver CreekCurrently, we are saying goodbye to the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds who were banded on site this summer by Ron Jensen and Meewasin staff. At the same time, we’re welcoming back the Sandhill Cranes who pass through as they migrate further south for the winter.

And a special thanks goes to Wild Birds Unlimited who provided feeders in support of our hummingbird banding program this summer!

This is the time of year the Black-capped Chickadees become even more curious as they begin to store seeds for the upcoming winter months. Seeds are handed out at the Interpretive Centre and are available by donation; please don’t bring other seed on site.

Although adorable, the ground squirrels and chipmunks do not need to be fed. This keeps everyone involved safe, particularly those precious little mooches. Trust us. They can handle their own business quite effectively.

What to know before you go

Some COVID-19 precautions are still in effect. Meewasin continues to have a capacity restriction and limited access to facilities at Beaver Creek . This provides a better and safer experience for our visitors and helps us to manage the pressure on this special conservation area.

Beaver Creek runs through the Meewasin Conservation Area

Meewasin requires the use of masks to access the washrooms in our Interpretive Centre. Meewasin works with children under 12 at Beaver Creek as regular visitors to our site and during our school programs. As this age group is not yet eligible for vaccination, masks continue to be an important tool to help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Until the children we serve are able to be vaccinated, Meewasin’s team members will wear masks in the Interpretive Centre and any time we are working with children. Members of the public wishing to use our washroom facilities must wear a mask to enter the building.

Thank-you for helping keep our staff and our youngest visitors safe!

Practice Good Stewardship While Adventuring

      • Take a pic, don’t pick! Although tempting to take a memento, a picture lasts longer and doesn’t impact sensitive habitats.
      • Stay on the marked trails. Help protect the plants and wildlife that call this place home.
      • The trails are for hiking only. No dogs or bikes are permitted on site.
      • Pack-it-in and pack-it-out. Please keep litter out of this special place.
      • Pack a water bottle. There is no potable water on site.

Beaver Creek is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday through Sunday.

Questions? Contact Beaver Creek at 306-374-2474.

Sheep get ready to graze at Beaver Creek Meewasin

Sheep Grazing Demonstrations are BACK this Fall!

Click to see our Calendar for a full list of dates/times/locations.

Register here to join us in the Northeast Swale.

Register here to join us at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

Join us in watching and exploring targeted sheep grazing for conservation through free demonstrations!

Meewasin has been a provincial and national leader in using targeted conservation grazing with small ruminants, including sheep, to manage conservation lands in urban and semi-urban landscapes for over 17 years!

 

Sheep grazing at Beaver Creek MeewasinAnd this year, the sheep are baaah-ck!

Shepherd Jared Epp and his flock will be working with Meewasin for a total of 15 days from early September to mid-October at both the Northeast Swale and the Beaver Creek Conservation Area, offering FREE demonstrations to the public two times per day. These demonstrations are made possible with partial funding from the RBC Tech for Nature Fund!

These Demos are completely FREE! (Donations are welcome!)​​

Register and choose a FREE ticket or a ticket by Donation.

Tickets to register at either the Northeast Swale or Beaver Creek are online now, and you can join us through the Fall Season on selected dates. But hurry! These spots will fill up fast. 

Dates & Locations are up on our calendar.

The RBC Tech for Nature Fund

Meewasin wouldn’t be able to provide these efforts if it wasn’t for the financial support from the Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship program.

A huge thank you this year to the RBC Tech for Nature Fund for supporting this special and important project.

Jared Epp with his herding dog at Beaver Creek MeewasinMeet Shepherd Jared Epp, his sheep, and his dogs

Meewasin’s conservation grazing program encourages the public to participate in grazing demonstrations as provided by Shepherd Jared Epp and his dogs.

Jared works with the Meewasin Resource Management team, educating children and adults on grazing ecology, the relationship between predator and prey, the grazing history of the prairies, the species targeted for grazing, and how to get the sheep to eat them.

 

Click to see our Calendar for a full list of dates/times/locations.

Register here to join us in the Northeast Swale.

Register here to join us at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

COVID-19 Updates – Trail Guidelines & Closures

Meewasin is committed to measures to slow the progress and flatten the curve of infections for COVID-19. To ensure that the general public and our staff are safe we are taking all preventative measures possible to stop the transmission of the virus. With this in mind the Meewasin Valley Authority Main Office will be closed with staff working remotely until further notice.

A Complete List of Site Closures:

Meewasin Valley Main Office – CLOSED until further notice

Trail Guidelines

Many parts of the Meewasin Trail remain open. Please follow the physical distancing guidelines below to Please follow the guidelines below to prevent the spread of COVID-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need to contact Meewasin, please call (306) 665-6887 or email meewasin@meewasin.com and watch www.meewasin.com for updates.

Virtual Nature Tour of Beaver Creek

Experience spring out at Beaver Creek and dive into nature with our interpreter Jamie!

A tour at Beaver Creek Conservation Area is always bursting with wildlife including various animals, plants, and insects! Spring is an especially exciting time, where many species are blooming, or having babies.

Due to COVID-19, Beaver Creek was closed during the spring, but follow along with Jamie’s adventure to see some unique and adorable species found in the Meewasin Valley in Saskatoon & area virtually, until it’s safe to come out again!