During the last ice age, kilometre-high glaciers scraped across North America. When the ice melted, millions of shallow pools were left behind. These “pothole” wetlands took tens of thousands of years to form naturally, yet in little more than a century, humans have destroyed many of them.
The Prairie Pothole Region spans southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It also extends into North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Montana.The number of potholes fluctuates from two million to eight million, depending on seasonal moisture levels.
These are some of the best waterfowl breeding grounds on the planet. The region’s wetlands and grasslands also provide essential habitat for hundreds of other species – including more than 50 at-risk species.
Pothole wetlands are just as important for our own well-being. They help keep our water clean. They help regulate water levels in times of flooding and drought. They provide us with natural places to enjoy.
Despite the fact that the description says “Southern” Alberta, a map of the region shows that it does extend up to the area around Edmonton, likely why so many of our lakes are referred to as potholes.
We rode our bikes on a new route today, as I had discovered some interesting scenery on my photo shoot on July 12, 2020. We headed East on SH 510 to Eagle Rock Golf Course, before turning South onto roads we had already ridden.
Several things became obvious, very quickly:
- 510 was much busier than 505.
- 510 was narrower and rougher than 505
- Riding this route, we got a new appreciation for just how far East we were riding. 8 km. and 24 minutes.
- Summer highway construction was under way, so we had to physically distance from a flag person, as we waited for our turn.
Along the way, we passed many little ponds created as part of the Prairie Pothole scenario. The water height was greater this year, due recent heavy rainfall.
Flying on by at such a great speed,
one might miss this pond, so full of life.
Prairie waterfowl of ev’ry breed,
safe from predators, avoiding strife.
Mom and Pop show their young ones the ropes,
bringing nature’s cycle round in full.
Next spring the young will return, with hopes,
as prairie pothole exerts its pull.
These photos were taken July 16, 2020.
American Coot—you can just see the chick behind it