Did you know that Heritage Park has wetlands? That’s right! In 2008, the Bissett Wetlands officially opened on a patch of land on the northwest corner of Heritage Drive and 14 Street SW. This new area of wetlands was specifically designed to collect and cleanse runoff water from our plaza and parking lots before it returns to the city’s storm water system.
How it Works
The rainwater runoff begins its journey in the parking lots as it flows to collecting drains that are strategically placed along the edges of the lots. From there, it continues to the marsh where light silt, chemicals and toxins, such as hydrocarbons from vehicles, are absorbed by the roots of some aquatic plants that originated from another marsh!
This cleaner water then flows over a small waterfall, which adds oxygen to the water to reduce algal growth, and into the larger pond. As the water moves through this pond, it is cleaned even further before returning to the Calgary’s storm water drains and, eventually, the Bow River.
The Importance of Wetlands
The Bissett Wetlands makes for an attractive habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrates! And wetlands are an extremely important part of the ecosystem in the prairies with many animals, including beavers and migratory birds, calling it home. They were also an important source of water, food, materials and recreation for First Nations peoples, explorers and early settlers.
Unfortunately, between the 1930s and 1970s, over 70% of Canada’s wetlands were lost due to cultivation of farmland and our ever-expanding cities. This makes the Bissett Wetlands an important step in the recognition and protection of these incredibly important lands.
Interested in Learning More?
Want to learn more about the importance of wetlands in Western Canada? Heritage Park offers interactive educational programs for elementary students. In addition to these fascinating programs, our upcoming Discovery Days program on May 29 will be focused on wetlands and is available for students of all ages!
And if you’re interested in learning more but happen to be out of school, feel free to stop by the Bissett Wetlands for a day and explore! Check out the interpretive signs for additional fun facts and keep your eyes peeled for the wide variety of animals that like to hang out at the marsh.