Between COVID-19, the recession, and the provincial government cutting funding for vegetation control, the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation and the provincial park it oversees have been hit hard this spring.
The park's robust base of visitors has been reduced to a trickle, completely drying up in-park donations Only those who can access the park through nearby trail systems, bike or being dropped off can enjoy the diverse natural and historical features of the park.
Its expansive spring educational programming is also gone.
"We do the bulk of programming in the March to June months, so to have it all cancelled is a huge hit to the revenue we get through our educational programming. And we cover general programming, operation costs and programmers costs through those funds," says GRPF executive director Sarah Parker.
Adding to that challenge is the Alberta government's decision just weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak to cut weed control funding to Alberta parks.
Weed control is paramount to maintaining its natural grasslands. Replacing the funding is the number one goal of the foundation right now, says Parker, admitting its a difficult time to raise funds.
She says taking just one year off from their extensive vegetation control program will have a lasting effect.
"Every time you step foot in the park, you're stepping on to some of the last untouched grasslands in our province, and that's a huge responsibility to all of us to preserve it. That's one of the main functions of our foundation to preserve those grasslands for the next generations."
The temporary closure has also been hard on the park's many volunteers, who donated their time to enhance the experience for visitors. For one, they are heavily involved in organizing the Jane Walks, which have been cancelled.
"We love doing those because they allow us to do free tours for people who may not have seen the park or know it's history. Our volunteer love planning those tours and showcasing the park."
Established in 2007, the park continues to grow in popularity with each passing year.
"Just in my time working with the foundation, I've seen many more young families, many more new Canadians, so it has become a real asset to many."
"We miss seeing everybody."
In the meantime, the staff continues its work. They're adding content to their website, planning summer programs and adding online resources for parents to utilize.
Park volunteers have been capturing images of the park that are being shared.
"If you're really missing the park, follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We're putting up a few shots of what the park looks like right now for people who need their daily dose."
There are many ways to help support GRPF.
You can find the full details here.