Local elk farmer Frank Kuhnen has donated more of his private land for the public to enjoy, adding to the conservation lands in the Lacombe area.
In total, Kuhnen and his wife Rosalie have donated 205 acres of land to Lacombe County between two properties. Seeing families gather to enjoy the natural space makes it all worth it for Kuhnen because he can “give something to people that I never had in my life.”
“I never had one minute where I regret doing it when I see the amount of people using it, including the [Trans] Canada Trails there.” Kuhnen said. “For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a young lady with 4 or 5 children going hiking or biking. To me, that’s really something because I, in my life, lost my mother at a young age and never knew her.”
Located south of Alix on Range Road 23-0, the 65 acres overlooks the Red Deer River. The trails lead from the forested grounds to lookout spots on the north bank and then down to the river. The grand opening of the Kuhnen Natural Area was held on June 18.
The natural paths were developed by Kuhnen and the county has no plans for any further developments, according to Dale Freitag, director of planning service at Lacombe County.
“He actually developed the path that goes down to the river so there are some natural trails that are already there. We’re just leaving it in a path state, just a natural area. [There are] some informational signs on the trails so people can read about the area, but for the most part this is just going to be natural,” Freitag said.
The property is a hidden gem where you can hike by the river, see deer nimbly weave between the trees or listen to the harmonizing calls of the birds and ducks in the evening. Donating the space to the county is to ensure that it is protected for future generations to enjoy.
“Our family enjoys it, they still enjoy it, but we don’t use it so why not share it with everybody else? You don’t do any harm to anybody so that’s just the kind of people we are,” Kuhnen said. “But the important thing is keeping it in the same condition it is. We don’t want it to go to private hands and build a house on it; it’s too important of a property for just a few people to enjoy.”