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The Society:

Riverlot 56 Natural Area Society is a group of volunteer stewards who lease and manage Sturgeon County’s Riverlot 56 near St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. The Natural Area is a provincially owned and protected area for environmental, educational and recreational purposes. Meetings of the Society are held quarterly.


The Riverlot:

Riverlot 56 is one of the original parcels of land divided during the settlement of the region during the early 1900’s. The federal government owned and used the site for one of the first Indian residential schools before educational services spread to the northern districts.

In 1965 the land was transferred to the provincial government. Five years later it was designated as the location for the new campus of Athabasca University. However, the proposal for the location of the university was altered in 1971 and people began to use Riverlot 56 informally for outdoor education and recreational activities.

Since 1973 local groups have recognized the value of the site and have worked to ensure that Riverlot 56 is maintained as a natural setting for outdoor education and recreation. The site received a designation of protection by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas in 1987 (Site ID 67495), and is an IUCN Category II protected area.

People living in the vicinity have long valued Riverlot 56 for its natural qualities. Wishing to ensure the protection of those natural values, individuals from different organizations met in 1980 to form the Riverlot 56 Natural Area Society; ultimately, the Riverlot 56 Society were granted a lease to manage the area as a “Natural Area”. Its goal is to preserve the physical and ecological diversity of the area while promoting nature-oriented educational and recreational activities. In 1985 the Society was granted a recreational lease that has helped the members in their efforts to preserve this valuable land.