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In 2007, residents of the Woodbend community learned of plans for a large gravel project proposed for the river valley in the environmentally sensitive area of Big Island/Woodbend. The residents and other citizens started the “Community Gravel Pit Opposition Committee”, which initiated a petition advocating for a thorough environmental assessment.

Organizers felt strongly that the impact of the gravel pit project, if approved, would put at risk the entire North Saskatchewan River Valley. The petition was signed by 7,771 Albertans and was presented in the Legislature on December 1, 2008. During these discussions, it became apparent there was no organization with the sole purpose of advocating for the conservation of the river valley itself.

Organizers incorporated the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society (NSRVCS) in 2008 to intervene on behalf of Edmontonians regarding land-use policy issues concerning the river valley and tributary ravines.

On May 18, 2011, after a three year debate, Edmonton City Council voted down the application to turn one 34 hectare section of the Big Island/Woodbend Natural Area into a gravel pit. Councillors voted 7-6 against rezoning the parcel of farmland thereby disallowing the extraction of 1.8 million tonnes of gravel by the applicant.

The Society has since continued to advocate for the area and to date has approximately 438 members from across the Capital Region and other parts of Alberta.