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Stewardship Showcase

Posted July 15, 2017 by LSC

Have you heard about what this group is doing? We’re pleased to introduce you to the Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council and their unique and innovative wetland restoration and ATV trail enhancement project.

Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council

Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area, which runs along approximately 30 km of the North Saskatchewan River, contains many kilometers of unmanaged off-highway vehicle (ATV) trails. These trails traverse several wetland and watercourse features in the river’s riparian ecosystem. The current layout and extensive use of these trails has resulted in severe vegetation loss, erosion, compaction and sedimentation of wetlands in this area.

For a small, non-profit organization, the magnitude of the Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council’s recent wetland restoration/trail enhancement project in the area is impressive, to say the least. Now in its second year of a three year project, and with a project budget of three quarters of a million dollars, the Council has completed a significant wetland restoration and extensive trail enhancements. Twenty-three small wetlands (21 hectares in total), scattered along 21 km of a trail system previously disturbed by seismic lines, pipelines, and well pads, and subsequently off-highway vehicles, have been restored. In addition, three flowing watercourses now have bridges. An additional 20 km of ATV trails have been closed and ATV traffic re-routed.

Executive Director of the Council, Peter Lee and his group credit Land Stewardship Centre’s Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program for helping to get the project rolling.

“The WSG funding we received help get this project off the ground because we could use these funds specifically to support our project planning,” offers Peter. “This is something a lot of grants do not allow, but it was critical to our ability to leverage other funds and that set the stage for the success of this initiative.”

The magnitude of the project is not the only thing that makes it stands out. What also makes this project unique is that the Council was tackling wetland restoration and trail enhancements within a provincially protected area regulated under the Provincial Parks Act.

“Because we are working in a regulated area, there are certain restrictions and expectations in place that presented unique challenges we had to overcome,” explains Peter. “Challenges included flowing watercourses whose banks and riparian habitats were being over-run with ATVs, and trail braiding and rutting.”

When beginning their project, the Council felt it was not appropriate to simply prohibit further access to the area by recreators who have accessed these public lands for the past thirty years. So not only did they enhance and restore disturbed wetlands, they created a safer ATV trail system that will allow continued use of the area by families recreating outdoors with all-terrain vehicles. The Council hopes this project can be a template for not only how other groups can tackle wetland restoration within provincially protected areas that allow ATVs, but also becomes a model of best practices for similar management issues on all public lands that allow ATVs.

Peter is also quick to share the Council’s gratitude to all the individuals and organizations (more than 12 partners overall) who contributed to the success of this project. Partners included Alberta Parks, University of Alberta, Arc Resources, Gen7 Environmental Solutions Ltd., DV Rentals Inc., Drayton Sand and Gravel (2003) Ltd., Built for U, Redneck Fencing and Cattle Co., Nelson Bros, 5 Star Locating Ltd., and Karach Welding and Construction, as well as Land Stewardship Centre.

“We received tremendous support from the community to undertake this restoration work,” adds Peter. “They provided not only cash, but also in-kind and moral support. We couldn’t have done this without them. It is an exciting project for the Eagle Point – Blue Rapids Parks Council and for the residents of the Brazeau County and Town of Drayton Valley.”

More Info

The Eagle Point Provincial Park and Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area conserves an important wildlife corridor between the Foothills Natural Region, the Boreal Natural Region and the Aspen Parkland. The Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council manages and protects this area.

Are you a community stewardship group with a watershed project that needs support? Learn more about the Watershed Stewardship Grant program.

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