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After the Flood

Posted July 3, 2018 by LSC

In 2017, Foothills Land Trust received a Watershed Stewardship Grant to support their Highwood River Floodway Resiliency and Restoration Project. Read on to learn how they have used the grant to protect land in perpetuity, mitigate the effects of flooding, create community champions and enhance one of Alberta’s watersheds.

Since 2006, the Watershed Stewardship Grant has provided over $1.9 million in funds to local, grassroots groups who are working hard to protect and enhance Alberta’s watersheds and water resources. In 2017, Foothills Land Trust was one of those recipients. Their project aligned harmoniously with the Government’s Water for Life Strategy. With the support of WSG funding and other funding partners, their project, to restore and maintain watershed function along the Highwood River, has had a significant impact within the greater Bow River Basin watershed.

The Power of Water
During the devastating Southern Alberta floods of 2013, the Highwood River, which is located in the Bow River Basin watershed, overflowed its banks and subsequently flooded several rural residential properties, mainly on the south side of the river. As many homes and other structures in the floodway were seriously damaged, the Government of Alberta obtained several properties through the Disaster Recovery Program and, through Foothills Land Trust, placed conservation easements (CE) on 131 acres of riparian habitat upstream of the Town of High River. These CEs are being managed by the Foothills Land Trust to protect and restore riparian habitat for flood mitigation, drought resiliency, water quality protection, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.

Protecting for the Future
Knowing how important ongoing stewardship is, and following the placement of these CEs, Foothills Land Trust formed the Spitzee Riparian Stewardship Society. The Society, which is comprised of local volunteers living near the CE properties, and which operates under the direction of the Foothills Land Trust, has been instrumental in restoring, protecting and monitoring these properties. They also raise awareness and educate the community about the importance of riparian areas, as well as responsible stewardship of the CE properties.

The Society’s efforts are directed by the Riparian Habitat Management Plan that was created by the Foothills Land Trust and the M.D. of Foothills. The document is intended to help guide the Foothills Land Trust and the Society with stewardship, restoration and monitoring of the CE land parcels in collaboration with the MD of Foothills and other project partners.

Sharing With Others
All the resources prepared by the Foothills Land Trust and the Spitzee Riparian Stewardship Society are intended for use by other watershed stewardship groups. Their CE Agreement can be used as a template for others interested in doing similar work, saving time and legal fees. Their Management Plan and Baseline Study can also be used by others as a guide for how to identify different areas for different management strategies. You can connect directly with both organizations at spitzeestewardship@gmail.com and www.foothillslandtrust.org/contact.html

Did You Know?
A Conservation Easement (CE) is a land management tool, which protects land for the purpose of preserving environmental and/or scenic and/or agriculture values, usually in perpetuity, to safeguard them for generations to come. Learn more about CEs in Alberta.

A land trust is a non-profit organization that has as one of its core objectives, the acquisition of interests in land (e.g., conservation easements) or the acquisition of land for the purpose of conservation. Most land trusts focus on conserving the biological values of land, but across the continent land trusts have been established to protect scenic, historical, agricultural and recreational lands as well. Learn more about land trusts.

Some comments...

  • Rob Gardner says:

    Hi there! I am interested in what specific activities the stewardship group is doing. In the first photo, the people seem to be pruning the poplars. Is this a positive action?
    Rob

  • Land Stewardship Centre says:

    Hi Rob. The top photo you refer to shows them harvesting local native plants (in this case willow branches) to be used in the restoration project. For more information about specific activities the stewardship group is engaged in please connect directly with both organizations at spitzeestewardship@gmail.com and www.foothillslandtrust.org/contact.html>

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