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News from March 2019

Meet the 2019 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

March 26, 2019

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta. Learn how these 19 groups will be putting their 2019 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Bighill Creek Preservation Society

Following recommendations from Alberta Environment and Parks, the Society are continuing their second year of water quality analysis work on the Bighill Creek. The Society will extend their sampling efforts into the upper creek basin, water sampling at seven sites and soil sediment sampling at four sites. These monitoring efforts will fully reveal the overall water quality within the Bighill Creek basin and validate the scientific data the group has collected.

Calgary River Forum Society

Their work this year builds on the momentum from the Society’s 2018 project and will investigate the impacts of engineering projects in the Elbow River on the location and number of Brown Trout redds spawning nests. Using citizen science, geo-location mapping and educational efforts, the Society will determine and communicate the impacts of current projects on spawning nests.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership

The Partnership will be conducting phase two of their State of the Watershed Report, which includes data compilation, analysis, finalizing content and publishing an online mapping tool. The project is a continuation of an inclusive and collaborative effort to provide a snapshot of the current physical condition of the basin.

Foothills Restoration Forum

The Forum, in partnership with Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative, will develop and deliver a two-day workshop on “Assessment Tools and Best Management Practices for Reclamation in Native Grasslands in the Northern Fescue Natural Subregion”. The workshop will be designed for reclamation practitioners, students, agrologists, ecologists, land managers, regulators, planners and anyone interested in learning the tools and best management practices for assessing and restoring native grassland ecosystems.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

The Friends will be completing their “Tree Mapping: Informed Stewardship in Fish Creek Provincial Park” project. The project includes extensive and systematic data collection about the location and status of wrapped poplars in Fish Creek Provincial Park using an existing digital application created by Alberta Environment and Parks. This work will prioritize and organize stewardship outings to unwrap or rewrap trees at risk of girdling as well as remove invasive species, collect litter and plant native trees and shrubs along riparian areas.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

For this project, the Friends will be conducting research on recreational rock dams as there has been an increase in sightings of these structures by volunteers involved in the Park Watch Program. There is limited local research on the subject of rock dams and there is concern these structures may negatively impact creek ecology by creating obstacles or barriers to fish passage, impacting water quality or altering stream characteristics. This research will determine the impact of rock dams and act as a foundation for creating new public outreach messaging to educate park users as well as redefine the Park Watch Steward role to include the dismantling of these structures.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society

The Society has several activities planned for their education, outreach and collaboration program for 2019. Activities include hosting a bio-engineering field day for the community, investigating opportunities to utilize science graduates to address information gaps in the State of the Watershed report, conducting a camp clean-up day, and hosting an AGM and Membership Forum.

Jumpingpound Creek Watershed Partnership

The Partnership will be conducting surface water quality monitoring that will help establish baseline conditions, measure future changes in water quality, direct resources to improve land management practices where needed and contribute to a local understanding of the water resources.

Lac La Nonne Enhancement & Protection Association

In an effort to make Klondike Park’s existing educational centre interactive and engaging, the Association is installing signage that promote sustainable activities at points of interest on the lake. They will also be using native plants in landscaping and installing bat and bird boxes for the benefit of wildlife. In addition, they will be updating their website and increasing their social media efforts to further promote the park’s educational centre.

Livingstone Landowners Group

With their grant, the Group will be producing and distributing five short educational videos to engage and educate landowners, nature clubs and others wanting to better understand landscape hydrology and stream ecology. The videos will use conventional, aerial drone and underwater videography and on-site interviews with experts and stakeholders to show how landscape hydrology, stream ecosystem health and water security are connected through natural processes and influenced by land use decisions.

Love the Lake

The group will use their grant to hire a summer student who will remove the noxious weed, Himalayan Balsam, to prevent the weed from re-infesting the shoreline of Pigeon Lake. In addition, the group will be educating residents and visitors on the importance of using native species in landscaping and the ecological consequences of noxious weeds.

Mayatan Lake Management Association

The Association will be implementing their Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan through several activities including hosting an educational field day for local grade 5 students, partnering with Parkland County on educational signage and collaborating with the Alberta Lake Management Society on water quality monitoring.

Milk River Ridge Reservoir Working Group

The group will be planting native trees and shrubs on the edge of the Reservoir to enhance the riparian area and decrease erosion. This work will slow runoff from the Milk River Ridge, protect water quality and increase biodiversity. The group will also install signage along the shoreline to educate the public on the importance of a healthy riparian area for the benefit of the watershed.

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

NCC’s project involves implementing a conservation planning process designed around NCC’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) framework. The NACP is a partnership NCC initiated with the federal government to accelerate the rate of private land conservation and protect important natural habitat in communities through planning and adaptive management. In 2019, a large part of the NACP process will involve Conservation Priority Mapping, a collaborative process that will develop and update mapping products to help inform conservation priorities, land use planning and partnership opportunities at a fine scale all across the Red Deer River watershed.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA)

The LakeWise: Invasive Species Citizen Action Project, led by PLWA, is a local initiative to address critical issues threatening the ecological health and recreational value of Pigeon Lake, and economic health of the region. A key part of the overall LakeWise program, the project which will empower the community with the knowledge and tools to help keep aquatic invasive species out of Pigeon Lake and to contribute to the eradication of noxious and invasive plants in the Watershed.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is partnering with a local stewardship group, the Lake Isle, Lac Ste Anne Water Quality Management Society, to reduce the presence of Flowering Rush within the watershed. Through training and removal workshops by partners and community volunteers, these efforts will reduce the need for herbicidal spray and reduce the presence of this prevalent, invasive species.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association

This project focuses on improving stewardship of wetland and riparian habitat in Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) through two main activities: delivering the 8th annual Wetland Field Day for local Grade 5 students and launching a two-year project to build resilience for little brown bat populations in WBR. The Association will provide landowners with information and support to identify bat concentrations/roosting areas on their properties, conduct bat monitoring, and implement best practices for roosting and foraging habitat management.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

Building on the momentum of their 2018 project, the Society will be conducting year two of their Weaselhead South West Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) Impact Study 2019. The SWCRR is currently under construction along the western edge of the Weaselhead Park (located at the head of Glenmore Reservoir) and, following completion, is expected to carry ~100,000 vehicles per day. The study will allow timely action to be taken to correct sediment spills and concerns regarding wildlife movement across the construction zone and will improve understanding of the environmental impacts of such projects and the effectiveness of common mitigation measures.

West-Central Forage Association

The Association will be creating a series of educational videos to be featured on their website and social media channels, which will communicate their stewardship work and address the importance of positive interactions between lake users and the environment.

Collaboration is the New Black

March 10, 2019

While not as trendy as the latest business buzzwords, collaboration, in its many forms, is the key to success for many non-profit organizations today. Learn how Land Stewardship Centre has taken collaboration to the next level, working closely with others to reduce overhead, leverage connections and increase impact.

New opportunity, new approach

For 23 years, Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) has embraced collaboration, recognizing it’s better to avoid duplicating efforts and, rather than reinvent the wheel, work closely with others to improve and roll the wheel farther along. For LSC, collaboration has traditionally consisted of sharing information and working with others on various projects and initiatives to achieve common goals. But in 2015, when fellow non-profit Nature Alberta was seeking a new Executive Director, an opportunity presented itself for the two organizations to work together in a unique and innovative way, and take collaboration to a new level.

A good fit

Recognizing a natural alignment between their respective visions and organizational mandates, LSC and Nature Alberta established a strategic partnership that enables more efficient and effective operations and management of both organizations through a shared-services model. Under this arrangement LSC provides staff, administrative, operational as well as strategic and program planning support to Nature Alberta. But both organizations remain independent entities.

“Nature Alberta had a need, and LSC had the resources,” explains Brian Ilnicki, LSC’s Executive Director. “Given the connections and networks we have in common, when the idea of sharing services was proposed, it made sense to both our boards to pursue the opportunity.”

No risk, no reward

Both organizations took a bit of a risk by trying something new to them. But, nearly four years later, it goes without saying this leap into the unknown has paid off for both LSC and Nature Alberta. With the ability to co-apply for grants, cross promote initiatives to elevate awareness, reduce operational and administrative costs, expand networks and more, the mutual benefits to each partner continue to accrue.

The success of this first shared-services partnership with Nature Alberta established a pattern that has sparked a flame. In 2017, a similar opportunity arose and LSC became the official secretariat of the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network (ESBN), welcoming their current coordinator into the LSC family. Once again, LSC was able to offer seasoned management and operational support to help further the ESBN’s efforts to advance knowledge of ecosystem services and biodiversity, and the use of market-based approaches to enhance these services.

Most recently, in late 2018, LSC was engaged by the Beaver Hills Biosphere (one of only two UNESO biospheres in Alberta), to lend administrative, management and governance knowledge and experience to support, guide and elevate their efforts to advance projects and support partners’ efforts in the Biosphere.

Mutual respect, mutual success

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Increasing competition for a shrinking pool of resources has non-profits thinking beyond traditional approaches and embracing inventive new ways to get things done. LSC has woven collaboration with like-minded organizations into the fabric of its daily operations and, together, all involved have become enhanced versions of themselves because of it.

LSC encourages others to look at collaboration with a unique and innovative lens as well. When there are limited resources available, it makes more sense to band together, because we truly go further – and accomplish more – along the way.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller