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Meet the Fall 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted April 10, 2016 by LSC

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta. Read on to learn how these groups will be putting their Fall 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
In previous years the Friends of Fish Creek embarked on projects to engage park users and nearby residents as volunteers in hands-on stewardship activities to restore damaged streambank areas. This year’s project will help support the Friends’ efforts to foster the long-term sustainability of each project, such as monitoring and supporting the viability of plantings. Trained volunteers will be monitoring the restoration sites recoding data about the state of the planted vegetation, and the effectiveness of fencing. The group plans to track achievements through use of annual photographs showing improvement in riparian health due to native vegetation growth.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
In Spring 2015 the Government of Alberta’s Southern Alberta Fisheries Habitat Enhancement and Sustainability Program (FISHES) program identified Waiparous Creek, a major tributary to the Ghost and home to Westslope Cutthroat Trout, as a priority area for restoration of fish habitat. Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) will be working with the Backcountry Trails Flood Rehabilitation Team and the FISHES program to successfully improve fish habitat post flood 2013. The groups will work to restore at least one site in the Ghost Watershed with bioengineering techniques, and then create a digital story to share their efforts more broadly.

Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society
Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society will be working with the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society, Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), Battle River Watershed Alliance and Flagstaff County to increase awareness of beneficial management practices, plant riparian buffers and host a series of workshops. The groups will be planting a mixture of trees and shrubs, approximately 20,000 seedlings, on 20 acres of private property adjacent to watercourses. They will also work with landowners of the planting properties, as well as others in the county, to complete site assessments and provide suggestions for improved management practices. A series of workshops will be held to provide information to landowners on the implications of degraded land adjacent to Iron Creek from a water quantity and quality perspective, and their ability to influence biodiversity and primary productivity.

Mayatan Lake Management Association
Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA) will focus on implementation of recommendations from the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) completed in the fall of 2015. MLMA will host educational workshops, create a package of education materials for lake residents, work with the municipality to integrate IWMP recommendations into land use legislation, hold a Family Lake Day, install educational signage at the Mayatan Boat launch, install equipment to measure and complete a report on changing water levels of Mayatan Lake, and consult with landowners to pursue projects to improve damaged riparian areas around the lake. Everything MLMA will undertake is to preserve and protect Mayatan Lake and the surrounding area for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association will be building on the momentum of their Wetland Field Day. The Wetland Field Day provides approximately 100 grade 5 students with the opportunity to spend a day exploring wetlands and associated grassland habitat at Police Outpost Provincial Park. The field day delivers a hands-on pond study and additional activities compatible with the Alberta Grade 5 science curriculum. It will be supplemented with class presentations before and after the event. In addition, this project will bring into focus riparian stewardship on local rangelands – instead of focussing simply on exploring wetlands in parks and protected areas it will also provide an opportunity for students to learn about how wetland values are being conserved by neighboring ranchers.


CreekWatch Releases Water Quality Report Card

Posted March 24, 2016 by LSC

In celebration of World Water Day (March 22) RiverWatch’s citizen science program, CreekWatch, released its first annual “Report Card” on the quality of water in Alberta urban stormwater creeks.

The CreekWatch Report Card scores are based on water quality data collected by 24 active and trained volunteers from HSBC Bank Canada, Keepers of Mill Creek and GE Water, as well as two science technicians. From June to October 2015, they spent an estimated 130 hours conducting 178 site visits and collecting 1,500 water samples on urban creeks which function as conduits for stormwater runoff in Edmonton and Calgary.

Creek scores were obtained by awarding points for eight parameters, including dissolved oxygen, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen, phosphorus, temperature, conductivity, turbidity and macroinvertebrates. Higher points were awarded for the best values in each parameter. A top score for each of the eight parameters would result in a total possible score of 56.

2015 CreekWatch Report Card on Alberta Urban Creek Water Quality
(score out of 56)
1 Fish Creek, Calgary Score = 47 (least impacted)
2 Pine Creek (Calgary) Score = 39
3 Blackmud Creek (Edmonton) Score = 38
T 4 Whitemud Creek (Edmonton) Score = 37
T4 West Nose Creek (Calgary) Score = 37
6 Mill Creek (Edmonton) Score = 36
7 Nose Creek (Calgary) Score = 28 (most impacted)

“We are sharing our findings with the public, watershed planning and advisory councils, watershed stewardship groups, industry operators, provincial monitoring agencies and government water quality professionals to promote and advance collaborative efforts that support the consistent monitoring and water quality improvement of our urban creeks in Alberta.” Jim Gendron, RiverWatch Board Chair

“As we developed the Report Card, it became apparent that there is a range of creek water quality in Edmonton and Calgary. While infrastructure and stewardship projects are currently underway on each creek, our ranking system does highlight differences between creeks. It also suggests that improvements can be made in the lower ranked creeks by emulating best management practices taking place on the higher ranked creeks.” Reed Froklage, CreekWatch Citizen Science Coordinator

CreekWatch by the Numbers:

  • 7 urban storm water creeks in Edmonton and Calgary
  • 24 volunteers from HSBC Bank Canada, Keepers of Mill Creek and GE Water
  • 2 science technicians
  • 11 organizations and/or individuals provided advice and support to the project, including Alberta Environment and Parks, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton, Bow River Basin Council, North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, EPCOR, Web3 Marketing, Exova, Miistakis Institute, Salmo Consulting and Kevin Weimer

Learn more about CreekWatch. For more information please contact Reed Froklage, Citizen Science Coordinator, CreekWatch C (403) 369–8499 E science@riverwatch.ab.ca


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