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Meet the 2014 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted June 25, 2014 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 2014 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) will bring community, academia and non-profit groups together to restore the riparian habitat health of the north and south arms of Pine Creek. The group will begin with a baseline study and assessment of the current state of Pine Creek, and the installation of a monitoring system to track water quality and quantity. This will be followed by the development of a restoration management plan with short-term (one year) and long term (five year) goals. Once the plan has been approved the ASCCA will work with partner groups to complete the initial restoration actions such as tree-planting, channel design and bank stabilization projects. On an annual basis the ASCCA will generate reports, which will be made public, highlighting the monitoring successes and concerns to be dealt with in the following year.

Baptiste and Island Lakes Stewardship Society
Baptiste and Island Lakes Stewardship Society is beginning phase one of developing a watershed management plan. They will develop terms of reference identifying who should be involved in developing a watershed management plan and establish the structure under which participants will contribute. Included in the terms of reference will be an outline the vision for the lake’s watershed, which will identify the priorities, scope and scale of the management plan. They will also develop an engagement plan to determine the tools and methods which will be used to effectively communicate with all the stakeholders.

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
The Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) will be increasing awareness and education of the impacts of land use on headwaters and on how to prevent aquatic invasive species from introducing themselves in the area. They will concentrate outreach efforts on increasing their presence in the Castle at campsites and staging areas, and attending fairs, festivals, local events and farmers markets. The CCWC utilize staff and volunteers for riparian assessments and restoration projects and for participation on the Oldman Watershed Council’s Headwaters Action Plan. They will also continue to work on stewarding the watershed and the backcountry by removing invasive species, closing illegal off-road vehicle trails, and clean-up of random campsites.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
Clear Hills Watershed Initiative (CHWI) will continue with water quality monitoring which was started in 2007, and adoption of the beneficial management practices (BMP) for the watershed. The group is looking for trends in the quality of water and any significant changes as they implement the BMPs. CHWI will also maintain their presence in the community by attending the Clear Hills County Agricultural Trade Show as an exhibitor, hosting an annual supper and upgrading their website.

Clear Water Landcare
Continuing with work started in 2012 and 2013, Clear Water Landcare (CWL) will be performing a total of 14 riparian health assessments along the Raven and North Raven rivers, and the Prairie and Cow creeks in 2014. The riparian health inventories provide CWL with important and detailed riparian information as benchmark for comparison, build stronger relationships with local landowners, and offer education opportunities to promote better practices and improvements to the landscape. The group will hold an open house to deliver the summary report of all the assessments to the community, and will use the work from 2014 as a basis for future projects.

Friends of the Chain Lakes Society
Friends of the Chain Lakes Society (FCLS) has witnessed a decline in the quality of the water, the increase of algae bloom and the decline of the fish population. As a result, FCLS had Alberta Lake Management Society performed water quality assessments on two of the three lakes the group is concerned with. The first lake was determined to be hyper-eutrophic, and the group now needs to ascertain if the riparian areas around the lake are one of the contributing factors to the poor water quality. In partnership with Ponoka and Lacombe Counties, the group will work with Cows and Fish to complete riparian assessments around the first lake. They will also be monitoring water quality in the third lake. They will use the information gained from their efforts to inform the various stakeholders about problem areas and to determine their next projects.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society (FFCPPS) is taking a three-pronged approach to using their Watershed Stewardship Grant this year. This approach includes focusing on developing a water quality baseline to understand the current state of Fish Creek’s surface water quality by examining trends over the past seven years of data collected; eradicating invasive species and encouraging native plants communities to establish; and increasing public awareness of the Fish Creek watershed and fostering responsible park use through an annual Creekfest water festival, public talks, guided walking and minibus tours, displays at community events and hands-on stewardship activities.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) is developing a State of the Watershed report. Their report will improve understanding of how natural features and processes influence watershed conditions, provide insights into the linkages between watershed health and past and current land and water uses, identify sensitive and at-risk areas; provide basis for future watershed planning, and allow GWAS to prioritize future activity. Throughout the process of completing the report, GWAS will also build relationships with stakeholders in the Ghost Watershed.

High Prairie Riparian Action Team
High Prairie Riparian Action Team (HPRAT) will be completing a five year riparian health inventory of projects completed over the last 13 years. Projects range from fencing to management changes. Follow up riparian health assessments will be done, along with landowner discussions, to determine if the project was a success from their perspective, and what the outcomes of implementation of the project were on the landowner’s operation. This year, four sites have been chosen for follow-up inventories and landowner feedback. It is important to HPRAT that the work completed is benefiting the producer, the operation and the ecosystem. HPRAT will use the results to provide before and after comparisons, as well as better project design and follow through in the future.

Keepers of the Athabasca
Keepers of the Athabasca are partnering with Living Lakes Canada to provide training opportunities in the upper portions of the Athabasca Watershed using the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) methodology. CABIN training will provide the group with the tools necessary to conduct consistent, comparable and scientifically credible assessments of streams. Overall, Keepers of the Athabasca wants to increase the understanding of watershed health, increase the community’s capacity of assessing watershed health, and create a watershed stewardship ethic in Upper Athabasca communities. At the end of the certification, field monitoring, data entry and assessment a report will be produced and distributed to all community members.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society (LCARF) is completing the third year of their baseline water monitoring project. The group will be hiring an environmental scientist to take samples from April through October and to complete a report on the results. The results from the monitoring will be used to help inform planners, landowners and other stakeholders in the watershed. The group will also be completing a riparian restoration to reduce sediments and runoff entering the creek being monitored. LCARF plans to use the completed three years of water monitoring data to help direct future work, which may include work on another watershed or a native grass restoration project.

Love the Lake
Love the Lake is beginning its fifth year of Himalayan Balsam eradication efforts around Pigeon Lake. Over the past four years, despite the Himalayan Balsam being a very aggressive invasive plant species, Love the Lake has managed to bring this invasive species under control and significantly limited its range around the lake. Love the Lake involves members of the local community to increase awareness of not using invasive species in gardens and the importance of controlling invasive species found around the lakeshore. It is possible with this final year of the program, that with sustained effort, the plant may be completely eradicated from around the lake, with only minor infestation locations remaining.

Moose Lake Watershed Society
Moose Lake Watershed Society (MLWS) will be completing a handbook which will include: the history of Moose Lake; lake boundaries and information about the watershed; lake information such as water quality, tributary sampling and water quantity; bathymetric map, aerial photos, land use maps; wildlife, aviary, plant and fish biodiversity including sensitive areas; environmental and municipal reserves; as well as MLWS projects and initiatives. The handbook will enable MLWS to actively engage the public and bring awareness to some of the issues the lake faces such as blue-green algae, zebra and quagga mussels, Himalayan Balsam and nutrient loading. Ultimately, the group wants the handbook to help increase stewardship in the watershed and encourage participation in MLWS.

Red Creek Stewardship Group
Red Creek Stewardship Group will begin their project by conducting two riparian heath inventories to help determine the overall health of Red Creek and what issues may exist. The group will then improve some of the riparian areas in the watershed by installing fence to exclude cattle from the sensitive riparian areas, and by using portable wind breaks and salt to encourage the cattle to move upland. In the riparian areas where the cattle will be excluded, the group will re-establish willow and shrubs. The entire project will be used as a demonstration site to engage other landowners in stewardship initiatives showing how similar projects can benefit the watershed.

Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society
Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society’s objective is to collect water quality and flow rate data from Golf Course Creek from April to September in order to calculate the nutrient loading of Sylvan Lake. The group plans to take approximately 20 water quality samples, and collect stream flow rate, temperature, pH and conductivity information. A technical report will be compiled, and the data in the report will be used for early detection of the effects of land use changes within the catchment and nutrient loading of the lake flows from the tributaries that drain into Sylvan Lake. The report will also be used to deliver the results of the project to project funders, as well as the Town of Sylvan Lake, the community of Marina Bay and Red Deer County to support local land use decisions.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA, in partnership with the Cardston Elementary School, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, and the Foothills Restoration Forum, will provide 100 grade five students with the opportunity to spend a day exploring wetlands and associated grassland habitat at Police Outpost Provincial Park. In addition to exploring wetlands, the students will learn about local riparian stewardship efforts and how wetlands are being conserved by neighboring ranchers. WBRA believes that getting children out into the natural world, to experience the environment first hand, rather than just learning about it in a classroom, is vital to building strong connections to the land and building a stewardship ethic at a young age.

West-Central Forage Association
West-Central Forage Association (WCFA) will be conducting a riparian health education program with 4H groups in the west-central region, teaching members about the impact that agricultural systems can have on shoreline health and water quality. As part of this project, WCFA will host several educational events in both workshop and field day formats. Youth will learn the importance of maintaining a healthy riparian area for overall watershed health and for better water quality. Youth will test water quality, assess shoreline health, and learn how to identify and manage local plant species—focusing on reducing invasive species. Ultimately, the group believes that by teaching youth about best management practices that protect riparian areas, and consequently the water that lies within them, they will not only discuss these practices with their families, but also put these practices into action within their own future operations. This makes regional agriculture more sustainable environmentally, agriculturally and economically for present and future generations.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS) will be continuing their invasive plant program. The project aims to: reduce the abundance of targeted invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and biodiversity; prevent new species of invasive plants becoming established; increase understanding and awareness among the community of invasive plants, the problems they cause, and how to combat their spread; and restore native vegetation in the Weaselhead. WGPPS has a large volunteer component to their project to educate and increase awareness of invasive species. This brings the community together to improve conditions in the park.

Western Sky Land Trust
The Bow & Beyond Initiative is designed to engage private landowners in conservation with the ultimate goal of perpetually conserving their land through a variety of tools including conservation easements and land purchases or donations. In 2014 the initiative will focus on lands along the Bow and Elbow Rivers upstream of the City of Calgary to the provincial and national park systems. Western Sky will meet with 250 individual landowners along these stretches of river, assessing and documenting their receptiveness toward land conservation. The Green Acreages Guide will be offered to these landowners as a resource to encourage healthy land management. Their goal is to conserve 3,000 acres of land and six miles of river front over the next five years.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
The basis for Wabamun Watershed Management Council’s (WWMC) project comes as a direct result of a quote in their recent State of the Watershed Report: “Lack of information on the quality of riparian habitats and loss of wetland habitat is an important knowledge gap in determining the condition of the watershed. Both riparian areas and wetlands provide many important ecosystem services to the environment; including, carbon storage, flood control, contaminant filtering, wildlife habitat and many more. Maintaining and protecting these features on the landscape can ultimately lead to a healthier watershed.” To address this lack of information, WWMC will conduct an aerial survey and have it professionally analysed to establish potential for maintaining existing healthy riparian areas and for re-establishing healthy riparian areas where they do not exist.

Click here to learn more about the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program.

Congrats to This Year's Emerald Award Recipients

Posted June 9, 2014 by LSC

2014 marked a banner year for the Emerald Awards, setting a new record for the number of Awards presented! Congratulations to this year’s 17 Emerald Awards Recipients:

Education: School or Classroom – Presented by Enbridge

  • Lacombe Composite High School

Public Education and Outreach (2 recipients) – Presented by Shell Canada

  • Ducks Unlimited
  • SAIT Polytechnic & Avalon Master Builder

Emerald Challenge Award: WATER (2 recipients) – Presented by Encana Corporation

  • Alberta Lake Management Society
  • Southern Rockies Watershed Project Team

Shared Footprints Award – Presented by Alberta Real Estate Foundation

  • Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)

Government Institution – Presented by ATCO Electric & ATCO Gas

  • Office of Sustainability, University of Alberta

Youth – Presented by ConocoPhillips Canada

  • SLISE at Queen Elizabeth High School

Community Group & Nonprofit Association (3 recipients)

  • Camp Maskepetoon
  • The Miistakis Institute
  • Solar Energy Society of Alberta

Large Business

  • Statoil Canada

Small Business (2 recipients)

  • Tannas Conservation Services
  • Waldron Grazing Co-Operative Ltd.

Individual Commitment (3 recipients)

  • Polly L. Knowlton Cockett
  • Barry Kolenosky
  • Bob Peel

In addition to the 17 Emerald Awards, present two special awards were also presented:

People’s Choice Award – Presented by ABCRC

  • Herman Chang and Hillview School

Ron Kruhlak Award for Emerging Youth – Presented by McLennan Ross LLP

  • Henry Wise Wood High School – Environment Club

Learn more about the 2014 recipients and their projects on the Emerald Awards website

Watch the 22nd Annual Emerald Awards Ceremony online.

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