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Meet the 2011 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted September 8, 2011 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 2011 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in a variety of community-based stewardship projects. Then click here to learn more about the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program.

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
The Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition will focus on increasing the number of volunteers and stewards by providing numerous stewardship training courses, setting up field days for youth to understand the importance for caring for watersheds and wild lands. In addition, in an effort to recruit new volunteer stewards, the group will attend a variety of public events, from festivals and hikes to school outreach.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
The Clear Hills Watershed will continue to monitor water quality within the county to add to an ongoing database of watershed information. They will also raise awareness of the watershed through various public events such as Alberta Water Quality Awareness (AWQA) day, where children will be engaged in water related activities such as restocking fish in a lake.

Clear Water Landcare
Clear Water Landcare is in the process of building their awareness and education group locally. The group intends to help revitalize stewardship groups and share Landcare concepts more broadly by bringing an expert from Australia to speak to Landcare practices in that country, and discuss how they can be applied to Alberta situations.

Cochrane Branches and Banks Environmental Foundation
This group will restore habitat at Bighill Creek, plant 500–1000 native trees to stabilize slopes at Cochrane Ranche, and work with the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee (CEAC) to plant trees in a highly impacted wetland area. The group will also raise awareness with and engage the public and youth to assist at planting days.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Elbow River Watershed Partnership is developing and implementing a pilot groundwater monitoring program using wells drilled for a wastewater treatment plant. Their findings will be used to support the recommendations set out in the Elbow River Water Management Plan and the Bow Basin Watershed Management Plan, as well as determine what activities in the watershed are still contributing to decreasing water quality in the Elbow River.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society have are involved in various projects including water and wildlife monitoring, invasive weed control, beaver management, speakers’ series, park watch, and park and trail care. They are going to expand their public outreach to engage the larger community, which will allow them to involve more volunteers in all of their projects.

Friends of Kananaskis Country Cooperating Association
Post-secondary students have been trained to deliver watershed protection programs to elementary, junior and senior high students. The intention is to teach students about sustainable watershed management and how to care for the water systems. The group is also planning a stewardship day during which students will plant willow stakes along the Elbow River.

Friends of Little Beaver Lake Society
The Friends of Little Beaver Lake Society are developing a visual gallery which includes locally made videos, tabletop displays, posters, photographs and a parade float. The group aims to use these resources to increase awareness and knowledge of local watershed issues, which will lead to increasing community support and the adoption of practices to help protect the watershed.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
Working with Cows and Fish, 42 riparian health inventories will be carried out over 109 kilometers of riparian areas and wetlands in the Ghost Watershed. The results of these inventories will be used as baseline data for management planning within the watershed, and to provide groups members, volunteers and the general public with a better understanding of the importance of riparian health.

High Prairie Riparian Action Team
The High Prairie Riparian Action Team plans to conduct three riparian health assessments, two at new sites and one site reassessment. The group will use the assessment sites as a measurement of progress and change in the riparian areas during and after restorations. The results of these assessments will determine if the sites may require offsite watering systems or exclusion fencing.

Highwood Water Management Plan Core Group
The Highwood Water Management Plan Core Group is working with a consulting firm to perform a surface water and groundwater quality assessment, which will provide the group with an overview of the ground and surface water quality, and illustrate the interactions between the two sources. The results will be used to advise stakeholders, revise a management model, and used to build a technical memorandum.

Keepers of the Water-Pembina River Watershed
The Keepers of the Water are consulting with a water ecologist to continue a water monitoring and watershed assessment, which will be used to help develop an outreach program for the community. The group wants to encourage citizens to take responsibility for observing and reporting on the health of the water and wetlands to the Keepers through a toll free number.

Lac La Nonne Watershed Stewardship Society
The Lac La Nonne Watershed Stewardship Society project includes creating The Nakamun Handbook, which will include site-specific details such as lake boundaries, environmental reserves and zoning, recreational features and more. The group is also hosting a weed education day, which will enable residents to identify noxious and invasive weeds around the lake, and help them understand why controlling noxious and invasive weeds is important for the health of the watershed.

Love the Lake
The Love the Lake group at Pigeon Lake will hire summer students to patrol the shoreline and remove the invasive Himalayan Balsam, educate lakeshore homeowners, encourage volunteers to participate in invasive plant removal, and present at the Summer Villages Annual Information Meetings. Students will be trained on proper invasive plant removal and handling by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and they will also document the results of their shoreline patrols.

Mayatan Lake Management Association
The Mayatan Lake Management Association will be documenting and summarizing all of the current information available about Mayatan Lake in a State of the Watershed Report. The report will include information such as history, watershed characteristics, water quality and aquatic ecological information. The report will then be used to develop a Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan in the future.

Milk River Ranchers Group
The Milk River Ranchers Group will be designing invasive weeds awareness signs to address the concern of the spread of invasive weeds throughout the watershed, and to create a learning opportunity for watershed residents, group members and visitors to Milk River.

Moose Lake Watershed Society
The first part of their project is a Watershed Show & Share, which consists of a daylong workshop that allows local watershed groups to gather in one place and share their programs, concerns and successes. Moose Lake Watershed Society will also coordinate the Walking with Moose day-long field trip for Grade 5 students to learn about the local ecosystem and watershed and understand how every-day decisions affect the watershed.

Nose Creek Watershed Partnership
The Nose Creek rehabilitation project involves many volunteer-based restoration activities including native tree and shrub plantings, weed pulls and clean-ups. These activities all focus on educating basin residents about how they can contribute to a healthy watershed. The group also delivers water, riparian, erosion and fisheries monitoring programs, the results of which are presented to the community and elected officials for decision making purposes.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Pigeon Lake Watershed Association offers many stewardship programs including environmental workshops, home site assessments, shoreline clean-ups, as well as various publications for residents to learn about reducing their impact on the lake. The group will to provide information for homeowners and visitors about reducing nutrient loading in the lake which results in blue-green algae outbreaks.

Society of Grassland Naturalists-Medicine Hat Interpretive Program
The Society of Grassland Naturalists is planning a digital storytelling workshop where participant will learn to produce educational videos that will use personal stories and experiences to teach people how to live with beavers in a shared environment. The videos that result from the workshop will be used in displays and posted online.

Tawatinaw Watershed Stewards
The Tawatinaw Watershed Stewards propose to monitor riparian areas damaged by livestock and human activity, and then restore these areas through invasive plant species removal, implementing grazing management systems, and continuing monitoring started in 2010. The group will engage Cows and Fish to help them with assessments and to design the grazing management systems if needed.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society
The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society is aiming to maintain and restore the natural ecosystem within the park through invasive plant removal and to raise public awareness of invasive species in the watershed. They will host outdoor education programs, which reach 4500 children and 500 adults a year, and attend public events to raise awareness and recruit volunteers.

Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association
The Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association will complete their State of the Watershed Report, which highlights the current conditions of the watershed. They plan to use the report to develop action plans for the future, and improve the health of the watershed by raising awareness with local residents.

Benchmark Report Released on Biodiversity in South Saskatchewan Region

Posted August 23, 2011 by LSC

EDMONTON, August 23, 2011 – The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) released its Core Report entitled “Status of Biodiversity in the South Saskatchewan Planning Region – Preliminary Assessment 2011” which serves as a benchmark for the environmental health of the region.

The report states that 49% of the South Saskatchewan Planning Region (SSPR) has been directly altered by human activities including agriculture, urbanization and energy operations. When considering only the Grassland Region of the SSPR, 57% of the landscape has been directly altered by human activities.

The report concludes that the overall status of native biodiversity is 54% in the Grassland Region of the SSPR. In addition, non-native weeds were found across 100% of the region.
“Biodiversity is fundamentally to the health of our economy, communities, and to the stewardship our environment,” says Kirk Andries, ABMI Executive Director. “This report sets the baseline health of living resources in one of the busiest regions in our province. These results will be used to support regional planning and resource management practices by tracking how the environment is changing in the decades to come.”

The SSPR represents 13% of Alberta’s land area and is home to 45% of the provincial population. This region is expected to continue experiencing significant agricultural, urban, and energy related land-use pressures in coming decades. As watershed and land-using planning continues to mature in Alberta, the status of biodiversity will be fundamental to setting regional ecological benchmarks and objectives, and to providing the foundation for evaluating the future outcomes of resource management across the province.

Over the next few years, the ABMI will broaden its assessment of biodiversity in the SSPR to include the status of mammals, wetlands, lichens, and mosses. With time, these same assessments will be available for all other land use planning regions as well as customized regions throughout the province.

“The work the ABMI is doing, and the scientific data we are collecting, will play a significant role as the province implements a cumulative effects approach to managing the environment and ecosystem,” adds Andries. “With this program Alberta can be proud that it is a global leader in monitoring environmental health.”

For more information about ABMI and to download the report and supporting documents visit the ABMI website.

Media inquiries can be directed to:
Jim Herbers
Director, Information Centre
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Telephone: (780) 492–5766

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