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Celebrating 10+ years of Watershed Stewardship

Posted September 10, 2018 by LSC

“When the well is dry, we will know the worth of water.” Benjamin Franklin

2018 marked the 12th year that Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) has been administering the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) program. Since 2006, the WSG, funded by Alberta Environment and Parks, has been supporting grassroots stewardship groups in Alberta who are working hard to protect water and watersheds in their communities. Take a walk down memory lane with us as we reminisce about the last decade+ of watershed stewardship and the WSG’s impact in Alberta.

A Program With Purpose

As climate change, development pressures, and water quality and quantity concerns started becoming increasingly pressing issues, the Alberta Government created the Water for Life Strategy to ensure Alberta’s watersheds are protected now and in the future. Since its inception, the WSG program, which provides funding for collaborative, community-based stewardship efforts, has been supporting the principles, goals and outcomes of Alberta’s Water for Life strategy.

A Program With Impact

Over the past 12 years, nearly 130 grassroots stewardship groups have received more than $1,700,000 through the WSG program to develop and implement more than 300 projects in communities across Alberta. The WSG has funded a wide variety of initiatives and projects from restoration activities to educational efforts.

For example, in 2015 the Love the Lake group received funding to combat invasive species at Pigeon Lake and, as a result, they were successful in eradicating Himalayan Balsam in the area by employing an innovative new technique. Just this year, Southern Alberta Land Trust Society will be developing an online, shareable and publically accessible conservation mapping tool in an effort to provide important data to stakeholders working to protect watershed and riparian health within the Bow River watershed. Take a look back at past WSG recipients and their projects

A Program With Meaning

However different the WSG projects may be, they all share the common goal of enhancing, restoring or protecting Alberta’s watersheds. Another commonality is that WSG funding has been critical for these groups to not only undertake but sustain their volunteer-driven stewardship activities. When asked what the WSG has meant to them, several past grant recipients had the following to say:

“The WSG has been instrumental in enabling us to do the work that we do as an organization, and we hope that support continues,” offers Walter Neilson, president of the Mayatan Lake Management Association. Check out this video clip of Walter explaining how the WSG has helped them achieve their stewardship goals.

“Our local watershed and creek are a significant legacy for our community,” explains Gerry Bietz, President of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society. “Without public recognition of its importance and broad-based support for its protection, the value of this special area would be eroded and potentially destroyed by peripheral development.” Lyse Carignan, Treasurer for the Society, adds that without WSG funding, they simply could not do the work they do. Learn more about their work.

Blake Bartlett, Chair of the Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association, is also quick to point out that their Association and its committed volunteers couldn’t do what they do without the support of funding programs like the WSG. “The WSG funding is essential to assisting small, volunteer-driven stewardship organizations to deliver top-notch projects that protect Alberta’s watersheds,” Blake explains. Learn more about their work.

A Program Worth Investing In

To demonstrate the importance of the WSG program, with volunteer in-kind and other contributions, groups are able to, on average, leverage the WSG funding at a rate of 4:1. In 2017, stewardship groups received $190,000 in grant funds which they were able to use to leverage over $500,000.

From LSC’s perspective, it is so rewarding to hear these passionate testimonies, see the completed projects and be able to support these grassroots groups in such a meaningful way. LSC is very grateful to Alberta Environment and Parks for funding the WSG, which enables these groups to achieve impactful, on the ground results to safeguard our water resources.

Learn More, Stay In Touch

For more information about the WSG program, and how and when to apply visit our website.

Also, stay tuned for an exciting new feature coming to the LSC website. This fall, we will be launching our new, digital story-map to highlight past WSG projects across Alberta. You will be able to browse past projects by location, see pictures and videos, and connect with other groups.


Implementing an Ecosystem Services Approach in Alberta

Posted October 10, 2017 by LSC

Land Stewardship Centre is a partner in the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network which is a multidisciplinary group of experts working to build the knowledge required to assist with the implementation of an ecosystem services (ES) approach in Alberta.

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystem services (also referred to as “ES”) are the benefits that humans receive from nature including provisioning (e.g. food, fuel, fibre, fresh water), regulating (e.g. air quality, climate regulation, erosion control, water quality), cultural (e.g. spiritual enrichment, recreation, aesthetic experiences) and supporting services (e.g. production of oxygen, soil formation).

Why are we looking into this?

Over the past several years many organizations, various levels of government, academia and industry have been exploring ways to integrate ES into planning and decision-making on working landscapes in Alberta. An important element of this approach is to identify current and future information needs. To meet these needs, solutions need to be developed that are practical, science-based, easy to understand and communicate.

How can we move an ES-approach forward?

In direct response to this need, LSC lead a series of sector-based workshops and outreach sessions across Alberta in an effort to help support the development of a recognized, comprehensive ES approach that can be adopted by governments, resource-based industries, landowners and land managers, and conservation organizations.

Summary reports for individual sector workshops and a final report for the workshop series are available for download here:


Stewardship Showcase - September 2017

Posted September 19, 2017 by LSC

Since 2006, the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program, made possible with funding from Alberta Environment and Parks, has provided grants to the province’s stewardship community to support their efforts. Meet a recipient of the 2017 WSG grant, Bighill Creek Preservation Society, and learn what they are doing to protect their watershed and enhance water quality in Southern Alberta.

Bighill Creek Preservation Society

From its sandstone cliffs to its oxbow wetlands, the Bighill Creek Watershed, which stretches for several miles north and east from the town of Cochrane, is a gem of ecological quality and diversity. Recent encroaching population pressure and local industrial activity have placed greater strains on the watershed. A strong desire by the community to protect the watershed, and its significant local and regional ecological, historical and recreational assets, led to the formation of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society in 2015.

“Our local watershed and creek are a significant legacy,” explains Gerry Bietz, President of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society. “Without public recognition and broad based support for its protection, the value of this special area will be eroded and potentially destroyed by peripheral development.”

Other creeks in the surrounding areas (Jumpingpound Creek, Horse Creek and Nose Creek) have already been assessed. But there was no data or assessment done for Bighill Creek. This gap in information spurred the Society to undertake their first project, and in 2017 the group received a Watershed Stewardship Grant to complete a baseline water quality study for Bighill Creek.

It is a significant project and the Society has been working with landowners, Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre, Cows and Fish, Trout Unlimited, Cochrane Environmental Action Committee, Cochrane Foundation and the Bow River Basin Council to complete the water quality assessment. “It is great to work with all these groups together on a common goal,” shares Lyse Carignan, Treasurer for the Society. “It really increases the impact and efficiency of the project.”

As they continue their work on this project, slated to be finished next summer, the Society has learned some important things along the way. “Without funding, we could not do the work we do,” Lyse adds. “Hiring a professional biologist, performing the lab analysis – all of this takes money to make it a reality.”

The Society is encouraged by the funding they have been able to obtain from Land Stewardship Centre and other partners, and see it as a big first step towards other exciting things they have planned for the future, such as a fish habitat study and riparian zone assessment for the creek. “We may be a fairly new group, but we are determined and resourceful, and committed to the long term preservation of the natural and historic attributes of the Bighill Creek Watershed,” Gerry proudly states.

Learn more about Bighill Creek Preservation Society

About the WSG

Since 2006, 127 grassroots watershed stewardship groups have received more than $1,700,000 to develop and implement nearly 300 projects in communities across Alberta.

Do you have a project in mind that can make difference in your local watershed? Learn more about the WSG program and subscribe to our Grassroots News for grant opening and closing dates.


What’s in your Stewardship Toolbox?

Posted September 18, 2017 by LSC

How can a group or municipality achieve the best and most needed environmental outcomes for their projects with limited resources available? That’s where INFFER™ comes in. Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) is the single accredited provider of INFFER™ in Canada. Read on to learn how and why INFFER™ is one fascinating stewardship tool and how one Alberta municipality is putting it to work for them.

INFFER™ (Investment Framework for Environmental Resources) is a valuable decision support tool used for assessing and prioritizing projects to address diverse environmental issues and challenges such as reduced water quality, biodiversity, conservation planning and land degradation. The main goal of INFFER™ is to achieve the highest value for environmental, economic and social outcomes that is possible with available resources.

Municipalities, among many other organizations, face the challenge of how to get the best bang for their buck when implementing environmental programs and projects. Recently, our partners from Natural Decisions, the creators of INFFER™, travelled from Australia to assist LSC in an INFFER™ project currently being conducted in partnership with Brazeau County.

In early 2017, Brazeau County had the opportunity to participate in an INFFER™ project funded through the Agriculture Watershed Enhancement Program, which is a dual grant stream offered by Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. By using the INFFER™ assessment tool Brazeau will be able to compare the environmental and social outcomes and cost effectiveness of potential conservation initiatives, enabling them to select the approaches best suited to addressing their most important issues in a given area.

“Funding was available to participate in INFFER™ and Brazeau County saw it as a valuable tool to evaluate environmental projects happening in the County, on behalf of producers,” explains Benjamin Misener, Manager of Land and Environment with Brazeau County. “It allows us to be strategic and thoughtful when making these types of decisions.”

Guided by Natural Decisions and Land Stewardship Centre, the INFFER™ process is being used by Brazeau County to focus on an area of importance, identify issues associated with water quality in this area and then help the municipality understand how to address these issues in the most effective manner that considers not only economics, but also environmental and social factors, as well as the goals that have been set by the County for this area.

Misener goes on to explain how important it is to have a tool like INFFER™ to assess environmental programs and projects, especially when spending funding dollars, to be able to provide accountability and transparency. “It is important to have this type of framework to assess projects,” Benjamin adds. “By using INFFER™ we can compare the potential outcomes and cost effectiveness of different projects and ultimately, this enables us to develop a solid business case for environmental investment in restoring and protecting valuable natural assets.”

Learn more about INFFER™ and how it can assist with prioritizing your conservation efforts.

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Photos: Anna Roberts (left) and Geoff Park (right) recently visited Edmonton from sunny Australia to assist LSC with the Brazeau County INFFER™ project. Learn more about Natural Decisions and INFFER™ in Australia where it originated.


Stewards in Motion Inspires

Posted May 17, 2017 by LSC

Jane Ross, President with the Association for Life-wide Living (ALL) of Alberta, sits down with LSC’s Outreach Coordinator, Alexandra Frederickson to discuss LSC’s Stewards in Motion, the power of working locally and the release of ALLs highly praised new book.

ALL of Alberta’s mission is to inspire creativity and health through our landscape, our communities and the arts. What makes ALL unique is their efforts to thread together people with the local environment; creating this unity between landscapes and those who live on it.

The group, currently celebrating their 13th year, focuses their attention on three main programs including rural transportation, place-based writing and an annual event held in January to encourage people to enjoy, rather than suffer through, the winter season. The underlying theme in all of the groups’ efforts is to connect people, stories and landscapes.

Connecting through Stewards in Motion

In 2013, ALL participated in LSC’s Stewards in Motion (SIM) workshop in the Battle River area and left feeling inspired. The regionally focused SIM events have become a highly regarded LSC initiative that serves as a rally call to connect all stewards at a community level regardless of focus, affiliation or discipline.

“We really benefitted from the Stewards in Motion workshop,” shares Jane. “It brought people together from the local area who all share an interest in watersheds and working together to achieve healthy landscapes. It also deepened and broadened relationships between us and other local volunteers and groups.”

An underlying theme in ALL‘s efforts is to connect people, stories and landscapes. The SIM workshop approach, with its regional focus, is similar to the model for the ALL conference in 2012. The conference, titled ‘Culture, Creativity and Place’, attracted Battle River area residents, First Nations, Settlers and new Canadian immigrants.

“The conference was intended to bring consciousness to the Battle River region, its resources, and the significance the river holds for people in the region,” explains Jane. Interestingly, the conference and the river led several ALL members to Australia in September 2016 for Culture, Creativity and Place II. This time, the conference focus was on the Hopkins River and the Aboriginal, settler, and immigrant people of Victoria State, Australia.

From conference to collected works

Ultimately the conference inspired and became the theme for ALL’s new book titled Beauty Everyday: Stories from Life as it Happens. The theme of ALL’s book is exemplified by the vitality of rivers which ebb and flow, and ultimately connect people. Just as rivers take us on journeys, so do the stories in the book, which are told by real people who have lived in and called the Battle River region their home. The book has been met with positive reviews from scholars, organizations and individuals alike.

“Editor Jane Ross and her collection of diverse writers, have managed to create an anthology of special significance and lasting impression. These compelling narratives of adversity, challenge and triumph are influential and illuminating on their own, indeed. However, when set within the rich historical context of the Battle River region of Alberta, these stories are empowered by the remarkable spirit and energy of this land. The intersection of the spirit of people with that of the Battle River ensures the reader of a uniquely transformational and memorable journey.” Michael C. Chettleburgh, Author, Founder/CEO of Astwood Strategy Corporation and Writer for Globe and Mail, Toronto.

The book release prompted Dr. Andrew Creed of Deakin University to invite ALL to participate in and co-host the conference in Australia that would embody the book’s theme and illuminate the power of stories and connecting people with the landscape. The connections continue with ethnographic filmmaking about the people and landscapes of the Hopkins River and the Battle River. In November 2017, Aboriginal landscape artist, Fiona Clarke, will visit Alberta where she will be available to speak with individuals and groups about the power of creativity for lands, water and people.

Following the success of the book and the conference, ALL continues to connect people and their local landscapes through creativity and the arts; highlighting “places that matter” and the power of working and appreciating your local environment – looking inward first before looking outward.

Learn more

WSG Funding Cancelled by Government

Posted June 29, 2016 by LSC

Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) was recently informed by the Government of Alberta, Environment and Parks that our application for $250,000 in Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) funding for 2016 was not approved. As a result, no funding will be available for the WSG program this year.

LSC was notified that the decision not to fund the WSG program was based on budget restrictions. This is unfortunate and extremely disappointing for the Watershed Stewardship Groups who depend on this grant as a means to design and deliver community-based programming that directly supports the Alberta Government’s Water for Life Strategy. As this was an annual grant program, at this time, LSC is uncertain what this decision will mean for the long-term future of the Watershed Stewardship Grant program.

LSC has implemented the WSG program in Alberta since 2006. In that time, more than $1.8 million dollars have been allocated to 127 community-based Watershed Stewardship Groups across Alberta, with an additional $5.7 million leveraged through partnerships. Throughout the history of the program, Watershed Stewardship Groups have worked collaboratively with local municipalities, local land owners and land managers, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and other conservation organizations to design and deliver in excess of 300 projects. These groups and their projects have all contributed to bringing the Water for Life Strategy goals to life, and making healthy aquatic ecosystems, reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy, and safe, secure drinking water a reality.

Over the years, the Watershed Stewardship Grant program has clearly enabled Watershed Stewardship Groups to bring about positive action and deliver results in their communities across Alberta. We have been continually amazed at the high level of commitment and professionalism that these stewardship groups have displayed as they developed and carried out projects that advance the goals of Water for Life and support the Alberta Government’s recently announced Climate Leadership Plan.

LSC is disappointed that the Government of Alberta has elected to no longer support these community stewardship efforts. However, LSC is committed to continuing to support Watershed Stewardship Groups through our own programming which includes the Alberta Stewardship Network, Resources for Stewards, Grassroots News and the online Stewardship Directory. Looking ahead, LSC will begin to explore ways to access new sources of funding that could be used to support the valuable work of the Watershed Stewardship Groups. We will also continue to work with the Government of Alberta, advocating for the reinstatement of provincial financial support for grassroots stewardship groups and the important work they are doing in communities across the province to the benefit of all Albertans.

For more information regarding the Government of Alberta’s decision you are invited to contact:

Mr. Robert Stokes, Executive Director
Strategic Relationships and Engagement
Environment and Parks
9th fl Petroleum Plaza ST
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone: 780 422–2690
Fax: 780 421–0028
Email: robert.stokes@gov.ab.ca


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.


Seeking New WSG Committee Members

Posted December 21, 2015 by LSC

Have you got what it takes? We’re recruiting for new Watershed Stewardship Grant Review Committee members.

The WSG Program

Since 2005, the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program, made possible through the Government of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy, has provided funding to the province’s stewardship community to support their grassroots efforts and community-based projects.

Since then, 127 grassroots watershed stewardship groups have received more than $1,700,000 to develop and implement nearly 300 projects in communities across Alberta, which have in turn contributed to ensuring:

  • A safe, secure drinking water supply,
  • Healthy aquatic ecosystems, and
  • Reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.

About the WSG Review Committee

The purpose of the volunteer WSG Review Committee is to review all applications, provide feedback and to make final decisions for fund allocation.

Committee Member Position Description

WSG committee members are expected to provide in-kind time to review applications and attend up to two (2) full day meetings per year. Meetings are typically held in a central Alberta location as determined by the membership. WSG committee members are supported by the Stewardship Program Coordinator

Committee Member Roles and Responsibilities

  • Review all eligible WSG applications provided to committee members by the Stewardship Program Coordinator in advance of the review meeting.
  • Attend the WSG review one day meeting to select successful applicants and allocate the grant funds for that specific year.
  • Participate in additional meetings or conference calls, as required, to assist with implementation of the WSG Program.

Qualifications

  • Knowledge of stewardship and community based stewardship groups in Alberta.
  • Detail oriented and committed to meeting deadlines.
  • Computer proficiency.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with individuals and/or groups.
  • Previous grant review work is an asset.

Contact Us

For more information and to submit your resume for consideration, please contact Jenna Curtis, Stewardship Program Coordinator at jenna@landstewardship.org or 780–483-1885 extension 222.


Meet the (spring) 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted September 18, 2015 by LSC

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta.

Read on to learn how these 21 groups will be putting their (spring) 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Watershed Grant Recipients

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
With a focus on the health and restoration of the Castle Wilderness, the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) will be continuing to build on work done in previous years. CCWC will continue invasive plant removal in recognized areas of high use while continuing to reach new areas for monitoring and reclamation. They will participate and host stewardship events and hikes to engage volunteers, encourage stewardship and create awareness on how to maintain a healthy watershed to sustain the headwaters and land. CCWC will also provide input into various planning frameworks including the West Slope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan, the Headwaters Action Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
Clear Hills Watershed Initiative (CHWI) will be creating awareness of the group and their efforts to improve the watershed within the community. CHWI will upgrade their website, participate in county newsletters and the local paper, continue surface water quality monitoring and host an annual Community Supper. For 2015, CHWI is focused in gaining further participation from young people through engaging local schools, a youth category in their photo contest, and the Fish in Schools (FinS) Program.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
To increase the awareness and understanding of the watershed, Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) is continuing to provide the Freshwater Field Study Program. The program is designed to increase watershed literacy, and give students hands on learning opportunities, such as learning how to measure water quality in a professional and scientific way, to experience the headwaters of the Elbow and Bow rivers. Students from grades 8, 9 and Biology 20, as well as school teachers, volunteers and program interns learn how minimizing negative impacts on land uses help maintain water quality and quantity.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society (FFCPPS) 2015 project consist of three components; first FFCPPS has a public awareness and education campaign. The campaign has a goal of increasing public appreciation of the Fish Creek watershed through a wide variety of opportunities such as talks, guided walks and minibus tours, displays at local events, an annual water festival and hands-on stewardship activities. Secondly, FFCPPS focuses on watershed stewardship such as weed pulls, tree wrapping, clean ups to improve the quality of habitat and foster responsible park use by engaging volunteers and park users. Lastly, FFCPPS will host a riparian restoration in the lowest reach of Fish Creek. Based on riparian health inventories done in 2012 and 2013, FFCPPS will develop a restoration strategy then will work to restore 500 metres of stream bank with over 50 volunteers.

Foothills Land Trust
Foothills Land Trust will establish conservation easements on floodway riparian properties along a stretch of Highwood River to create a monitored corridor to naturally mitigate future floods, to improve water quality, to improve biodiversity and to improve wildlife movement. Once these easements have been created they will help to establish a stewardship group to help monitor and maintain the conservation easements. The stewardship group will increase knowledge, awareness and participation in activities that restore and enhance the ecological connectivity and function of these Highwood River riparian lands. Overall the project aims to enhance community capacity to restore and maintain watershed functions on this specific land base and beyond by creating a hub of activity, resources and information dedicated to watershed stewardship.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
In spring 2014 the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) initiated the preparation of the Ghost River State of the Watershed (SOW) report. GWAS developed Terms of Reference for the project and has initiated the formation of a steering committee comprised of stakeholders, industry representatives, local residents, local and provincial government, and NGOs amongst others. For 2015 GWAS will hire ALCES Landscape & Land-use Ltd. to compile and write the SOW with the help of the knowledgeable individuals on the steering committee. The SOW will assess the state of the watershed within a comprehensive report, and identify important issues and plan how to address them within a watershed management plan.

Highway Two Conservation
Highway Two Conservation recognizes that diffuse pollution, sedimentation and habitat degradation stemming from current cropping practices lowers water storage capability of surrounding land, lowers biodiversity of riparian areas and negatively impacts water quality. So their project will focus on working one-on-one with crop producers to protect, increase or create riparian buffer zones. They will also host workshops, create potential demonstrations sites, work with local youth during education days, complete an aerial survey, organize a river clean-up day along the Pembina River and organize weed pull days targeting ox-eye daisy, scentless chamomile and Himalayan Balsam.

Keepers of the Athabasca
The project builds on the momentum generated in year one of the Upper Athabasca Community Engagement for Watershed Health Project. In partnership with Living Lakes Canada, Keepers of the Athabasca’s project the Upper Athabasca Watershed Health Assessment will use the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN ) protocol to engage and train community volunteers in citizen science data collection. This knowledge will increase the understanding of watershed health and fills the gaps and data deficiencies, a valuable tool used to communicate watershed health to members of the public. The project will also engage with aboriginal and non-aboriginal community members in understanding watershed health to go beyond data collection. It will support the inclusion of water data and traditional ecological knowledge to direct policy and planning efforts, building a stewardship ethic among the community.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society (LCARF) aims to spread awareness of the importance of riparian health, increase knowledge of native grasses and improve water quality through the encouragement of beneficial management practices in the watershed. As a part of LCARF’s ongoing effort to measure water quality and establish Horse Creek’s status in comparison to the Alberta Surface Water Quality Guidelines, they will be performing their 4th year of monitoring. LCARF will hire Palliser Environmental to complete water quality monitoring and produce a report on the findings. They will also be hosting field days to increase knowledge about water, native and invasive vegetation.

Love the Lake
Love the Lake is a group of over 150 watershed residents who have made a commitment to protect the ecosystem of Pigeon Lake by resolving to follow best practices for watershed stewardship. Love the Lake is in the 6th year of eradicating Himalayan Balsam from the Pigeon Lake watershed. The Himalayan Balsam, which is classified as a prohibited noxious weed because of its aggressive tendencies to dominate a riparian area, has been effectively brought under control through this eradication program. Continuing efforts are required to complete the program in a few gardens and bush areas which have been identified and to do final sweeps of the shoreline to ensure the plant is completely removed. Love the Lake will also be following up with a 2014 pilot to remove accumulating biomass on the shoreline to an adjacent lawn, so it no longer a shoreline nuisance for residents or contributes to nutrient loading in the lake.

Nose Creek Watershed Partnership
The Nose Creek Watershed Partnership (NCWP) completed the Nose Creek Watershed Water Management Plan (WMP) in 2007. The WMP recommended a Long-Term Water Monitoring Strategy that was implemented for five years, from 2009 through 2013. The NCWP has shifted focus from water monitoring to the implementation of beneficial management practices (BMPs) to improve water quality. To implement BMPs that can effectively improve water quality, an accurate understanding of the sources of pollutants, specifically fecal coliform bacteria, is required. Before resources are directed to implementing BMPs that may reduce fecal coliform bacteria counts, the NCWP will seek to better understand sources within the watershed using microbial source tracking techniques.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Pigeon Lake Watershed Association is initiating a three year project around surface water quality and low impact development planning and implementation to engage, inform, incent and guide Pigeon Lake watershed residents and municipalities to reduce the external nutrients and contaminants entering the lake through water runoff. The project has three stages: the foundation where PLWA will work with low impact and living by water organizations to determine project strategies, methods and materials; the framework stage in which PLWA will engage through outreach, surveys and workshops then create demonstration sites, information and education materials, a phot0 bank and more; and the roll out stage which further outreach to the community will occur including incentives, inspiration, support, and friendly competitions to encourage changes and showcase creative actions.

Ridge Reservoir Working Group
The Ridge Reservoir Working Group (RRWG) is a new group and is working towards establishing itself as a community minded body. The intention is to perform projects which contribute to the bank stabilization of Ridge Reservoir, improvement and protection of water quality, and securing and enhancing wildlife habitat within the Ridge Reservoir Watershed. Initially RRWG will be assessing the land within the watershed to identify at risk areas and where and how improvements can be made through health inventories. Then the results of the assessment will determine next steps such as remote watering systems, fencing of riparian areas or tree planting. The group will have ongoing monitoring and reporting of project areas to identify successes on areas to be improved upon.

Society of Grasslands Naturalists
The Grasslands Naturalists and their educational group, the Medicine Hat Interpretive Program, are going to do a study of the 2015 river and riparian area within Medicine Hat. This will become a benchmark to keep track of the health of the river for years to come. Part of the project will be to develop photo points that can be re-visited on a regular basis to monitor changes to vegetation, erosion, and river health. Information gathered will be shared on a website featuring photography with dates to show changes. This data will also be used in public programs, special group and school programs, and displays. The goal is to create involved, knowledgeable, and caring citizens as the basis for a healthy, strong community living in a stable sustainable economy.

Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed
The vision for the Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed (SLLBWS) was created in partnership with Living Lakes Canada and the Keepers of the Athabasca. The SLLBWS is building its capacity by becoming a legal entity, creating a representative membership, increasing its profile in the community through outreach projects and using this membership and presence to begin implementing the recommendations set out in the 2009 Lac La Biche Watershed Management plan which contains a set of established, measurable goals for the stewardship of the watershed.

Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society
Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS) main objectives are to preserve/restore naturally functioning ecosystems within the Weaselhead Park, and to advance the education of the public in conservation and environmental protection. Their 2015 Invasive Plant Program will allow them to reduce the abundance of targeted invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and reduce 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 offer opportunities for young individuals to gain experience in environmental field-work and stewardship.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
Wabamun Watershed Management Council’s (WWMC) vision of Lake Wabamun watershed is one of healthy ecosystem with a community that shares its collective responsibility to be the best stewards of that environment. To help achieve this vision, WWMC will be developing a new website. WWMC requires a website which is more user-friendly and effective as a tool to educate users about watershed stewardship. A more effective website will allow for an increase in awareness and understanding of local environmental issues and solutions, distribution of the activities of the WWMC among recreational users, businesses, decision makers and residents affecting the Wabamun watershed.

Wetland Grant Recipients

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
In partnership with the Hines Creek Museum, Clear Hills Watershed Initiative will be restoring access to wetlands located behind the main museum grounds. The wetlands will have walking trails which will be accessible for bird watching and informational field trips for schools and other interested groups. Part of the project will be constructing a raised boardwalk along part of the trail, which will allow wetland access without damage to the integrity of the wetland. The project will also include signs highlighting the benefits wetlands provide to the community.

Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council
Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area contains several kilometres of unmanaged all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails that traverse several wetland features in the riparian ecosystem of the North Saskatchewan River. The current layout and condition of these trails is resulting in severe vegetation loss, erosion, compaction and sedimentation of wetlands in this riparian area. Eagle Point–Blue Rapids Parks Council, through collaboration with landowners, recreation groups, municipal and provincial government, and industry will design an off-highway vehicle trail system better suited to the sensitive ecosystems in the area. In addition, an ecological restoration plan will be created to restore severely damaged areas in order of priority.

Society of Grasslands Naturalists
Society of Grasslands Naturalists will be upgrading and refining their wetland programming including incorporating material specific to south eastern Alberta and comparing local wetlands to different types of wetlands in other parts of Alberta; adapting or developing materials to assist in understanding the roles different organisms play within the ecosystem; providing more materials for different ages groups. They will also install a floating dock which will allow students to sample directly from the wetland. The floating dock will protect the shoreline, allow more student involvement, and create a “science lab in a park”.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association will provide approximately 100 grade 5 students from Cardston Elementary School with the opportunity to spend a day exploring wetlands and associated grassland habitat at Police Outpost Provincial Park. The field day will deliver a hands-on pond study, additional activities and supplemental class presentations before and after the event. In addition, this project will bring into focus riparian stewardship on local rangelands – instead of focusing 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.

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


The Stewardship Toolbox is Here

Posted November 27, 2014 by LSC

Starting a community stewardship group can be a daunting task. There are so many things you need to think about; so many things you need to do. Where do you start?

There are so many resources out there; so much good advice. You’re a volunteer who is passionate about a cause. How do you make sense of it all?

From years of working with and supporting community stewardship groups, Land Stewardship Centre can offer some insight; a light to guide your path.

While there is a lot more detail you’ll need to consider once you get underway, sometimes keeping it simple is the best approach to getting things off the ground. So, to help you, The Stewardship Toolbox highlights 10 things you should do to get your community stewardship group started off on the right foot.

Get your copy of The Stewardship Toolbox today!


Showcase Your Eco-Friendly Business

Posted September 2, 2014 by LSC

Do you own, work for or know of a small business in Edmonton that strives to make a difference? Applications are now open for Edmonton’s 2014 Small Business Eco Challenge.

The Small Business Eco Challenge celebrates the environmental achievements of small businesses operating in Edmonton. Entries are judged within the six categories included in the City’s environmental strategic plan The Way We Green:

  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Food Resiliency: protection of local food supply or agriculture
  • Solid Waste Reduction
  • Land Conservation and Biodiversity
  • Water Quality Protection and Conservation
  • Air Quality

Only for-profit enterprises within the city of Edmonton that have been in operation for year or more qualify for the challenge. Winners are selected on the basis of overall environmental performance.

Entries must be received no later than 4pm on Friday, September 26, 2014.

Visit the City of Edmonton’s website to learn more and download the application form.


National Wetland Conservation Fund Accepting Applications

Posted July 21, 2014 by LSC

As part of the recently announced National Conservation Plan, Environment Canada has established the National Wetland Conservation Fund

Applications for funding from the National Wetland Conservation Fund for the 2014–15 fiscal year are now being accepted.

Please refer to the attached NWCF 2014–15 Application Guidelines and NWCF 2014–15 Application Form for more detailed information.

The deadline for submission of 2014–15 applications is Friday, August 29th, 2014.

Completed applications should be sent to FNCMH-NWCF@ec.gc.ca


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.


Get to Know Alberta's Land Trusts

Posted July 22, 2013 by LSC

Ever wondered what a land trust does? Learn more in this recent article (link below) about the Western Sky Land Trust posted on Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (AESRD) blog.

Beyond the Bow: building community-based watershed stewardship in the Calgary region

This post is one of series of profiles for AESRD’s Land Trust Grant program. Click here to read other posts in the series and learn more about the Land Trust Grant program.


Meet the 2013 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted June 27, 2013 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 2013 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
Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) is hosting an awareness walk from the Saskatchewan border to the headwaters of the Oldman River in the Castle area. Over the course of the 16 day walk, new participants, representing the communities along the route, will join the walk. Several communities along the walk route will host presentations focused on water management, in an effort to increase awareness of water issues in their area. The last day of the walk will be a thank you event for all who took part and as a chance to celebrate the headwaters. CCWC’s ultimate goal is to create greater awareness of water issues and to share experiences of water stewardship throughout the watershed.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
Clear Hill Watershed Initiative (CHWI) is extending their water quality monitoring program to include a local lake which has high industrial activity around it. The group will use results collected through the program to monitor any changes in the water quality in the area. If a decline in quality is found, the group will develop a plan to remediate any issues. They will also be focusing on further development of their strategic plan, interacting with local schools though contests and hosting a community supper event. CHWI is continually working towards creating awareness and acceptance of their stewardship group within the county and encouraging adoption of best management practices for maintaining a healthy watershed.

Clear Water Landcare
Clear Water Landcare (CWL) will be working with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish) to inventory Prairie and Cow Creeks, as well as Swan and Cow Lakes to assist in developing a benchmark of riparian health in the region. The inventory builds on water sampling work done from 2002 to 2005 through EPCOR. This project will also help the group to build relationships with landowners in the area. CWL believes that increasing landowner awareness and building relationships in the area will lead to advancement of education and awareness of best management practices and ultimately on-the-ground practice changes.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) is focusing on revitalizing their Watershed Awareness Campaign though designing a new newsletter, submitting articles to local newspapers, and engaging people through social media such as Twitter. The group plans to produce at least three high quality newsletters, and submit approximately five articles to the newspapers sharing ERWP’s activities and success stories. They will tweet regularly and update their website to keep content current and relevant. Through these efforts ERWP will raise its profile within the community, increase education and awareness, and ultimately ensure the integrity of the watershed.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society (FFCPPS) are working on their 2013 Community Watershed Stewardship Project which includes water quality monitoring, phase three of their watershed public awareness campaign and an invasive species strategy. The data and findings generated though the long-term water quality sampling will form the basis for their entire campaign, and will allow the group to effectively communicate ways for people to contribute to improving water quality. The public awareness portion of the project will include watershed based presentations, demonstrations, tours, performances and hands-on activities for the public. FFCPPS will also continue to remove invasive plant species focusing on Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR), as they have done for the past several years. FFCPPS views all of their activities as a way to invoke the public’s stewardship ethic which contributes towards the sustainability of the park and watershed.

Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society
In 2012 Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society completed phase one of their aquifer mapping project, which included hiring a hydrogeological consultant to develop maps showing all the water well records in the basin. In 2013 they will begin phase two, which will identify all of the groundwater resources in the Gull Lake Watershed. All aquifers will be identified as either hydraulically connected to the lake or not. The group ultimately wants to be able to use the information when working with municipalities to make recommendations for developmental controls on water wells being drilled in the area. For example, recommending that wells be drilled primarily in aquifers not connected to the lake, and where necessary, ensuring appropriate drilling depths are determined so that aquifers are not depleted if wells are connected to the lake.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
In addition to growing its outreach, education and awareness program, Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) is expanding its collaborative efforts with the Ghost Stewardship Monitoring Group and motorized user groups in the local watershed. Outreach efforts will include offering field trips of the Ghost Watershed to local schools and Walks in the Watershed, where the history as well as the ecological features of the watershed will be explained. GWAS believes awareness and education of current watershed users as well as school children, who are the next generation of users, is extremely important in order to maintain the integrity of the watershed. In all their messaging, GWAS emphasizes ‘how’ we as individuals should use the landscape rather than ‘if’ we use the landscape.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society (LCARF) is completing their second year of baseline water monitoring in Horse Creek. LCARF will hire Palliser Environmental to take samples at three sites, 10 times between April and October. The data obtained in the water quality monitoring will be used to help develop an Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The group will also be engaging stakeholders and creating awareness by holding field days and information meetings about their activities since 2012. LCARF would also like to be able to complete a community bio-engineering project at a pipeline crossing that was identified as in need of riparian restoration.

Muriel Lake Basin Management Society
Muriel Lake Basin Management Society (MLBMS) will hire a contractor to, by analyzing aerial footage, assess the condition of the riparian zones around Muriel Lake and its tributaries. Riparian areas are visually assessed by answering a series of questions pertaining to vegetation cover and human and/or animal disturbance. Assessing the riparian areas will allow MLBMS to identify and work with landowners who own areas with impaired riparian zones, and focus future restoration work on these impacted areas to improve the ecological health of the lake basin. The results of the assessment will be shared with stakeholders in the watershed, at a public presentation, through advertisements, as well as distribution through mail and email.

Mayatan Lake Management Association
Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA) is developing a watershed management plan. The Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan will be a collaborative planning initiative with the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, the Parkland County, the Government of Alberta, and other key collaborators such as local residents. MLMA’s management plan will be built upon the foundation of the State of the Watershed report they completed in 2012. The Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan and accompanying implementation strategy will provide long term direction to improve or maintain the health of the watershed.

Moose Lake Watershed Society
The Moose Lake Watershed Society (MLWS) will hold their Walking with the Moose day-long fieldtrip for Grade 5 and 6 students, educating the students in a hands-on, interactive manner, raising awareness about the environment and reinforcing the knowledge students gain at school. By educating the public and especially youth through interactive programs such as Walking with the Moose, the MLWS is instilling the importance of protecting natural areas as a way of protecting the environment as a whole. MLWS has seen the program grow from only a few schools in the beginning to seven schools and 380 children in 2012. They would like to see the program continue to expand.

Medicine River Watershed Society
Medicine River Watershed Society (MRWS) is following up on their 2010 grant project with a new riparian tree plant and fencing project. The group would like to stabilize the creek bank and move livestock back from the water’s edge. MRWS will use two of their own solar powered offsite watering systems in conjunction with the trees and fence to encourage producers to see the benefits of coordinated efforts and the positive results. The offsite watering sites will be established as demonstration sites to be used for future education purposes, and for comparison with areas which did not receive any modifications.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Once again, Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA), as a part of their Engaged Stewardship Initiative, will be hiring Living by Water student consultants to do home site consultations. Since 2008 PLWA has hired Living by Water come to the lake to encourage environmental best practices by giving permanent and seasonal residents the knowledge and tools they need to understand how to restore and maintain healthy watershed properties and shorelines. Through this process people learn about the connection between how we live in the watershed and our impacts on the fisheries, water quality and wildlife and their habitat. This year PLWA already has 24 people signed up to receive consultations, and the group plans to have more homeowners sign up throughout the summer.

Red Creek Stewardship Group
Red Creek Stewardship Group is planning information sessions and basic watershed awareness workshops which will highlight the importance of watersheds, riparian areas and better management practices. A site will be chosen to do a field day and riparian health inventory with Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), and the group will photograph evidence of the improved environmental conditions.

Society of Grassland Naturalists
Society of Grassland Naturalists’ project “The Dancing River” will have several components. The major component will be a display which will focus on the geography of prairie watercourses showing how streams move and change with different flow levels. The display will highlight how this change in rivers across the landscape is an important part of the ecological system in the prairies, as it creates habitat for wildlife, plants and people. The group will also have cooperative programs, events and speakers organized with the local SEAWA Watershed Advisory and Planning Council and the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. All activities will promote understanding a stewardship in Society of Grassland Naturalist’s region.

Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society
Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society will be preserving and restoring naturally functioning ecosystems within Weaselhead Park and educating the public about conservation and environmental protection in their 2013 invasive plant program. They will aim to reduce the abundance of targeted invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and biodiversity; prevent new species of invasive plants from becoming established; increase understanding and awareness among the community of invasive plants, the problems they cause, and how to combat their spread; increase and disseminate experience gained since start of program in 2010; and begin a pilot project restoring native vegetation in severely degraded areas of habitat.

Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association
Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association is sponsoring an eco-education initiative through the non-profit society, Stream of Dreams, which will educate youth about watersheds. The program aims to make a difference in how young people treat rivers, streams, lakes and oceans, and the fish that live in them through a combination of instruction and art. Instructors will present watershed education and ‘Dreamfish’ painting workshops. When the painting of the ‘Dreamfish’ is complete, the colourful and dazzling painted fish will be “set free” by mounting them on the school’s chain link fence, to remind passersby that we are all stewards of our environment.

Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association
Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association is also promoting the Wizard Lake State of the Watershed Report. The group will meet with the local county governing authorities, local residents, and members of the general public to educate and make them area of watershed issues and how they can contribute to a healthier watershed and lake, as referenced in the state of the watershed report. The group will be developing PowerPoint presentations to approach the counties with, with the hope that the counties will assume partnership roles and responsibilities of decision making with development around the lake and with lake and watershed usage.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
Wabamun Watershed Management Council (WWMC) is currently working with a consultant to prepare a State of the Watershed Report (SOW) for the Wabamun Lake Watershed. The information in the SOW will help to inform the group and the lake community of the current state of the watershed, and will be the basis for the drafting an Integrated Watershed Management Plan. WWMC will present the SOW results to build support in the community, and will collect feedback and input for the development of an Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The group also plans to present the results to local municipalities, businesses, industry and First Nations in the region, to education and receive feedback from all sectors around the lake.


CWF Conservation Awards Call For Nominations

Posted February 20, 2013 by LSC

It’s time to celebrate conservation in Canada and honour those that are paving the way for the future of wildlife and habitat in this great nation.

Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is asking all Canadians to tell them about a deserving citizen or group that has made a difference for wildlife, habitat or conservation.

The deadline for the Conservation Achievement Awards nominations is March 31, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET.

Visit the CWF website to earn more about the awards and nominate someone today.


Apply for a 2013 Walmart Evergreen Grant

Posted February 1, 2013 by LSC

Evergreen is now accepting applications for the 2013 Walmart–Evergreen Green Grants Program supporting community development, environmental stewardship and urban agriculture projects across Canada.

Mark your calendar! The 2013 deadline for the Walmart–Evergreen Green Grants Program is March 1, 2013.

Visit the Walmart – Evergreen Green Grants page for more information.

Evergreen is a national charity that makes cities more livable. Learn more >>


Meet the 2012 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted July 24, 2012 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 2012 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.

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area
The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area plans to restore the North and South arms of the wetlands forming the headwaters of Pine Creek through the reintroduction of beavers. The beavers will be relocated to areas where they will provide natural engineering to improve water quantity and quality. To document the results of the reintroduction the group plans to institute a monitoring program with the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies once the beavers are introduced.

Crowsnest Conservation Society
Crowsnest Conservation Society is in the second year of a riparian restoration project, with a focus on weed control and riparian diversity. The funding will be used to communicate and promote four weed pulling events, provide support to maintaining and updating the plant monitoring database, conduct data analysis and complete a website redesign. The new website will contain information related to watershed issues, provide updates to the community on the status of this project, and provide locations on the river that the community can observe work being done by riparian restoration technicians.

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
The Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) will focus its efforts on specific areas of concern by removing invasive plants species and garbage left behind by users of the Castle. The group will monitor the location of invasive species and then submit the information to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development for inventory mapping. CCWC also plans to reclaim illegal off-road vehicle trails, by mounting signs of the closed off areas, and through the addition of signs to areas where extensive damage is occurring.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
The Clear Hills Watershed Initiative is continuing their previous water quality monitoring work in an effort to add to their current database. The group plans to increase awareness of how the water resources in the area need to be properly managed by incorporating beneficial management practices (BMPs) in their work and promoting them in to community members. All of these efforts will help maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and establish the group’s value within the local community.

Clear Water Landcare
Ten years ago, Clear Water Landcare, with the help of Cows and Fish, performed 22 riparian health inventories. Several of the landowners originally involved have agreed to a re-inventory of seven of the sites. Re-assessments will include an assessment of current riparian conditions, a comparison to the previous assessment, and identification of the importance of beneficial practices. This may also result in the development of a suite of projects that will become demonstration tools to build awareness of and enhance riparian areas.

Drywood Yarrow Conservation Partnership
Drywood Yarrow Conservation Partnership (DYCP) is working with Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) to conduct a field tour for local landowners, community members and other partner organizations. The field tours will visit some of the on-the-ground projects that DYCP has completed in the past with TUC, such as riparian fencing and off-stream stock watering systems. One day will be specifically for local producers to encourage their understanding of beneficial management practices (BMPs) that are currently being applied on the landscape. The second field tour will be held for local junior high students so they can learn about the importance and functionality of riparian areas.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Over the past few years, the demands placed on the McLean Creek Forest Land Use Zone have increased significantly; from logging and off-highway vehicle use, to cattle grazing. The Elbow River Watershed Partnership will be monitoring the water quality in McLean Creek. The data collected will help identify any trends in water quality changes. The results will be used to encourage the adoption of watershed-friendly practices and facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders as to the connection between land-use and water quality. Future monitoring and data collection will be done to see if the changes in practices are yielding positive results.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society will be monitoring Fish Creek from the head waters in McLean Creek Recreation Area to the confluence with Bow River in Fish Creek Provincial Park. The group will also be conducting an invertebrate survey and collecting flow level data. They will also implementing phase two of their watershed public awareness campaign, which includes holding their annual Creekfest, delivering presentations, creating a new fact sheet and setting up displays at community events, among other activities. The group will be reaching out to both urban and rural communities, including Bragg Creek, Priddis, and Calgary, which are located along the length of Fish Creek.

Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society
The Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society will hire a hydrogeological consultant to identify groundwater resources in the Gull Lake Watershed and create an aquifer map. All aquifers will be identified as either hydraulically connected to the lake or not. The group ultimately wants to be able to use the information when working with municipalities to put development controls on water wells being drilled in the area, such as recommending that wells be drilled primarily in aquifers not connected to the lake, and where necessary, appropriate drilling depths be determined so that aquifers are not depleted if wells are connected to the lake.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
At a visioning session organized by the MD of Bighorn in 2011, the community expressed grave concerns about increasing land-use in the Ghost Watershed. However, people do not have the expertise and knowledge to advise what would be beneficial land-use management practices. Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) will hire a consultant from Silva Ecosystem Consultants to review the proposed land-uses in the Ghost Watershed. The consultant will develop a professional evaluation based on the area’s ecology, and provide the group with a report and recommendations for various the land-uses that can maintain the ecosystems integrity. With this report, GWAS will be able to provide valuable input into the land-use planning process in their municipality.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society will hire Palliser Environmental to sample water at three sites along Horse Creek from April to October. There is a hanging culvert by the mouth of Horse Creek, where a population of small brook and brown trout were found. The group also intends to test sedimentation, electro-fish and develop further baseline data which will determine if the culvert is a deterrent to trout passage upstream. The group will use any findings to plan future projects to improve riparian health and aquatic habitats.

Moose Lake Watershed Society
The Moose Lake Watershed Society (MLWS) will hold their Walking with the Moose day long fieldtrip for Grade 5 students, educating the students in a hands-on, interactive manner raising awareness about the environment and solidifying the knowledge gained at school. MLWS has invited six local schools to participate in the fieldtrip. MLWS is also introducing a new program, Operation Alien Invaders, which is a day for people to learn more about and experience working with and around invasive plants. Local community members will come out to learn about proper use of ornamentals, such as the Himalayan Balsam and how to keep riparian areas in a more natural state.

Milk River Ranchers Group
The Milk River Ranchers Group will be placing invasive plant species signs within day use areas along the Milk River on natural lands including grazing reserves, grazing co-ops, and grazing leases. Signs will focus on the Common Burdock, Babysbreath, Chamomile, and Nodding Thistle which are through the Milk River Watershed. The signs allow the group to create a learning opportunity for their target land users: farmer, ranchers, recreational users such as hunters and hikers. Volunteers will install the signs in designated areas and the local community will be informed of the signs locations. The group will monitor feedback from local residents in an effort to track if any weeds are noticed and removed following installation of the signs.

Nose Creek Watershed Partnership
The Nose Creek Watershed Partnership is working towards implementing the recommendations from the Nose creek Watershed Water Management Plan. This includes hiring a consultant to complete the monitoring and write a report summarizing the three years of data. They will also work towards with local residents, and municipal officials and staff to raise the profile and awareness of NCWP and the work that they perform in the community. In addition, the group will host on-the-ground stewardship activities such as tree plantings and clean-up events.

Pine Lake Restoration Society
The Pine Lake Restoration Society (PLRS) has been active and performing water quality testing since 1998, when they had a hypolimnetic withdrawal system installed. Testing in 2007 indicated that there was an alarming increase in pollutants and nutrients entering the lake from seven feeder creeks. PLRS continues to perform more water quality monitoring to determine the sources of pollutants and nutrients, and then recommend remedial activities that can be performed to increase water quality. The group will also increase awareness among lake and surrounding community residents of potential threats to water quality.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Pigeon Lake is undergoing significant development and is becoming increasingly eutrophic as a result of nutrient loading. The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association has established stewardship program which includes: environmental workshops, home site assessments, information sessions, shoreline clean ups, studies of best practice, development and distribution of publications to watershed residents, and their Love the Lake program. This year the group will be focusing on preforming 40 home-site assessments, removing of Himalayan Balsam, and setting up information booths at various events.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA) is hosting a three-day, digital storytelling workshop for approximately 10 attendees including WBRA board members, local ranchers, business owners and community stewards. Once the workshop has been completed the digital stories will be shared in screenings, on the WBRA website and in a local visitor center display. The workshop will consist of a team-building experience where individuals develop and share their ideas of what stewarding the Waterton Biosphere Reserve means to them. The digital stories are intended to renew and strengthen the stewardship ethic, encouraging the community to work together to maintain a healthy watershed and create a sustainable future.

West-Central Forage Association
West Central Forage Association is working with Yellowhead County and Alberta Lake Management Association (ALMS) to address environmental concerns regarding water quality and riparian areas around Chip Lake and establish a Chip Lake watershed stewardship group. Working with ALMS through the Lakewatch Program, the group will monitor the water quality of Chip Lake. The group will also perform extension activities such as riparian health assessments. All of these extension and monitoring activities will help to establish a stewardship group that is armed with well-developed baseline data.

Willow Creek Watershed Group
Willow Creek Watershed Group will be working with Cows and Fish to perform seven riparian health assessments on sites that have been selected by Agriculture Fieldmen from the local rural municipalities. The assessments, conducted on sites which have undergone land management changes, will enable the group to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these changes. The project will assist landowners and managers to improve their management skill and knowledge in range and riparian health, as well as improve the riparian health, fish habitat and water quality.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society
The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society and its volunteers will focus on reducing the abundance of invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and biodiversity, preventing new invasive plants from becoming established, increasing awareness of invasive plants, and sharing lessons learned following the recovery of native vegetation after weeding. Controlling invasive plant species in the park helps prevent flooding by increasing the ability of floodplains and wetlands to function properly in high and low flow events, reduce sedimentation and erosion and maintain healthy riparian areas.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
The Wabamun Watershed Management Council is hiring a consultant to produce a State of the Watershed for Wabamun Lake. A State of the Watershed report is the first step in being able to complete a Watershed Management Plan for the Lake Wabamun watershed. The group feels that relative to other lakes in Alberta, Lake Wabamun is quite healthy, but if steps are not taken to limit the nutrients and pollutants entering the lake and watershed water quality could decline. The report will enable the group to engage the community and create awareness to secure a healthy future for the watershed.

Zone 6 Regional Council of the Metis Association of Alberta
The Zone 6 Regional Council of the Metis Association of Alberta is hosting a watershed science for youth project in the Grande Prairie area. The group will take students on five separate day trips where they will learn about riparian areas, water and ecology, go on boat trips along Bear River, visit a sewage plant, visit Grande Prairie city hall to meet municipal officials, perform water testing on streams in the region and compile reports of their observations. The group hopes that local Metis youth will become knowledgeable and interested in waters quality and quantity issues and get involved in local water-related projects. The group received additional grant funding to replicate this same project in the Peace River area.


New Online Stewardship Directory Goes Live

Posted April 10, 2012 by LSC

Connecting Stewards

Over the past several months, Land Stewardship Centre has been working on developing a new online Stewardship Directory to support the efforts of and help connect the stewardship community. We are pleased to announce that the new online Stewardship Directory is now live.

Easy to Use

This new, easy to use, web-based Directory will help community stewardship groups, organizations, businesses and government find and connect with each other in order to share their experiences and lessons learned in stewardship and natural resource management. It is also a quick and easy way to get stewardship-related groups, organizations and businesses noticed on the web.

Check out the new Stewardship Directory.

Get Listed

If your group, organization, business or government is involved in stewardship, be sure to get them listed in the Directory. Set up an account for your organization by clicking on the “Register” button on the home page. Once the account request has been confirmed, just follow the few simple steps required to complete your organization’s profile in the Directory.

Questions or Comments?

If you have any comments about this exciting new stewardship tool, or if you have any questions about registering your organization in the Directory please email directory@landstewardship.org or phone 1–877-727–5276 extension 222.


Deadline for Alberta Ecotrust Community Grants April 17

Posted March 26, 2012 by LSC

Spring is here and Alberta Ecotrust is now accepting Community Grant applications.

Is your non-profit or charity working on an environmental project on the themes of air, climate, energy, water or wilderness conservation? Would $7,500 help you towards achieving your project goals? Apply today to Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s Community Project grant program.

Alberta Ecotrust supports grassroots organizations working on meaningful projects that seek to improve Alberta’s environment. Applying organizations must be based in Alberta or have working chapters in Alberta. See our website for additional eligibility requirements.

Apply Today
Smaller, grassroots, community-based environmental projects are encouraged to apply for up to $7,500 through our Community Grants program. Visit Alberta Ecotrust’s website for more information.

The deadline to submit a Community Grant application is Tuesday, April 17 by 11:59 pm.


Get Your Green Acreages Guide Today

Posted February 28, 2012 by LSC

It’s here!

The much anticipated Green Acreages Guide: Stewardship for Small Acreages workbook is now available. It is THE stewardship resource for acreage and recreational property owners.

Stewardship for small acreages

The Green Acreages Guide is a workbook developed especially for acreage, hobby farm and recreational property owners, to help them develop and implement stewardship practices that conserve and protect the valuable natural assets, such as air, land, water, wildlife, associated with their properties.

Get yours today

Click here to learn more about the Guide and order your copy today.


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.


NSWA Launches Consultation for Watershed Management Plan

Posted May 5, 2011 by LSC

The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA), based in Edmonton, has reached a major milestone in its planning process under Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy by releasing the “Discussion Paper for the Development of an Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the North Saskatchewan River Watershed in Alberta”.

It summarizes the planning process over the last five years, the current legislative and policy context, the results of technical studies and conditions across the watershed. The paper presents draft recommendations in the form of five goals, 20 watershed management directions and 61 specific actions on a wide range of water, land and development issues. The recommendations incorporate stakeholder interests expressed to date and present an implementation strategy.

The NSWA has embarked on a comprehensive public consultation and stakeholder engagement program over the next three months to seek input on the draft recommendations. To that end, the NSWA has produced a workbook as a survey questionnaire. It forms the core of this process and gives all parties an opportunity to share their views on and help shape the final recommendations. The NSWA aims to prepare the final IWMP to submit to Government of Alberta and all stakeholders in late 2011.

Both the discussion paper and survey workbook are available on the NSWA website at www.nswa.ab.ca. The survey workbook can be completed online or you can obtain a paper copy by calling the NSWA at 780–442-6363.

For more information, please contact Mr. David Trew, Executive Director, NSWA at 780–496-3474 or email David Trew.


Alberta Stewardship Network Grant Deadline Reminder

Posted January 20, 2011 by LSC

The Alberta Stewardship Network (ASN) is accepting applications for the 2011 Watershed Stewardship Grant Program.

Stewardship groups can apply for up to $7500 in funding for watershed stewardship related projects to be completed before March 31, 2012.

Groups may submit applications as a registered society or in partnership with an eligible legal entity (see application form pages 1–2 for more details).

  • Application deadline: February 1, 2011 @ 4:30 p.m.

To learn more about the ASN Watershed Stewardship Grant Program or to request
a copy of the most recent Grant Program report, please contact:

Jenna Curtis
Alberta Stewardship Network Grant Coordinator
Land Stewardship Centre of Canada
17503 – 45 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T6M 2N3
T: 1–877-7-ASK-ASN (1–877-727–5276) ext. 225
F: 780–486-9599
E: jenna@landstewardship.org

We look forward to receiving your application.


Elk Island National Park Plans for the Future - Stage Two Date Changes

Posted November 8, 2010 by LSC

Canada’s National Parks, National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas belong to all Canadians. In the coming months, Elk Island National Park will be updating its management plan, the foundation of a vision, key strategies, measurable objectives and main actions for the next five to ten years. This plan will help to establish a clear identity for the park and will help to guide park conservation work, facilitation of visitor experience opportunities, partnering, public education outreach, and more.

As part of this process, they will be holding four open houses for the general public. They encourage you or a member of your organization to share your time by attending:

Stage One – Developing plan elements
Monday, August 30, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
U. of A. Lister Hall Conference Centre, Aurora Room

Tuesday, August 31, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Lamont Recreation Centre Meeting Room

Stage Two – Review of the draft management plan
A second stage of open houses had been scheduled for October 20 in Lamont and October 21 in Edmonton as part of the next public review of the draft plan. Please note, these open houses have been rescheduled as follows:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Lamont Recreation Centre (Meeting Room), 4848 – 49 Street, Lamont, Alberta

Thursday, January 13, 2011
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Fantasyland Hotel (Medeira Room), West Edmonton Mall, 17700 – 87 Avenue, Edmonton

Further information about the Elk Island National Park Management Plan can be found
on “their website.”:http://www.pc.gc.ca/einpmanagementplan or download the following:

Elk Island National Park Newsletter – English

Elk Island National Park Newsletter – French


Alberta Public Lands Act Regulation Survey

Posted September 8, 2010 by LSC

Purpose
The province is proposing changes to the regulations within the Public Lands Act to support better land management and stewardship. The Public Lands Act prescribes what is legally allowed or prohibited on public land. The changes will set out specific rules, for example, how visitors can use public land, how the rules are enforced, and how appeals are heard.

Proposed Regulation
The proposed Public Lands Administration Regulation focuses on three key themes. Under each of these three themes, this consultation looks at the main aspects of the regulation:

A. Land Management
B. Compliance and Enforcement
C. Appeals and Dispute Resolution

Public consultation is a key step in the process to develop these new regulations. Public comments will be reviewed and considered in guiding the development of the new regulations.

Public Comment
The province will work with First Nations, the public, and stakeholders to update the regulation. In order to provide your feedback we encourage you to first read through the frequently asked questions for further information on the proposed regulation changes.

The survey provides an opportunity for you to submit feedback on the proposed amendments to the Public Lands Act regulation. It also provides an opportunity to provide general comments on the proposed regulation changes.

Albertans are invited to complete the survey regarding the proposed amendments either online or by mail from August 5, 2010 – September 17, 2010. Complete the survey online.


SNO Stewardship Forum A Success

Posted August 10, 2010 by LSC

Stewardship Forum 2010: International Year of Biodiversity

The Stewardship Network of Ontario (SNO) held its Annual Stewardship Forum on June 8th, 2010 at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. There were 57 people in attendance, including a stellar line up of speakers and members of the SNO Leadership Team.

This annual event affords SNO the opportunity to report back to the community on their activities. They are now sharing the results of the Forum in their final report. This report also includes the Power Point presentations given by the speakers, as well as a 2010 participant contact list.

Visit SNO‘s website for more information about the organization and to download a copy of the Stewardship Forum 2010 Final Report.


New Process, Same Value for Farm EFP's in Alberta

Posted August 4, 2010 by LSC

Alberta farmers and ranchers who wish to complete an environmental farm plan (EFP) or update their existing one, will find that the process has been changed in the province. Program delivery is now coordinated through Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD).

That’s the only real EFP program change. Resource materials used and the technical assistance available to producers are the same. The reasons to complete an EFP are as strong and valid as ever and producers completing an EFP today join more than 12,000 Alberta producers who have taken those steps since the program’s inception.

“The EFP process is designed to be simple and straightforward,” says program spokesperson, Perry Phillips, who serves in EFP training and support and has worked with the EFP program over the past several years. The EFP is a voluntary self-assessment process for producers to determine strengths and weaknesses of their farming operation from an environmental perspective

To begin their EFP process, producers contact the ARD toll-free helpline at 310-FARM (3276). They will be referred to a Technical Assistant. A paper version of the EFP workbook and a new CD version are available free of charge. Producers can complete an EFP on an individual basis or by participating in workshops where available.

Producers learn the process and how to use the workbook to review all aspects of their operation and finalize their EFP. One of the first steps in completing the EFP is to assess the farm’s soil and site characteristics. Local qualified EFP Technical Assistants are available for assistance throughout the process.

Once completed, the producer has the choice to submit their plan to a qualified EFP Technical Assistant for a review and feedback. It will be returned with a letter of completion along with any suggestions for improvement.

“The EFP is designed to be a living document,” says Phillips, “built to be implemented continuously from one year to the next according to the priorities the producer has established. Updating on a regular basis makes sense. Recent experience shows producers have documented real progress using the approach of revisiting and updating the EFP.”

Producers understand the value of environmental progress, he says. Some complete an EFP because they want to confirm what is being done properly on their operations and to more clearly understand what is required to meet current standards.

In some cases an EFP are done for business reasons, to apply for support under various programs, or to build producer food branding efforts that meet specific environmental standards of production.

More information is available through the ARD help line at 310-FARM (3276) or on the Alberta EFP website at www.albertaEFP.com. A feature article on this topic is also available on the website.

For more information contact:

Perry Phillips
Training Specialist / EFP Support
Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development
Phone: (780) 636–3366


Camrose Community Environmental Project Grand Opening

Posted July 20, 2010 by LSC

From the July 19, 2010 Issue of Agri-News

When a local gravel pit is ready to be reclaimed, there are a couple of things that can be done with it – turning it into a 37-acre park and conservation reserve is what Camrose County decided to do.

In 2009, work began on the reclamation and redevelopment of the Blatz Gravel Pit, and on July 31, 2010, the project will wrap-up with the grand opening of the Camrose County Nature Conservation Centre.

Camrose County owns and operates five gravel pits located in the south portion of the County. Each year the county crushes an average of 100,000 – 130,000 tonnes of road surfacing gravel as required. This redevelopment project, like so many other projects in the county, looks to the future by making every effort to ensure that once resources are used, the space is redeveloped for the benefit of the people who live in Camrose and area and for visitors.

The conservation centre consists of several nature trails, with pedestrian bridges placed to give variety to a walk around the lake. The area isn’t just for hikers. Several features have been included in the design, such as a viewing deck, a gazebo, ample parking, washrooms and even a dock for scuba divers, to ensure that the park appeals to everyone.

Camrose County extends an open invitation for Albertans to come and join the county as they official open the Camrose County Nature Conservation Centre on July 31, 2010. The official ribbon cutting will take place at 12:30 p.m., followed by a beef on a bun lunch. The day will be a chance to be part of a very special day in Alberta’s history.

To view photos of the Blatz gravel pit as it was and as it looks now, visit the Camrose County website.

For more information, contact Steve Gerlitz, County Administrator, at 780–672-4446.


Environment Week, May 30 - June 5, 2010

Posted May 29, 2010 by LSC

Protecting Canada’s natural environment reaps a world of benefits for Canadians, from strengthening the economy to enhancing health and quality of life.

Canadian Environment Week is the perfect time to celebrate our achievements and initiatives in tackling climate change and reducing air pollution.

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. Biodiversity can be defined as being the variety of all life on earth. Celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity is a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of the vital role biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth.

This year’s theme for Canadian Environment Week is: Embracing Life on Earth.

Learn more about Environment Week and activities happening around the country.


April 22 is Earth Day!

Posted April 15, 2010 by LSC

Join an Earth Day event near you!

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by getting together with friends, family and co-workers. Mark the occasion by participating in one of the many events being organized by environmental groups across the country! Here?s how you can find one:

Check out Earth Day Canada’s interactive events map. Remember, you can also add your own event for free.

Browse through PlantetFriendly.net’s environmental events calendar.

Visit your provincial or territorial environmental network’s website to see what local groups are planning.

Happy Earth Day!