Every year, applicants continue to inspire with their dedication to on the ground activities that enhance, protect and restore Alberta’s precious water resources. It is rewarding to see the reach and diversification of stewardship activities supported by this grant program from year to year.
Now it’s time to meet the groups that received 2021 WSG funding and learn how they will put these important dollars to work in communities across Alberta. LSC gratefully acknowledges Alberta Environment and Parks as the core funder of the WSG.
Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES)
The Bar-V-Nok property is one of the few remaining large natural areas bordering Pigeon Lake with roughly 140 acres of undeveloped boreal/parkland forest acting as an ecological buffer for the lake and watershed. In partnership with Camp Bar-V-Nok Society, and with the support of Pigeon Lake Watershed Association and community volunteers, AWES is teaming up for a flagship restoration project for the Pigeon Lake watershed that will repair trail degradation and damage to sensitive wetland habitat from OHVs, as well as repair or replace damaged interpretive signage. Restoration work will involve shoreline noxious weed control, natural bank stabilization and riparian planting, and trail reinforcement. The Bar-V-Nok property’s portion of the Trans-Canada Trail, and its ability to host various organizations at its camp facilities, gives the project high visibility and a unique opportunity to educate and impact many people. This project is a great opportunity to provide stewardship education on the proper management of watershed lands.
Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP)
As part of this extensive outreach project, in collaboration with other organizations, the Partnership will develop outreach messaging and materials based on Elbow River State of the Watershed report findings. During this project they will engage with stakeholders, including key decision makers in the watershed, recreational users in crown lands in the area, and other stakeholders interested in crown lands in the upper Bow watershed. Through presentations, social media, ERWP website and online interactive maps, newsletters and, if possible, in person at the West Bragg Creek day use area, the Partnership aims to advance and implement stewardship actions in the Elbow and Upper Bow River watersheds.
Fish Creek Watershed Association (FCWA)
The headwaters of Fish Creek rise in the Kananaskis Improvement District (KID), in the McLean Creek Public Land Use Zone. This area supports heavy recreation use (including off-highway vehicles), forestry activity, livestock grazing. Downstream of the KID is a mix of agricultural lands and country residential developments, a golf course and the community of Priddis. The FCWA is interested in preserving excellent quality and quantity of water to ensure human and agricultural needs, healthy riparian areas and fish habitat. With this project, the FCWA will implement a comprehensive water monitoring program in the watershed that aims to establish baseline water quality conditions, determine if water quality is meeting provincial guidelines for protection of aquatic life, and inform future land use planning, management and stewardship activities.
Friends of Confederation Creek (FCC)
Beginning with the story of urban development and watershed management with key events leading to the present day, wherein the majority of Confederation Creek and tributary streams are buried in storm sewers, this FCC project, Uncovering Confederation Creek, will focus on tapping into the wealth of local and regional knowledge and history relating to the Confederation Creek watershed to develop widely accessible educational materials to increase awareness of this critical but often overlooked urban watershed, and to outline opportunities for restoration of parts of this important historic creek in Calgary. Through traditional and digital media, FCC will increase awareness of this watershed and both the threats it faces and the opportunities for improving watershed health. In essence, Uncovering Confederation Creek will tell the story of this watershed; past and present, and a vision for the future.
Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS)
GWAS is preparing for a second year of sampling following the federal CABiN protocol and taking part in the STREAM project in the Bow River Basin and will expand their water monitoring program with new components, including lead-testing, taking turbidity samples after rainfall events and collecting sediment run-off data, and installing temperature loggers. GWAS will participate in collaborative workshops, forums, meetings and planning sessions, investigate additional opportunities to close data gaps identified in the State of the Watershed Report and act on its recommendations. They will also raise awareness about watershed health and threatened native trout populations and their habitat by providing presentations and opportunities to get to know the Ghost Watershed through hikes and walks, and hands-on outdoor educational events with recreational users. GWAS will be actively working with partners and government to address issues related to recreational use of the area including garbage and shooting debris, unsafe camp fires, lack of sanitary facilities, damage to vegetation, cutting and shooting of live trees.
Lac La Biche Region Watershed Stewardship Society
This project will help improve wetland conservation in Lac La Biche County through by improving the accuracy of the County’s Wetlands Inventory and exploring (primarily municipal) mechanisms that help achieve wetland conservation. The project builds on the existing Lac La Biche County Wetlands Inventory and examines an area of the county where wetlands are under pressure for urban development. The county has some mechanisms in place that help to conserve wetlands, but wetlands are still being lost. The second part of this project includes looking for opportunities to improve wetland conservation success rates by researching and exploring resources, partnerships and other mechanisms (i.e., bylaws, policies, plans) under municipal and provincial jurisdiction that could be used to improve wetland conservation and making recommendations for improvements to wetland conservation provisions in the county.
Lake Isle and Lac Ste. Anne Water Quality Management Society (LILSA)
Lac Ste. Anne and Lake Isle are popular recreational lakes just west of Edmonton. Through LILSA’s Lake Water Quality Education Project, the group will aim to raise awareness and knowledge of the importance of watershed health and water quality among shoreline owners, backlot residents, councillors, recreationalists and agricultural producers. Based on information received through a public survey conducted in April 2021, they will produce and distribute educational materials and a digital story to lake residents and users, focusing on facts versus myths on Blue-Green Algae, how to naturalize shorelines and how to steward the watershed to ensure the lakes’ water quality is not only sustained but elevated.
Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA)
There are several dozen small kettle lakes located on the post-glacial landscape of Parkland County (west of Edmonton) known as the Carvel Pitted Delta. These unique lakes and their watersheds primarily drain into the Sturgeon River sub-watershed; some portions drain directly south towards the North Saskatchewan River. There are approximately 26 named lakes and 70 unnamed lakes in this area. These lakes and their associated landscapes are considered to have unique ecological value by local and provincial governments, as well as by conservation agencies. MLMA will work with several partners (ALMS, North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, SPFGA, University of Alberta, Parkland County and private landowners) to conduct an expanded regional survey of these small lakes. The primary goal is to develop an updated and improved regional overview of lake water quality. This initiative would be followed by further lake and watershed assessments during 2022–24. This updated information will support future land and water management decisions and will be used to encourage local conservation and stewardship activities.
Mountain Métis Nation Association (MMAN) (Local Council #1994)
Earlier in 2021, the MMAN established an Aquatic Habitat Program to build local knowledge and awareness regarding aquatic habitat protection, watershed issues, and conservation efforts. The grant allows MMNA to extend and expand their existing Aquatic Habitat Program, with the future goal of sustaining a locally run aquatic habitat stewardship program. Through building community capacity and knowledge of watershed issues, aquatic habitat protection, and conservation efforts, meaningful negotiations and input with industry and the government can take place. The stewardship program approach will not only utilize western science perspectives but also traditional Indigenous knowledge. A program coordinator will work with local Elders to gather traditional Indigenous knowledge regarding local waterways, as well as organize training sessions and interviews with current experts, including the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance and Athabasca Watershed Council. This locally run aquatic habitat stewardship program will also help MMNA have a voice in future watershed management policy.
Nose Creek Watershed Partnership (NCWP)
The Nose Creek watershed is impacted by the cumulative effects of increasing residential and commercial development, industrial growth, stormwater discharge, agricultural activity, and channelization. Urban development and agricultural activity have resulted in degraded water quality, loss and degradation of riparian areas, an overall reduction in channel length, and an increase in water flows above natural in urban areas during certain times of the year. NCWP will collaborate with partners (including Bow River Basin Council) to develop a watershed-scale model tool that could be used to predict future impacts to watershed resources from changing land use and evaluate potential tools and strategies to maintain riparian health and water quality in the future. The model will support protection/restoration of stream flows, water quality, riparian areas and wetlands in the watershed. NCWP also intends to augment the municipal monitoring program by implementing water quality data sondes where currently there is no monitoring being done (e.g., downstream of Crossfield, and upstream of the confluence of Nose Creek and West Nose Creek).
Ridge Reservoir Working Group (RRWG)
The RRWG, in partnership with County of Warner No. 5, will hold a clean up day around the Milk River Ridge Reservoir, plant trees and shrubs on the banks and at the edge of the Milk River Ridge, and clean up some of the old debris that has been left behind over the years, continuing their efforts downstream of the reservoir this year. They intend to provide more education to the volunteers who help with their clean up and plantings and install signage that describes the project, why it’s important and who is involved. All these efforts help enhance the riparian area and decrease erosion, slow runoff from the Milk River Ridge, and better anchor riparian areas and shore lands with desirable vegetation which helps improve and protect water quality, increases biodiversity and provided wildlife habitat.
Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC)
Trout Creek and its tributaries used to support a healthy population of native Cutthroat Trout. However, flood impacts, exacerbated by land use impacts have degraded the health of the creek and few fish remain in the upper watershed. While this is concerning in and of itself, it is also an indication that the watershed is under extreme stress. Trout Unlimited Canada is working with partners on a multi-phased project to restore the health of the watershed by addressing sedimentation, improving riparian health, and improving resiliency to future flood and drought. The upper Trout Creek watershed is a popular recreational area that is also used for grazing and forestry. Some segments of the motorized trail system (used by both grazing allotment holders and recreationists) need to be re-aligned to improve riparian health, restore the functionality of the floodplain, and reduce unnatural sediment loading. Restoration work planned for 2021 includes trail realignments, riparian restoration, stream crossing mitigation (closure of fords and installation of bridges), and drainage/runoff improvements. Completing detailed assessment and design for more complex opportunities (i.e., channel realignment and livestock management) in 2021 will inform actions taken in 2022. Volunteer workdays, signage, web articles, video and social media will help raise awareness of the importance of floodplain connectivity, riparian health and sustainable recreation. TUC will work with partners not only to heal this landscape but ensure human needs are met (i.e., sustainable recreation, grazing) and solutions are workable and sustainable.
Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society
Construction of the South West Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) started in late 2015. A section of the highway runs along the western edge of the Weaselhead Park (245 hectares of natural riparian habitat located at the head of Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary). The Society is beginning the sixth year of a seven-year study examining environmental data during the highway’s ‘pre-construction’, ‘construction’ and ‘operational’ periods to better understand the impacts of the new infrastructure and effectiveness of mitigation measures. Data on key environmental components have been collected annually since fall 2015, two years before active construction on this section started, with the aim of having comparable data from pre-disturbance, construction, and operational phases of the road. The 2021 WSG grant will support data collection from the operational phase from June 1, 2021 to May 30, 2022. During this period, wildlife fencing will be installed, and re-vegetation of Right of Way completed. This will be the first year of data collected with salts and de-icers being used on the now operational road. Data will help establish whether wildlife fencing impacts wildlife corridor use, if re-vegetation improves erosion and sediment control, and if salts and de-icers used on the highway impact water quality in adjacent wetlands. In the short-term, the Study will allow timely action to be taken to correct/improve mitigation that is failing. In the long-term, the Study will improve understanding of the environmental impacts of such projects and the effectiveness of common mitigation measures. This knowledge will then be available to inform discussion around similar projects in the future, as well as inform changes to current mitigation standards.
Learn more about past WSG recipients and their projects.
Learn more about the Watershed Stewardship Grant Program.