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 2023 Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) funding and learn how they will put these important dollars to work in communities across Alberta.
We gratefully acknowledge Alberta Environment and Parks as the core funder of the WSG and thank them for continuing to invest in community stewardship initiatives like these.
Athabasca Watershed Council (Tawatinaw Watershed Working Group)
The Athabasca Watershed Council promotes a healthy Athabasca watershed. Out of their efforts, the Tawatinaw Watershed Working Group (TWWG) was formed. This group of landowners living in the Tawatinaw River watershed works to promote health in the watershed, undertaking educational projects that document and promote the area’s biodiversity. TWWG’s project equips residents to document problems facing arctic grayling using citizen science and encourage landowners to undertake riparian restoration on their property.
Bighill Creek Preservation Society
After six years of gathering data within the watershed, Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS) is drafting a State of the Watershed Report. The BCPS collected data on water quality, fish assemblage, stream health, stream temperatures and riparian habitats, for analysis by the geology department at the University of Calgary. With the State of the Watershed, BCPS will create a publicly accessible document that promotes stewardship, biodiversity and recreational and educational values in the face of increasing industrial development and subdivision pressures in the watershed.
Nose Creek Watershed Partnership (Bow River Basin Council)
The Bow River Basin Council (BRVC) and Nose Creek Watershed Partnership’s (NCWP) goal is to protect riparian areas and manage stream flows in the Nose Creek watershed to mitigate impacts of flood and drought and improve water quality for water users and aquatic life. This year, the NCWP will implement the Nose Creek Watershed Water Management Plan. Through this project, they will collaborate with partners including the University of Calgary to develop a watershed-scale model tool that will be used to predict future impacts to watershed resources from changing land use. The project will also include evaluating potential tools and strategies to maintain riparian health and water quality in the future. The model aims to support the protection and restoration of stream flows, water quality, riparian areas, wetlands and instream habitat.
Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition Society
Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition has done watershed restoration work in the Castle River and its tributaries for the past twenty years. Their project this year will focus on the removal of invasive terrestrial plants. River, creek and stream banks including bridges and culverts in the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildlands Park will be targeted for invasive plant removal and clean up. The Society will also identify areas for bioengineering to control and stop erosion and recruit volunteers for weed pulls. The project also includes reporting and communication efforts for areas of concern, including reporting the presence of off-highway vehicles in closed areas, cattle in Provincial Recreation Areas, fences needing repair, missing or damaged signage and areas that have sustained excess abuse.
Elbow River Watershed Partnership Society
The Freshwater Field Study Program is the Elbow River Watershed Partnership’s flagship program. It is a curriculum-based, hands-on field study where students explore science through the Elbow and Bow headwaters. The Field Study program focuses on outdoor education that complements the grade eight curriculum. In the program, students learn about challenges facing watershed management issues within the Elbow and Bow River Basins. This program also offers interns and educators the opportunity to help design, present and evaluate environmental education programming. This site-specific, outdoor program provides students with an opportunity to practice the scientific method. They will also expand Indigenous youth outreach, with a new program that includes a stop on the Siksika reserve.
Environment Lethbridge in partnership with the In Over My Head podcast will create a documentary-style podcast focusing on the importance of the Oldman watershed in the context of climate change resilience in southern Alberta. This project will weave together voices from watershed and environmental experts with residents including farmers, ranchers, business owners and historians to educate the public on how much everyone relies on the watershed. This project will give Environment Lethbridge and In Over My Head the unique opportunity to collaborate with groups such as the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Alberta Lake Management Society and the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society fostering new connections within the stewardship community and strengthening past collaborations with the Oldman Watershed Council and the Galt Museum & Archives.
Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
The Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) project has four parts. The Water Monitoring Program will deploy loggers to continuously monitor water temperature at strategically located sites in the watershed. The data collected will be analyzed and shared with Provincial Fisheries Biologists. CreekWatch will involve residents in hands-on water quality monitoring. Getting people involved in hands-on water quality testing connects them to the watershed and improves their relationship to this precious resource. They are preparing for the fourth year of sampling following the federal CABiN protocol. GWAS will collaborate with the Oldman Watershed Council, who is leading the process towards developing a Reference Condition Model for CABiN for the Eastern Slopes, which will significantly enhance their ability to analyze the data collected.
Green Calgary Association
Green Calgary is an urban environmental charity dedicated to healthy homes, communities and businesses. Their Summer Sustainability Series aims to equip Calgarians with knowledge and tools to manage summer water usage in their yards to reduce stormwater runoff and increase drought resilience. The Summer Sustainability Series helps people balance the desire to have a flourishing yard with caring for the environment. A series of workshops empower Calgarians to practice water conservation methods to not only save money but to help maintain the health of the local watershed. Green Calgary will offer workshops on these topics and share ways to create a drought resistant yard.
Mayatan Lake Management Society
The work Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA) has planned will build on that of the two previous years to achieve a more complete understanding of the hydrology and water quality of the lakes in the study area. This year’s project will include gathering new or updated water chemistry, biological and bathymetric sampling data for additional lakes, including approximately ten lakes with out-of-date data. This will help build a body of consistent information for approximately 70 lakes in the study area. MLMA will also work with Alberta Lake Management Society to explore and identify data relevant to land cover and land use for the uplands, wetlands and riparian areas surrounding the lakes in the study area, and to identify organizations that may be able to fill in gaps in that information. Drawing from the collected environmental data and photographic images, MLMA will also develop new communication and educational resources.
Medicine River Watershed Association
The Medicine River Watershed Association hopes to increase awareness of the importance of water quality, riparian health and the natural beauty of the Medicine River, and to advocate for community and industry involvement in protecting and conserving the Medicine River. The Medicine River Watershed Society will continue water sampling this year to build years of data to monitor river health in an ongoing way and observe trends.
Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association’s mission is to enhance, preserve and protect Pigeon Lake and its watershed as a healthy and environmentally sustainable ecosystem for current and future generations. Caring for the Lake Together is an ongoing project that aims to engage with and educate the Pigeon Lake community on the stewardship and community action goals of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan. This project will continue the events developed thanks to the 2022 WSG grant to host trivia challenge events around the lake. They will collaborate with local municipalities, partners and residents to host six trivia challenge events this year.
RiverWatch Institute of Alberta
RiverWatch Institute of Alberta delivers science education, environmental awareness and adventures on and along Alberta’s rivers and creeks. Their CreekWatch program has worked with community volunteers to collect water quality data, improve habitat and contribute to meaningful understanding of the management of our local waterways. This initiative trains volunteers from various backgrounds and age groups how to use a portable water quality lab to research and answer the question: how healthy are our creeks? The data collected helps to highlight storm water impact on our waterways, effects of infrastructure in the area and the importance of management of the riparian area. CreekWatch aims to create knowledgeable Albertans who understand science-based management of urban rivers and streams. With monitoring and stewardship, this project showcases solutions that conserve and enhance ecosystems.
Trout Unlimited Canada
Trout Unlimited Canada works to conserve, protect and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystems and their cold-water resources for current and future generations. In their project, Trout Unlimited will be rehabilitating streams through low-tech process-based restoration techniques, an emerging technique for increasing floodplain connectivity in structurally starved streams, bringing them to a self-sustaining state. They will also host a workshop on these techniques to expand stream restoration in Alberta. Through this project, they will attenuate flood flows, increase water storage, recharge groundwater aquifers, increase habitat complexity and provide valuable overwintering habitat for native fish.
Wabamun Watershed Management Council
The Wabamun Watershed Management Council will complete a pilot project to restore fish habitat by planting hardstem bulrush in shallow water areas of Wabamun Lake. The project will also include replacing non-native species with native species along a degraded section of shoreline through a hands-on educational workshop. Through this work, they will promote conservation and restoration in lake margins.
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society – Project 1
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS) works to foster environmental learning, experiences, protection, and appreciation. The Invasive Plant Project will engage citizens in invasive plant removal in Glenmore Park. This project creates educational opportunities and field experience in invasive plant identification and removal by offering weeding workshops. Through building awareness about the ecological impact of invasive species and the importance of biodiversity in resilient ecosystems, participants will be empowered to enact strategies to manage, remove and prevent invasive plant establishment.
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society – Project 2
WGPPS will also complete a report on their Southwest Calgary Ring Road Seven-Year Impact Study. With the support of a Watershed Stewardship Grant, WGPPS conducted a seven-year study on the impact of highway construction near Weaselhead Natural Area. With this final report, WGPPS will analyze data, including environmental impacts, mitigation and human perspectives, and share this data with the community. The report will provide a scientific basis to inform public policy developments on the impacts of infrastructure on biodiversity and the health of natural areas. The report will highlight gaps in mitigation practices, and support policy development that will enhance biodiversity and environmental resilience.
Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association
The Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association (WLWLSA) works to enhance and protect the sustainability and enjoyment of Wizard Lake. Their project will create interpretive, informational signage for the trail system and shoreline of Wizard Lake to showcase the area’s variety of wildlife and the history of the community. By promoting watershed education and history, the WLWLSA will expand the public’s appreciation of the watershed.