Stewardship groups throughout Alberta face similar challenges – such as finding dedicated volunteers for their board of directors, effectively communicating with stakeholders and ultimately trying to create and implement plans for their watersheds. In this article, we showcase how Wabamun Watershed Management Council (WWMC) has overcome some of these challenges and shown outstanding stewardship progress throughout the years.
Watershed Management Plan Takes Hold
The WWMC has received funding from the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) program since the early 2000’s. This funding has enabled them to complete numerous operational, community and environmental projects. In 2013, WWMC received WSG funding to work with a consultant to prepare a State of the Watershed Report (SOW) for the Wabamun Lake Watershed. Once completed, the SOW put strong emphasis on data deficiencies and overall information gaps on watershed health. With the SOW status listed as ‘fair,’ the group needed a collaborative approach with a solid plan that identified actionable items in order to protect and maintain the health of their lake.
This led the WWMC to work on generating a Watershed Management Plan that would ultimately provide clear goals and objectives, not only for WWMC but also for residents and landowners, surrounding municipalities, industry such as mining (now done), sand and gravel, agriculture, recreational developments and other stakeholders to take part in. The idea was slow to take off but gained momentum in 2017, thanks to support from the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). With support from the NSWA, AEP and WSG funding, the WWMC built consensus around the elements of the Plan with webinars, the creation of two educational videos, and promotion of the WMP through various community outreach efforts during the summer months.
After years of research and review, in 2020, WWMC finally had their guiding Watershed Management Plan in hand. Initial priorities for action include riparian area restoration, community engagement and education, water quality monitoring, and making sure that all relevant policies and plans are aligned for watershed health. A WMP Steering Committee has been formed and is currently developing plans to heighten community and municipal engagement by increasing awareness of the WMP. For information and updates, the WWMC and NSWA websites will be the primary websites for communication of the implementation of WMP.
WWMC Welcomes a New Chair
Sue Styles has been a resident of Parkland County near Wabamun Lake for almost 15 years and is a proud member of one of the local sailing communities. Not only does she have a deep connection to place but to nature as well.
“I have bees, a garden and I find that the environment is a sacred place that needs to be respected and stewarded by us,” Sue explains.
Sue is a recently retired registered nurse (RN) who wanted to give back, by putting her emotional intelligence and compassion skills to work in the community in a different way. So, Sue got involved and instantly became deeply committed to WWMC, joining as a board member in April 2021.
Although still a relatively new board member, she was recently asked to assume the position of Board Chair, which she eagerly took on in early December 2021. As she plants her feet in her new position with WWMC she is elated to hit the ground running with this impressive stewardship group.
Learn more about WWMC with the Let’s Go Outdoors, a Michael Short video on WWMC’s Watershed Management Plan.