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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.

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