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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.

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