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News from July 2020

Green Acreages: Project Funding and Workshops

July 15, 2020

In the last edition of Grassroots News, we introduced you to our newest staff member, Milena McWatt who is leading the reinvigorated and enhanced Green Acreages Program.

Here’s what’s new and what the program has to offer this year.

Funding for Acreage Owners

With funding from Alberta’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program and support from rural municipalities, Land Stewardship Centre is expanding the Green Acreages program to include funding opportunities for small acreage, hobby farm and recreational property owners to support cost-shared, eligible stewardship initiatives on their properties. To be eligible, cost-share projects must incorporate beneficial management practices that will lessen the impacts of flooding and drought incidents and enhance ecosystem services.

Examples of eligible stewardship projects include:

  • Projects that enhance natural watershed function
  • Wetland enhancements, such as enhancing riparian and upland vegetation associated with wetlands
  • Stormwater management, such as erosion controls, planting vegetation, wetland enhancements or construction, hydrologic function enhancement for the watershed (may include planting, contouring, wetland construction), floodplain restoration, low-impact developments (such as rain gardens and bioswales)
  • Riparian zone enhancements through planting and buffers
  • Shoreline remediation and/or re-naturalization, such as planting native species, reinforcing shoreline through soil bioengineering and other natural methods
  • Erosion reduction measures (e.g., shoreline or riparian naturalization with native plants, establishing a buffer of native plants between landscaped areas and bodies of water, and re-establishment of shorelines through soil bioengineering and other natural methods)
  • Exclusion fencing, off-site watering systems and stream crossings (e.g., to keep livestock out of water bodies and away from riparian areas)
  • Use of native species in planting initiatives

Apply Today

If you are an acreage or recreational property owner looking to access financial incentives to increase ecosystem services on your property while mitigating against flood and drought, please complete the online application form.

Virtual Workshops

In addition to offering cost-sharing funding opportunities for acreages owners, this year, we are relaunching our Green Acreages workshops. Until we can all safely gather in person, we have adapted the original format to a virtual workshop.

During these live, online workshops participants will learn about stewardship and how to:

  • Better manage and improve your property.
  • Evaluate your acreage.
  • Map your property assets and plan your activities.
  • Access funding to help with a stewardship project and the projects that qualify.
  • And more.

We have the following live, online workshops scheduled. They all run from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Click on the links to register for a workshop.

Have questions? Want to know more? Contact Milena Mcwatt, Green Acreages Program Coordinator, to learn more.

Green Communities Guide Reboot

July 15, 2020

Originally published in 2009, the Green Communities Guide (GCG) has resonated deeply with municipalities and the stewardship community across Alberta and beyond over the years. Municipalities continue to utilize fundamentals from the original GCG to guide their sustainability and land-use planning efforts.

To ensure this important resource addresses current needs and demands, we sought and received funding support from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to update the GCG, with a refreshed focus on nature-based solutions and new methods of delivery including a digital narrative and online format. Work will begin on the project this summer and we expect to make it available online in early 2022.

New, Updated, Timely

This new and updated resource will present audiences with nature-based climate solutions that promote and support sustainable development and conservation of valuable natural resources. Available electronically, the new publication will be readily accessible to Realtors, municipalities, land-use planners, community groups and developers across Alberta, to help plan and implement strategies to conserve valuable natural assets as communities develop and expand.

Incorporating Nature-Based Solutions

With a focus on nature-based solutions, the updated GCG will convey knowledge that helps to advance development solutions that offer climate, biodiversity and other mutual benefits for people and nature. Some of the anthropogenic examples and case studies in the current GCG will be replaced with examples that focus on the natural aspects of green communities. Additionally, the updated version will look more deeply into nature-based solutions for urban communities and link these types of infrastructure with societal benefits, climate change adaptation and the municipal role in delivering and supporting ecosystem services.

Supporting Community Resiliency

This revised focus on utilizing nature-based solutions to support community resiliency is a key and emerging need among developers and municipalities given the issues associated with global climate change. And considering the current global pandemic, building community sustainability and resiliency is more critical now than ever.

Share Your Ideas, Experiences

Have ideas, experiences or case study examples you think would be a good fit for the new GCG? Contact us.

Stewardship Showcase: Moose Lake Watershed Society

July 14, 2020

Situated west of Bonnyville, Alberta, Moose Lake is a relatively small lake that flows into the Beaver River. Its sandy beaches, campgrounds and opportunities for water-based activities have made it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. While recreation and community growth are important to the region, human activity on and around lakes can have a negative impact on water quality and the surrounding native habitat. Over the years, as activity levels intensified and development pressures increased, people started to notice the health of Moose Lake was being affected.

A Community Responds

Moose Lake receives intense recreational use during summer, particularly on weekends, and has dense blooms of blue-green algae during late summer and fall. In 2002, a group of concerned volunteers formed the Moose Lake Water for Life Committee, which later became the Moose Lake Watershed Society (MLWS) in 2008. Their purpose was to address the health of Moose Lake, increase public knowledge, and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Since coming together, MLWS has focused much of their effort on raising awareness and educating lake residents and the public about lake heath and water quality, by reducing phosphorous loading and preventing riparian habitat damage. They have also completed numerous water quality studies and monitoring projects to gain a better understanding of the health of the watershed.

Supporting the Effort

Over the years, MLWS has worked closely with stakeholders including Lakeland Agricultural Research Association (LARA) and the Lakeland Industry & Community Association (LICA), the Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) for the Beaver River Watershed for their events, activities and initiatives.

The MLWS has also received Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) funding for several projects, including their highly successful ‘Walking with Moose’ program, which has been running successfully for 11 years. The Walking with Moose program offers grade five students a day-long field trip to learn about biodiversity and habitat, water quality, healthy shorelines and forest ecology. Approximately 400 students participate in the program annually.

Staying Focused, Doing More

As part of their ongoing efforts, and with support from the Watershed Stewardship Grant, MLWS and LICA launched their second annual ‘Keep Our Lake Blue’ campaign, encouraging residents to set goals and take action to improve Moose Lake water quality by reducing runoff and decreasing phosphorous loading in the lake. Some of the 52 recommended ‘Keep Our Lake Blue activities include preventing runoff and pollutants from entering the lake by using water wisely, landscaping with native plants and establishing vegetative shoreline buffers. People who commit to taking action to improve the quality of Moose Lake’s water can sign up to receive a lawn sign.

“This year, in addition to the Keep Our Lake Blue campaign, we received funding to do more water quality monitoring, including tributary testing and individual basin sampling,” explains Kellie Nichiporik, chair of the Moose Lake Watershed Society. “We’ll compile water quality monitoring data from this year and previous years with the core sampling that was done last year to develop a nutrient budget for Moose Lake.”

Kellie goes on to explain that a nutrient budget will help target future restoration and education/awareness projects on Moose Lake to have the greatest impact possible with limited resources. Learn more about MLWS and their efforts here or on Facebook.