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Stewardship Showcase: Moose Lake Watershed Society

Posted July 14, 2020 by LSC

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.

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