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News from September 2020

Putting Green Acreages Resources to Work

September 17, 2020

On Monday, August 31, 2020, Milena McWatt (Green Acreages Program Coordinator at Land Stewardship Centre) and Ken Lewis (Conservation Coordinator at Red Deer County) had the pleasure of visiting 4 Acres Farm, a small hobby farm acreage in Red Deer County.

We were met by Nicole Poburan, who owns the acreage with her husband Stephen. Nicole showed us around and we got to meet her Nigerian dwarf goats, grazing pigs, cats, dogs, rabbits, and honeybees – a whole menagerie!

Photo: Nicole Poburan with one of her goats.

We walked the property and discussed some drainage/flooding concerns that Nicole and Stephen have, as well as other acreage stewardship projects they are interested in undertaking on their hobby farm. Nicole mentioned that she and Stephen had tons of ideas for stewardship initiatives on their acreage after attending the Green Acreages Workshop and perusing the Green Acreages Guide workbook resource for acreage owners.

Situated in Red Deer County, the Poburans’ property is eligible for project funding through LSC‘s provincial Green Acreages Program as well as Red Deer County’s Green Acreages Program.

Photo: Ken Lewis (L) with acreage owner Nicole Poburan at 4 Acres Farm.

We are looking forward to receiving one or more applications from the Poburans for projects to mitigate flooding on their acreage (potential for wet well installation, planting native trees and shrubs, wetland restoration). They will likely also apply to Red Deer County’s project funding for the establishment of a pollinator garden that will bloom from spring through fall.

Project funding for Land Stewardship Centre’s Green Acreages Program is available for two years and projects must address flooding or drought. Check out the Green Acreages pages for more information on funding, resources and workshops.


Alberta Biosphere Reserve Builds Resilience for Bats

September 16, 2020

The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA) has been hard at work to assist the endangered little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with their successful Building Resilience for Bats program. Through research and engagement with landowners in southern Alberta, the WBRA are raising awareness to save this struggling species.

Photo: This historic barn, dating back to 1913, is one of the roost locations supporting non-reproductive bats. Photo credit Elizabeth Anderson.

Located in the southwest corner of Alberta, the Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) is one of two biosphere reserves in Alberta (there are 18 across Canada). The WBR encompasses some of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse landscapes in the Canadian Rockies and prairie grasslands.

The WBRA is a non-profit organization focused on linking biodiversity conservation to sustainable human use of resources within the WBR region.

Over the past eight years, the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) has supported several projects led by the WBRA including their Wetland Field Day for students and creation of Creek Explorer Kits. Most recently, the WBRA received funding to support their efforts to assist the little brown bat – a species in trouble across Canada.

Bats are an important part of the ecosystem in the WBR however many bat species are threatened by habitat loss and white-nose syndrome – a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in North America since first noted in 2006, with some colonies showing mortality rates of 90–100%.

In the face of these drastic challenges, WBR began their Building Resilience for Bats project in 2019 to work with local landowners to support bat populations through habitat stewardship.

The intent of this project was to increase awareness among landowners and residents of the WBR about the threats facing local bat populations and how their stewardship actions could help conserve important habitat for the bats. Through active roost counts and discussions with landowners, the WBRA encouraged stewardship practices which will benefit not only bats, but many other species, particularly insectivorous and riparian/wetland dependent species, as well as enhancing water quality and quantity objectives.

The program has garnered support from organizations such as Patagonia, Tamarack and Parks Canada and was even featured in a CBC article in 2019. But the project’s most notable success has been the active interest and participation of local landowners in assisting bat populations through habitat stewardship.

“A total of 21 WBR landowners contacted us about bats and bat habitat,” shares Elizabeth Anderson, Conservation Technician with the WBRA. “As a result, seven roost counts were completed with landowners and many more great discussions were had about bat biology, threats and habitat needs.”

Elizabeth and the team at WBRA credit strong landowner engagement and funder support for the success of their program.

“The WSG was one of our primary funding sources for this project and provided necessary funds to allow us to access additional grants requiring matching funds,” adds Nora Manners, WBRA Executive Director. “Without WSG support, this work would not have been possible!”

Learn more about the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association’s Building Resiliency for Bats project.

DYK? You too can assist bat populations and create habitat and roosting sites in your own backyard, learn more with information from the Alberta Community Bat Program.


Meet a Board Member: Jodie Hierlmeier

September 16, 2020

Get to know the people behind LSC

Successful organizations don’t just happen – they are created, nurtured and guided by people. Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) is fortunate to have a strategic, innovative and forward-thinking Board of Directors that positions us as a leader in the field of environmental stewardship. Today, we introduce you to another one of the committed individuals who is part of the team that governs the organization. Meet board member Jodie Hierlmeier.

As LSC inches closer to its 25th anniversary in 2021, we can’t help but think about the people behind the organization who have enabled us to offer stewardship programs and support for a quarter century. Jodie Hierlmeier, a lawyer with the Alberta Government’s Environmental Law Section, joined the LSC board of directors over three years ago.

“I first came to know LSC through previous director, Peter Boxall. I worked for Peter as a sessional instructor with the department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta,” Jodie shares. “LSC had an opening for a director and he suggested I apply.”

At the time, Jodie was looking to get involved with an environmental organization and, upon learning more about LSC, she loved that the organization was focused on education and supporting grassroots efforts of individuals and groups to make a positive environmental difference in their communities.

In addition to her interest in the outdoors and nature, Jodie has a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta with a specialization in zoology and a LL.B. from Dalhousie University with a specialization in environmental law. She has travelled extensively through Europe, Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia and South America, working in England as an intern, with the United Nations in Kenya and providing legal support to a human rights organization in Tanzania.

Jodie’s unique perspective and diverse expertise aligns well with LSC’s mandate of enabling people to become better stewards and she says this mix of knowledge makes for a rewarding volunteer leadership experience. She feels it is critical for the leadership of an organization to apply their insight and expertise in a meaningful way to fulfil the organization’s mandate.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other directors and staff at LSC. They all have such varied experiences and interests,” she adds. “Being on the board has really helped broaden my knowledge about environmental issues around Alberta and I always learn something new at board meetings!”

Jodie goes on to express how happy she is to be involved in a small way in the work that LSC is doing with the provincial Green Acreages program and the collaborative conservation efforts within the Beaver Hills Biosphere

“I think what we’re doing at LSC is really important work,” she concludes.

Learn more about Jodie and her fellow board members.


Meet Our Newest Team Member

September 15, 2020

She’ll be focusing on climate resiliency planning

Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) is excited to introduce Lauren Van Dyke, our new Project Assistant working on climate change and adaptation in the Beaver Hills Biosphere. LSC and the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association (BHBRA) are currently in a shared-services partnership and as an LSC staff member, Lauren will be lending her skills and expertise to support both organizations’ efforts.

Originally from Cochrane, Lauren pursued a degree in environmental sciences at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Sciences as well as a Certificate in Sustainability. Following graduation, Lauren went on to work at Elk Island National Park as a Visitor Service Attendant, educating visitors about the natural history of the Beaver Hills Biosphere.

“My experience working at Elk Island for the past four years has allowed me to explore first-hand the hidden secrets of what makes the Beaver Hills Biosphere so unique,” shares Lauren. “I have truly learned to love the diversity of its landscape and am excited to devote my time to help develop a climate change and adaptation strategy.”

Lauren comes to LSC through the Adaptation Resilience Training (ART) project, a cost-shared initiative supported by Natural Resources Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE) program and Alberta Environment and Parks. The ART project aims to deepen understanding of climate change adaptation in Alberta and its applicability across sectors and professions. LSC’s project, Climate Change and Adaptation for Beaver Hills Biosphere, will support the development of an adaptive management plan that will help mitigate climate related issues in the biosphere and associated communities.

“When looking for a potential job opportunity through the ART program, this position stood out to me as I already felt drawn to the Beaver Hills Biosphere through my education and work experience,” explains Lauren. “I felt I had a unique background and set of knowledge to contribute meaningfully in developing the Climate Change and Adaptation Strategy.”

In the coming months, working closely with LSC and Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association staff, Lauren will be building out the climate resiliency plan within the Beaver Hills Biosphere. Lauren’s work on the project, and the foundation for the development of the plan, includes stakeholder engagement, research on current climate initiatives and an inventory of nature-based solutions being implemented in Alberta.

“I am excited to collaborate with the LSC team and explore opportunities through the ART program as I begin to network with other professionals and specialists working on climate change and adaptation projects around the province,” shares Lauren. “There is so much that I have yet to learn and feel like the team at the LSC will be amazing mentors for me as I start my professional career.”

You can connect with Lauren at lauren@landstewardship.org.


An Annual Report Worth Perusing

September 1, 2020

We recently launched our 2019–2020 annual report and are excited to share it with you. It’s short and sweet – a concise look at some of our collaborative efforts that are making stewardship a reality.

As we all continue to adapt to the changes 2020 has brought us, the one constant in the current ‘new normal’, and the thing we look forward to most, is continuing to engage with you in our collective efforts to protect watersheds, mitigate climate change and ensure a resilient and sustainable environment.

If you have any questions or comments at any time, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.