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News from March 2021

Stewards in Motion: Spring into Stewardship Event

March 24, 2021

This year’s Stewards in Motion virtual event focuses on the achievements of and lessons learned by Alberta’s watershed stewardship groups, and aims to generate a conversation among stewards that enables them to learn about each other and learn from each other.

Join us April 8, 2021 from 10 AM-11:30 AM to kickstart the stewardship season with motivating presentations from and Q&A with:

  • Rural Routes to Climate Solutions
  • Weaselhead Preservation Society
  • Peace Country Beef & Forage Association
  • Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
  • Trout Unlimited Canada

Register today>

Who should attend?

  • Volunteer community stewardship groups
  • Municipal and provincial government (staff, elected officials)
  • Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC)
  • ENGOs
  • Industry

Learn more about Stewards in Motion


Stewardship Showcase: Mayatan Lake Management Association

March 22, 2021

Mayatan Lake Management Association knows that a plan without action is just a dream. Instead of allowing their watershed management plan to collect dust, they utilized their Watershed Stewardship Grant funding to move words to action. Learn more about this local stewardship group’s recent efforts.

Protecting the watershed

The association, which formed in 2010 in response to development pressures at Mayatan Lake, works to protect the lake for current and future generations. This local, volunteer-led association provides a forum for the community to discuss, advocate and educate the public on actions to preserve and protect the Mayatan Lake watershed.

A clear plan of action

A popular recreational fishing spot, efforts to ensure Mayatan Lake remains sustainable and thriving began years ago and continue. The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) first developed The Mayatan Lake State of the Watershed Report in 2012, followed by the Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan in 2016. The management plan, completed through a partnership between NSWA, MLMA, Alberta Environment and Parks, Parkland County and other key stakeholders, outlined 39 policy, technical, and stewardship recommendations for the watershed.

In 2019, with funding from the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) program, the MLMA began to put some of the recommendations from the plan into action. This project, aimed to improve and maintain the health of the watershed, aligned with the goals of the Alberta Government’s Water for Life Strategy.

“The management plan has no value without commitment to implementation,” explains Walter Neilson, President of the MLMA. “This project ensured the Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan continues to be a living document.”

The association’s activities within the last year have been varied. Following recommendations in the plan, the MLMA installed signage on the boat launch advising lake users about invasive species, engaged in Alberta Lake Management Society’s LakeKeepers program testing two additional basins, and planned several educational days, shoreline clean ups and workshops, which were postponed due to COVID-19.

Adapting during the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, keeping the momentum is critical and continuing with the Implementation of the Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan is key to ensuring the long-term health of the Lake. Walter and the MLMA have big plans for the future but recognize the importance of ongoing funding to their efforts.

“We are a small association with limited funding and without the funding provided through the Watershed Stewardship Grant program, our association would simply not be able to carry out its work,” says Walter. “In our view, lake watershed management is vitally important work and requires a stable funding framework.”

Learn more about The Mayatan Lake Management Association and other community-based stewardship projects funded through the WSG since 2006 in our WSG Story Map.


Stewardship and Staycations: A boost for your acreage

March 21, 2021

Staycations during the pandemic can lead to big stewardship results on your acreage.

Since the pandemic began many of us are spending more time at home, investing our time, energy and money into our homes and properties. Green Acreages Coordinator, Milena McWatt, spoke with a few acreage owners about what this means for them and their acreages, how it impacts stewardship and how the Green Acreages Program can help.

Terry Krause and Elizabeth Simpson, Red Deer County

After living in the city, Terry Krause and his wife, Elizabeth Simpson, decided to move to the country to get into environmentally friendly household food production. Wilderness was a big part of his youth and he still can’t live without nature in his day-to-day life.

Terry, who has a background in ecology, purchased his Red Deer County acreage in 2007 and began working in earnest on the land in 2008. He participated in the Green Acreages Program and used the Green Acreages Guide workbook to support his plans for transforming his property into a healthy, natural oasis. The Green Acreages Guide helped Terry develop and reinforce his vision for the acreage transformation. He was excited when he saw it and believes it is just what people without any experience in owning an acreage or with any special experience in ecology or biology need to become better stewards of their properties.

Originally, the 2.5 acres were covered with quack grass, timothy and Canada thistle. Terry removed this undesirable vegetation and rehabilitated the soil before planting a lawn of slow-growing fescue grass. He now only mows his lawn three times per year.

Terry and Elizabeth are also interested in food production, so they established a huge vegetable garden and planted 1000 trees and shrubs (45 different species). The garden was designed to create a diverse ecosystem that supports wildlife and helps to mitigate the risk of flooding and drought on the property. They also used nature-scaping throughout the acreage to attract wildlife and to provide blooms from spring through fall to support pollinators. Since transforming their acreage, the Krauses have observed 105 different species of birds alone on the property.

When asked how the pandemic had impacted his relationship with his acreage, Terry replies, “Can you imagine living in the city during this pandemic? This is our sanctuary and refuge. It is phenomenal to be surrounded by nature during this time.”

Terry adds he and his wife are content on their acreage and don’t feel like they are missing out by not going anywhere since COVID-19 hit. Life on his acreage has allowed him to thrive spiritually and keep physically active while working on the property. He also credits watching the birds and wildlife on his property with supporting their mental health during these unprecedented times.

Terry offers some good advice for new acreage owners or those who are new to stewardship. Start small, take baby steps and seek a mentor who has done it already. He suggests starting with a few islands of mixed native trees and shrubs, which are low maintenance once they are established.

A recipient of the Blue Skies Award, Terry has a lot to be proud of with regards to his property. For him, being in tune with nature and providing habitat has left him with a phenomenal sense of contentment and a feeling of being grounded. Visitors never want to leave, and he isn’t either.

Vanessa and Jeff Sigurdson, Red Deer County

Joined by Ken Lewis, Conservation Coordinator for Red Deer County, Milena also visited with Vanessa and Jeff Sigurdson. Vanessa and Jeff became Red Deer County acreage owners about four years ago, in a move that brought them closer to Vanessa’s parents and back in touch with the land after living in the United States for several years.

As newer acreage owners, Vanessa and Jeff said that the Green Acreages workshop and the Green Acreages Guide workbook have been very educational and informative. Participating in Land Stewardship Centre’s Green Acreages Program has given them new ideas and concepts, and a strong foundation to start planning stewardship initiatives on their acreage. They also benefited from practical advice and resources available through Red Deer County.

The pandemic has allowed them to save money that would otherwise be spent on things like vacations and which they are now earmarking to do some stewardship projects to improve their property. Looking ahead to a spring, summer and fall of 2021 filled with ‘staycation time’, Vanessa and Jeff are most excited to plant an eco-buffer of trees and shrubs to shelter their property from wind, mitigate flooding and drought, and make the acreage more inviting. They are also exploring the idea of creating a rain garden or bioswale to manage flooding on their acreage and intend to apply for Green Acreages funding to help them on their stewardship journey.

Funding support for acreage owners

With support from the Government of Alberta’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, for the first time ever, LSC can offer funding for acreage owners. This exciting new addition to the Green Acreages Program provides funding (50:50 cost share up to $2500 per project) to acreage owners across Alberta to help them implement initiatives that enhance natural watershed function and reduce the impacts of flooding and drought.

Eligible projects include:

  • 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 using 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)

With any of these projects, LSC encourages use of native species in planting initiatives.

Learn more online about the Green Acreages Program, including program details and how to apply online and kickstart a project on your acreage during your ‘staycation’. You are also encouraged to connect with Milena McWatt, Green Acreages Program Coordinator at milena@landstewardship.org.


Meet a Board Member: Brenda Gheran

March 20, 2021

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 committed individual who is part of the team that governs the organization. Meet one of our newest board members, Brenda Gheran.

Growing up as a northern Alberta farm kid, spending time outdoors both influenced and intrigued Brenda.

“Being outside, going camping – it all helped to instill in me an appreciation of the value and beauty of nature and what we as individuals can do to protect it,” shares Brenda.

With a formal education from MacEwan’s Advertising and Public Relations and the University of Alberta Extension Human Resources programs, Brenda’s passion for nature has remained a constant throughout her career. She has worked in several sectors including forestry, petrochemical and municipal government, including working with the Alberta Water Council, the Clean Air Strategic Alliance and individual airshed groups.

Brenda’s continued work in the public safety/emergency management space has raised her level of awareness of the important role risk-based land use planning plays in mitigating the effects of flooding and wildfires and working with nature to prevent disasters.

In 2018, Brenda fused her communications and stakeholder relations experience with her passion for stewardship and was appointed to the LSC board of directors. She recognized a natural alignment with LSC’s mandate and her own personal philosophies on achieving balance while realizing efficiencies through collaboration.

“It is rewarding to know and work with people who are thinking and doing something about stewarding the land,” she explains. “I see it as contributing to a worthy legacy for our next generation.”

During her time on the board, Brenda has contributed directly to organizational awareness efforts and fostering connections with stakeholders to create strategic partnerships and explore fund development opportunities.

Among the many benefits of volunteering, Brenda says the opportunities to expand her knowledge and network, as well as develop skillsets have made her value her board experience. In addition, contributing to an organization that serves the greater good, simply feels good. And to any young professional considering lending their time to a worthwhile organization, Brenda says go for it.

“I’ve volunteered my whole life and have never regretted a single moment of it,” she adds. “Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, be introduced to new people, new ideas and have fun while giving back.”

Learn more about LSC‘s Board of Directors.


Green Acreages Workshop coming to Rocky View County

March 18, 2021

Do you have an acreage in Rocky View County?

Join us on April 20, 2021 from 7 pm – 8:30 pm at this live, online Green Acreages workshop where you 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 learn about the projects that qualify.
  • And more.

Presented by Land Stewardship Centre and hosted by Rocky View County.

Register today.