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Stewardship Showcase: Pincher Creek Watershed Group

Posted September 16, 2019 by LSC

This past July, the Pincher Creek Watershed Group hosted their 16th Annual Blueweed Blitz. This long-time, local event, spearheaded by this committed watershed stewardship group, had 82 volunteers come out to remove over 85 large bags of the noxious weed, which resulted in billions of potential seeds being removed from the environment.

Leading the way

Sixteen years ago, this type of local event was the first of its kind in the area. Noxious weeds can be relentless, and volunteers and the Pincher Creek Watershed Group alike agree that over the years the Blueweed Blitz has made an obvious improvement in local watershed health. As a result, this type of activity is now an initiative several other stewardship groups have adopted in their own watersheds.

“An event like this is extremely important. It gets the community directly and actively involved in caring for their creek and the watershed,” shares Brad Bustard, organizer and long-time volunteer with the Pincher Creek Watershed Group. “Without the involvement of a dedicated group of supporters, volunteers and landowners, our event would simply not be possible and the weeds would still be a major problem.”

Support is key

Sponsors of the event include Shell Waterton, MD of Pincher Creek, Town of Pincher Creek and Alberta Conservation Association. The event, which received Watershed Stewardship Grant support in 2017, also receives support from the Waterton Park weed crew.

“Our event continues to be a success thanks to consistent support from a great group of citizens and sponsors who are working together to improve the health of the Pincher Creek,” adds Brad. Brad goes on to add that engagement and volunteer participation from local landowners could always be improved. He suggests that getting the involvement of and help from more owners of small acreages in the area would help make the event even better in the future.

In addition to the annual weed pulls, Brad says continued education and awareness efforts are still needed to ensure citizens and caretakers are aware that, although they may have ‘pretty flowers’, noxious weeds are detrimental to the watershed. So, the Pincher Creek Watershed Group continues to advocate for beautiful scenery and landscapes that exclude noxious weeds and embraces native flora.

Get involved

Check out their Facebook page and learn more about the Pincher Creek Watershed Group’s Blueweed Blitz and other activities. Consider getting involved in a local watershed stewardship group or volunteering for a weed pull in your area.

Photos courtesy Pincher Creek Watershed Group.

Common Goal, Diverse Approach

Posted September 16, 2019 by LSC

Within Alberta there are currently eleven Watershed Stewardship Advisory Councils (WPACs) representing the major river basins. WPACs were established to directly support the Water for Life Strategy and they are important stewards of Alberta’s major watersheds.

Through their efforts, these organizations engage communities, organize information and implement projects in their watersheds – all while continuously collaborating with and supporting local, community-based watershed groups.

Understanding what they do

WPACs may have a common goal – caring for and managing Alberta’s water resources – but when you really take the time to look at it, there are many different approaches currently being taken by WPAC’s across Alberta. This summer, Kelsie Norton, Land Stewardship Centre’s Program Assistant, attended both the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) AGM and the Battle River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) AGM. Both events showcased the work they are doing and unique opportunities to interconnect with WPACs, and highlighted the significant impacts these organizations create in their respective areas.

“While attending these two WPAC annual general meetings, I was able to get a much better understanding of both NSWA’s and BRWA’s amazing teams, and how they are able to accomplish such a diverse array of projects and initiatives that involve many stakeholders and improve watershed health,” shares Kelsie. “From technical and science-based work to education and outreach projects, the amount of work these organizations do is incredible.”

A diversity of projects

For example, over the last year, NSWA completed twelve technical watershed projects, had over 180 people attend education forums focused on riparian health and groundwater, launched an informative new website and received grants for their Riparian Health Action Plan. In addition, they are in the second year of a four-year water quality monitoring program funded by EPCOR. Looking ahead, they are also establishing eight new water quality monitoring stations and updating 10 existing stations to advance the North Saskatchewan river testing areas.

BRWA is also very active. Their current efforts focus on watershed education and citizen science, offering youth programs such as X-Stream Science, Discover your Wetland and Waste in our Watersheds. Recently, BRWA also hosted a World Water Day at which local residents were invited to talk about what biodiversity and stewardship in their watershed means to them. Another triumph for BRWA was the documentary project Finding Common Ground that tells the story of a 2017 bike tour that explored energy opportunities and resilience in the Battle River watershed of Alberta. In October 2019, BRWA will be following this up by offering Finding Common Ground 2.0, a tour and professional development/training opportunity that enables participants to gain first-hand experience in energy production, distribution and efficient use.

Partnerships and sharing are key

In order to strengthen watershed stewardship outcomes, combining efforts and sharing resources is essential for both WPACs. NSWA and BRWA are working hard to bring people together and protect Alberta’s previous water resources. Land Stewardship Centre is a proud supporter of all the great work all WPACs have accomplished over the years.

Learn more about Alberta’s WPACs. Learn how you can get involved and keep up to date with events and current initiatives offered by BRWA and NSWA.

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