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Sasquatch Enlisted to Support Stewardship Efforts

Posted May 16, 2019 by LSC

Clear Water Landcare has been around for a while; since the late 1990’s in fact. Over the years, their vision of people living in and enjoying a healthy watershed, and their commitment to raising awareness with people about sustainable land and water use has never wavered. While they’ve been steadfast in vision and commitment, they’ve embraced creativity when it comes to their approach. Learn how Clear Water Landcare enlisted the support of a ‘unique partner’ to help them with their watershed stewardship efforts.

A Fresh Approach

A dedicated stewardship group, Clear Water Landcare has delivered numerous information sessions and assisted many landowners with various projects such as restoring habitats, off-site watering demonstrations and enhancing riparian habitat. They’ve accomplished much on private land in collaboration with landowners through their Caring for My Land and other successful programs. However, to encourage even greater respect for and stewardship of public land, Clear Water Landcare used a fresh approach, enlisting the help of Sasquatch to help spread the word.

Naturally, the real Sasquatch was too busy to make personal appearances, so the initiative is supported by a lively and imaginative caricature appearing prominently on signage and other communications throughout Sasquatch’s “backyard”. On these signs and communiques, Sasquatch “welcomes visitors to his backyard” and reminds them to enjoy nature and its bounty with respect.

“Sasquatch and the Welcome to Our Backyard initiative is a positive and fun way to remind people – both visitors and locals alike – that it is a privilege to live, work and play in one of the most amazing places in Canada,” explains Gary Lewis, the Clear Water Landcare Supervisor. “And with any privilege comes great responsibility.”

Stewardship That Goes Beyond Borders

Sasquatch’s “backyard” has grown beyond Clearwater County to include the eastern slopes municipalities of Yellowhead, Brazeau, Greenview and Mountain View. The area is rich with natural history, biodiversity and landscapes that include waterfalls, rare plants and diverse wildlife.

Sasquatch’s messages to visitors to “his backyard” include being sensitive to and respectful of the important landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems while enjoying nature and recreating in the area. Sasquatch is also quick to point out that how we use our land affects water supply and quality throughout the watershed and encourages everyone to treat all natural areas with care and respect.

Support for Multiple Initiatives

Sasquatch also appears in support of the Clearwater Trails Initiative (CTI), a collaborative effort between Clearwater County, industry partners, landowners, and provincial government, focuses on sustainable trail development, encouraging trail users to steer clear of sensitive upland and riparian areas.

CTI sounds like many other stewardship initiatives, right? Not so, because CTI enlisted the help of Sasquatch to capture people’s attention and help deliver these important messages by welcoming visitors to the area and encourages all to enjoy nature and its bounty with respect.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a nature photographer or a hiker, a horseback rider or quad rider, a picnicker or overnight camper, a hunter or angler,” adds Gary. “We all have an important part to play in caring for the wonderful, wild place that Sasquatch calls home.”

Learn more about the Clearwater Trails Initiative and other Clearwater County efforts, including Clear Water Landcare programs and watch for Sasquatch the next time you find yourself in his backyard.

Meet the 2019 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted March 26, 2019 by LSC

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta. Learn how these 19 groups will be putting their 2019 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Bighill Creek Preservation Society

Following recommendations from Alberta Environment and Parks, the Society are continuing their second year of water quality analysis work on the Bighill Creek. The Society will extend their sampling efforts into the upper creek basin, water sampling at seven sites and soil sediment sampling at four sites. These monitoring efforts will fully reveal the overall water quality within the Bighill Creek basin and validate the scientific data the group has collected.

Calgary River Forum Society

Their work this year builds on the momentum from the Society’s 2018 project and will investigate the impacts of engineering projects in the Elbow River on the location and number of Brown Trout redds spawning nests. Using citizen science, geo-location mapping and educational efforts, the Society will determine and communicate the impacts of current projects on spawning nests.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership

The Partnership will be conducting phase two of their State of the Watershed Report, which includes data compilation, analysis, finalizing content and publishing an online mapping tool. The project is a continuation of an inclusive and collaborative effort to provide a snapshot of the current physical condition of the basin.

Foothills Restoration Forum

The Forum, in partnership with Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative, will develop and deliver a two-day workshop on “Assessment Tools and Best Management Practices for Reclamation in Native Grasslands in the Northern Fescue Natural Subregion”. The workshop will be designed for reclamation practitioners, students, agrologists, ecologists, land managers, regulators, planners and anyone interested in learning the tools and best management practices for assessing and restoring native grassland ecosystems.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

The Friends will be completing their “Tree Mapping: Informed Stewardship in Fish Creek Provincial Park” project. The project includes extensive and systematic data collection about the location and status of wrapped poplars in Fish Creek Provincial Park using an existing digital application created by Alberta Environment and Parks. This work will prioritize and organize stewardship outings to unwrap or rewrap trees at risk of girdling as well as remove invasive species, collect litter and plant native trees and shrubs along riparian areas.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

For this project, the Friends will be conducting research on recreational rock dams as there has been an increase in sightings of these structures by volunteers involved in the Park Watch Program. There is limited local research on the subject of rock dams and there is concern these structures may negatively impact creek ecology by creating obstacles or barriers to fish passage, impacting water quality or altering stream characteristics. This research will determine the impact of rock dams and act as a foundation for creating new public outreach messaging to educate park users as well as redefine the Park Watch Steward role to include the dismantling of these structures.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society

The Society has several activities planned for their education, outreach and collaboration program for 2019. Activities include hosting a bio-engineering field day for the community, investigating opportunities to utilize science graduates to address information gaps in the State of the Watershed report, conducting a camp clean-up day, and hosting an AGM and Membership Forum.

Jumpingpound Creek Watershed Partnership

The Partnership will be conducting surface water quality monitoring that will help establish baseline conditions, measure future changes in water quality, direct resources to improve land management practices where needed and contribute to a local understanding of the water resources.

Lac La Nonne Enhancement & Protection Association

In an effort to make Klondike Park’s existing educational centre interactive and engaging, the Association is installing signage that promote sustainable activities at points of interest on the lake. They will also be using native plants in landscaping and installing bat and bird boxes for the benefit of wildlife. In addition, they will be updating their website and increasing their social media efforts to further promote the park’s educational centre.

Livingstone Landowners Group

With their grant, the Group will be producing and distributing five short educational videos to engage and educate landowners, nature clubs and others wanting to better understand landscape hydrology and stream ecology. The videos will use conventional, aerial drone and underwater videography and on-site interviews with experts and stakeholders to show how landscape hydrology, stream ecosystem health and water security are connected through natural processes and influenced by land use decisions.

Love the Lake

The group will use their grant to hire a summer student who will remove the noxious weed, Himalayan Balsam, to prevent the weed from re-infesting the shoreline of Pigeon Lake. In addition, the group will be educating residents and visitors on the importance of using native species in landscaping and the ecological consequences of noxious weeds.

Mayatan Lake Management Association

The Association will be implementing their Mayatan Lake Watershed Management Plan through several activities including hosting an educational field day for local grade 5 students, partnering with Parkland County on educational signage and collaborating with the Alberta Lake Management Society on water quality monitoring.

Milk River Ridge Reservoir Working Group

The group will be planting native trees and shrubs on the edge of the Reservoir to enhance the riparian area and decrease erosion. This work will slow runoff from the Milk River Ridge, protect water quality and increase biodiversity. The group will also install signage along the shoreline to educate the public on the importance of a healthy riparian area for the benefit of the watershed.

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)

NCC’s project involves implementing a conservation planning process designed around NCC’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) framework. The NACP is a partnership NCC initiated with the federal government to accelerate the rate of private land conservation and protect important natural habitat in communities through planning and adaptive management. In 2019, a large part of the NACP process will involve Conservation Priority Mapping, a collaborative process that will develop and update mapping products to help inform conservation priorities, land use planning and partnership opportunities at a fine scale all across the Red Deer River watershed.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA)

The LakeWise: Invasive Species Citizen Action Project, led by PLWA, is a local initiative to address critical issues threatening the ecological health and recreational value of Pigeon Lake, and economic health of the region. A key part of the overall LakeWise program, the project which will empower the community with the knowledge and tools to help keep aquatic invasive species out of Pigeon Lake and to contribute to the eradication of noxious and invasive plants in the Watershed.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is partnering with a local stewardship group, the Lake Isle, Lac Ste Anne Water Quality Management Society, to reduce the presence of Flowering Rush within the watershed. Through training and removal workshops by partners and community volunteers, these efforts will reduce the need for herbicidal spray and reduce the presence of this prevalent, invasive species.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association

This project focuses on improving stewardship of wetland and riparian habitat in Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) through two main activities: delivering the 8th annual Wetland Field Day for local Grade 5 students and launching a two-year project to build resilience for little brown bat populations in WBR. The Association will provide landowners with information and support to identify bat concentrations/roosting areas on their properties, conduct bat monitoring, and implement best practices for roosting and foraging habitat management.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

Building on the momentum of their 2018 project, the Society will be conducting year two of their Weaselhead South West Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR) Impact Study 2019. The SWCRR is currently under construction along the western edge of the Weaselhead Park (located at the head of Glenmore Reservoir) and, following completion, is expected to carry ~100,000 vehicles per day. The study will allow timely action to be taken to correct sediment spills and concerns regarding wildlife movement across the construction zone and will improve understanding of the environmental impacts of such projects and the effectiveness of common mitigation measures.

West-Central Forage Association

The Association will be creating a series of educational videos to be featured on their website and social media channels, which will communicate their stewardship work and address the importance of positive interactions between lake users and the environment.

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