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Build Trust, Provide Support, Protect a Watershed

Posted March 13, 2018 by LSC

The Vermillion River Watershed Alliance’s (VRWA) vision is simple – a healthy and sustainable watershed. With a concerted effort, a lot of relationship building, and some financial incentives to support on-the-ground activities, this small, collaborative watershed group is bringing their vision to life through projects to restore drained wetlands.

A focused effort

In an effort to ensure a healthy and sustainable watershed, and to safeguard Alberta’s vulnerable water resources, VRWA is advancing the objectives outlined in the Vermilion River Watershed Management Plan through their Vermilion River Watershed Restoration and Enhancement Project (VRWREP). The main goal of the VRWREP project is to restore or enhance wetlands and riparian areas within the Vermilion River Watershed.

“This watershed has been a priority consideration for both flood and drought mitigation,” explains Mara Erickson, Extension & Stewardship Coordinator for the VRWA. “Healthy wetlands and riparian areas are an important piece of this puzzle which is why they are the focus of this project.”

Reduce barriers

More often than not, these wetland and riparian areas are on private land. While many landowners are interested in and would like to do restoration activities on their land, the financial requirements for projects of this nature can a barrier. The VRWREP project helps address this issue by partnering with private landowners who are interested in doing restoration work on their land, and providing them with financial incentives to support their efforts.

“This is a win-win situation,” says Mara. “We help ease the financial burden and the landowners are responsible for the actual restoration and enhancement activities.”

In the words of one participating landowner who fenced off livestock access to the Vermilion River, “The cost to do this type of work can be prohibitive for a landowner. But with [financial] support, projects that improve water quality along the river, and have long term environmental benefits for people, wildlife, vegetation, can become a reality.”

Collaborate to succeed

To date, VRWA has worked with 26 landowners to implement 33 projects, resulting in 4500 tree seedlings planted in degraded wetland areas, and over 125 hectares of wetlands and riparian areas enhanced or restored. Through the project, VRWA engaged more than 10 partner groups and municipalities and, through a partnership with the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, utilized three separate sources of funding: the Government of Alberta’s Watershed Resiliency & Restoration Program, Environment & Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) National Wetland Conservation Fund, and ECCC’s EcoAction Community Funding Program.

“Working with partners really helped us achieve success and everyone played an important role,” Mara adds. “Local municipalities were instrumental in spreading the word to landowners about the funding opportunity.”

Trust supports success

Mara says that the key to establishing successful partnerships is to first build trust. Community involvement, listening to potential participants’ stories, and understanding their concerns and values is critical to designing a project that will work on the ground. Mara adds that restoration activities have to make both ecological as well as economic sense for the one making the operation change.

Learn more about VRWA and their VRWREP project.

10 Tips for Writing the Best Grant Application

Posted January 22, 2018 by LSC

Land Stewardship Centre is pleased to once again be accepting applications for the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG). If you have a project in mind to enhance, protect or restore Alberta’s precious water resources, consider applying. Stewardship and synergy groups, naturalist organizations, recreational and community associations, and other non-profits can apply. We invite and encourage creative, innovative and collaborative projects.

As you think about preparing your grant application, our new Stewardship Program Coordinator, Alexandra Frederickson, has put together 10 tips and suggestions that will help make your grant application the best it can be:

  1. Contact the Program Coordinator to get feedback on your project. The Program Coordinator can provide insight and feedback on whether your group is eligible, if your project is aligned with WSG priorities as well as suggestions for ways to improve your application.
  2. Read the Application Process document and other program resources on the WSG webpage. After consulting with the Program Coordinator, it’s suggested you read through all these documents to gain insight into what the WSG is, what the grant has funded in the past and what the criteria and restrictions are. With this understanding of the WSG, you can begin to shape your proposal accordingly.
  3. Ensure your project is aligned with at least one of the key priorities identified by Alberta Environment and Parks. The WSG was created to support the Alberta Government’s Water for Life Strategy so it is important to ensure that your project aligns with one or more of the 6 listed priorities, found in Application Process document. In your application, clearly show the link between your project and the priority you are addressing.
  4. Be concise and to the point. Groups often struggle to hit the right balance between providing sufficient detail while still remaining concise. Strive to adequately describe all aspects of your project – act like the person reading the application has never heard of your project or group – while keeping answers clear, concise and free from repetition or jargon.
  5. Make sure the budget balances (meaning expenses and revenues are equal) and that all costs indicated are associated directly with your project. You want to ensure that your written proposal and budget are telling the same story. Please also ensure that WSG limits (i.e. 75% max of budget for wages/salaries, etc.) for the budget are respected (these restrictions can be found in the Application Form).
  6. Have realistic goals and measureable outcomes. Make sure that your project outcomes make sense give the time-frame and budget, and ensure that there are ways of evaluating these outcomes (i.e. if you’re planning on holding an event, you might say you hope to reach 100 people and that event attendance will be tracked via EventBrite with participants being sent a follow-up survey).
  7. Think out-side-the-box. While your organization may have applied to the WSG in the past for similar projects, think about how this year’s project can be more creative or innovative to highlight that you are continually evolving to meet current needs. In addition, is there something you can add to your project, like an educational initiative or other, to meet more than one of the WSG key priorities? Projects that meet more than one priority are more likely to be funded.
  8. Are there ways you can partner with others? We encourage you to visit LSC’s Stewardship Directory, and Synergy Alberta’s and Nature Alberta’s Club Directories for a list of stewardship, synergy and naturalist organizations in Alberta. You can also think of industry, municipalities, WPACs or larger non-profits – all of those entities are eligible to partner with for the WSG. Partnering with other groups who are performing similar work reduces redundancies and increases your projects impact. Partnering with others also provides cash and in-kind contributions to your project which only strengthens your application.
  9. Utilize additional supporting documents and information. Include letters of support, maps or any other document you think will highlight how your group can be successful and impactful in your efforts, is suggested for a strong application. Be creative with the additional documents- was your groups good work featured in a newspaper article? Do you have letters of support from multiple sources? Do you have before and after photos from a previous restoration project to highlight past efforts and successes?
  10. Completely answer all questions. While this may seem simple, it is important since incomplete applications are not accepted. Double checking your application and making sure everything has been addressed and included is recommended.

Have questions?

For more information, contact the Stewardship Program Coordinator by email or phone 1–877–727–5276 extension 225.

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