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Volunteer Spotlight - Meet Mike Murray

Posted May 9, 2018 by LSC

We are pleased to introduce you to Mike Murray, Chair of the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Review Committee. Mike has been a dedicated volunteer for this important program since the beginning.

Since 2006, the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG), made possible with funding from Alberta Environment and Parks, has provided much-needed funding to the province’s stewardship community to support their grassroots efforts. Nearly 140 stewardship groups have received more than $1,900,000 to develop and implement over 300 projects in communities across Alberta. Over the years, all of this has been made possible in part by the contributions of the Grant review committee consisting of volunteers from across Alberta.

Mike Murray, Chair of the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Review Committee, has been a dedicated volunteer for this important program since the beginning. Mike, who is also Program Manager with the Bow River Basin Council (BRBC), has long recognized the value and importance of the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG).

“The BRBC is a designated WPAC in the Alberta Government’s Water for Life Strategy and has always been a strong supporter of stewardship groups,” Mike says. “We recognized right from the beginning that the need for local on the ground organizations is critical and cannot be easily replaced or recreated, and the funding these groups receive through the WSG is critical.”

Mike explains that without the grant many community-based projects would simply not get done and this would leave a large gap in watershed management in Alberta. While stewardship groups are able to pull together local residents and stakeholders to implement on the ground, area-specific projects that benefit us all, funding to support these projects is sparse and intermittent. Stable funding sources, like the WSG, support projects in local communities, remove barriers and allow groups to concentrate on the work for which they exist.

Mike’s reasons for committing his volunteer time to the WSG program are varied. “The people on the committee are great to work with,” Mike shares. “We have a common goal of supporting stewardship activities that we know are important in protecting our precious water resources.”

Having participated on the WSG Review Committee for over 12 years, Mike is a valued and much appreciated volunteer. “These small, community groups bring invaluable knowledge, expertise and passion to their projects and all they need to grow and succeed is a little funding,” Mike says. “I’m proud to be a part of something like the WSG that enables them to be successful.”

Meet the 2018 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted April 26, 2018 by LSC

Community stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta. Read on to learn how these 14 groups will be putting stewardship into action with the help of their 2018 Watershed Stewardship Grants.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society will be conducting a base-line study to measure the impacts of the South West Calgary Ring Road within the Weaselhead Natural Environment Park, specifically on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This project will benefit the Weaselhead area, allowing the Society to base any requests for improved mitigation on credible evidence of change, and will benefit other groups and organizations when assessing likely impacts of similar large-scale construction projects in riparian areas.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership

In alignment with the Government of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy, the Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) will work to create an online and easily accessible State of the Watershed Report. The ERWP plans to collaborate with community stewardship groups, the local Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) and stakeholders in collaborative workshops to ultimately create a report that will allow all users of the basin to better understand the current state of the watershed state and how to use this information in a meaningful way.

Inside Education

Inside Education’s comprehensive water education and stewardship project aims to enhance Alberta’s watersheds over the long term by creating meaningful, accessible and curriculum-enhancing water education programs. Through classroom presentations, wetlands field trips and teacher professional development (Alberta’s Grasslands Education Program, June 2018) Inside Education will help inspire a generation of water stewards to find innovative and creative approaches to addressing watershed issues today and in the future.

Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS)

SALTS will be developing an online, shareable and publically accessible conservation-mapping tool in an effort to bridge an important data gap limiting the ability of stakeholders working to protect watershed and riparian health within the Bow River watershed. The maps created will highlight areas within the watershed with high conservation value based on the landscape’s hydrologic features and functions, and will assist to inform decisions around conservation priorities, land use planning, and riparian stewardship efforts. This project will allow groups to better focus their efforts and resources to maximize protection of the watershed.

Moose Lake Watershed Society

This year, the Moose Lake Watershed Society will utilize Landsat data to provide a history of algae blooms for Moose Lake from 1984–2017 and host a shoreline stewardship and invasive species workshop to engage the community and deliver program results. The intent is to inform residents of the dramatic changes in invasive species and water quality within the watershed, and to engage them in ways they can help mitigate these issues. The Society, along with volunteer citizen scientists, will also conduct tributary monitoring in Moose Lake using a newly purchased YSI probe to monitor basic water quality parameters to help supplement data for long-term LakeWatch programming.

Calgary River Valleys

In 2018, Calgary River Valleys will expand their “Redd Counts-Why They Count” scientific monitoring program to broaden knowledge of Brown Trout spawning areas, particularly in the never-before-surveyed area of the Elbow River upstream of the Glenmore Dam. Combining data with public outreach, the project will demonstrate to a wider audience how and why to protect the river ecosystem and fish habitat as well as the impacts of changes in the river environment on fish populations.

Jenson Reservoir Working Group

Working with volunteers and the surrounding community, the Jenson Reservoir Working Group will focus their efforts on protecting riparian land surrounding the Jenson watercourse and reservoir. The group will engage local volunteers and schools to restore eroded banks by replanting trees and native shrubs, as well as install fencing and an off-site watering system. All of these efforts will contribute to ensuring a clean water source, protecting wildlife habitat and gaining social license.

Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition has been active in watershed restoration work in the Castle River and its tributaries for the past sixteen years. This year, they continue their invasive species program, aiming to increase staff and volunteer engagement, and introduce new techniques to steward ecologically restored areas using a combination of reclamation methods, data collection and stewardship events.

Ridge Reservoir Working Group

To slow runoff from the Milk River Ridge and help decrease erosion, the Ridge Reservoir Working Group, with the assistance of Westwind School Division volunteers, will plant trees and shrubs on the banks and at the edge of the Reservoir. These efforts will directly improve and protect water quality, enhance the riparian area and provide wildlife habitat. The Group will also create and install educational, interactive signage at the restoration sites to further educate the public on the importance of riparian and watershed health.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA)

“We Love Pigeon Lake” is an umbrella project to extend the PLWA’s reach, build on progress to date, and shine light on a new healthy-shoreline initiative to achieve healthy-lake actions. Through open houses, shoreline assessments and physical restoration projects on shoreline properties, this project combines community engagement with on the ground efforts to enhance the health of Pigeon Lake watershed.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association

This project focuses on improving stewardship of water and wetland resources in Waterton Biosphere Reserve through three main activities: a Wetland Field Day for Grade 5 students from Cardston, providing support to Pincher Creek elementary teachers as they become comfortable with using “Creek Explorer Kits” to deliver outdoor environmental education for their students, and a workshop to promote wetland stewardship.

Skeleton Lake Stewardship Association

The Skeleton Lake Watershed Education Program encourages landowners in the watershed to implement best practices to protect the lake water quality, fisheries and wildlife habitat. The Education Program will include public education sessions, watershed tours and focus group sessions to engage stakeholders and encourage them to taking action. The Program longer-term goals include developing stewardship centric signage and pamphlets, making improvements to the SLSA website, and educating local land owners, land planners and developers on practices to minimize impacts on the watershed on future development.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative

The Clear Hills Watershed Initiative will be enhancing and re-opening their Wetlands Walk Way, which has been closed due to severe damage from windstorms and falling foliage. The Wetlands Walk Way is used for educational field trips highlighting the value of Alberta’s wetlands and provides an enjoyable place to view wetland habitat and wildlife to local schools and the community.

Stettler and District Community Adult Learning Council

Actively engaging with agricultural producers, the Stettler and District Community Adult Learning Council will run a series of workshops and field days covering on-farm climate solutions and climate-positive agricultural and land-use practices in order to empower members of the rural community by providing them with the tools and understanding to be part of the clean energy economy of the future.

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