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Stewardship Showcase: Ghost Watershed Alliance Society

Posted November 21, 2021 by LSC

What Success in the Ghost Watershed Looks Like

Over the years, and especially since the pandemic began, the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) has observed an increase in the number of recreationalists and especially off highway vehicle (OHVs) users in the multi-use areas of the region. GWAS Executive Director, Marina Krainer lives in the area and sees firsthand the various ways OHV operators travel through the area.

“More and more, people are seeking out natural places to escape the urban commotion and due to the close proximity of the Ghost to heavily populated urban areas, this landscape is a go to” explains Marina.

“And while there are many that show respect for the land when they are here, there are also those who ride their OHVs off designated trails and through waterways.”

When this happens it breaks down shorelines, increasing sedimentation, altering environments and causing concern for and problems with sensitive fish habitat. The Ghost is home to some of the few remaining bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout populations in Alberta’s Eastern Slopes. But GWAS works hard to raise awareness, help address and repair these impacts.

Over the years, with funding from the Watershed Stewardship Grant and other sources, GWAS has been monitoring water quality, hosting bio-engineering workshops and sharing information on how to keep this important source watershed intact. In addition, GWAS is providing opportunities for recreational users of the area to get to know the Ghost Watershed through hikes, walks and hands-on outdoor educational events. The bio-engineering workshops in particular have provided opportunities for dozens of people from all walks of life including motorized recreational users to get outside and learn first-hand about watershed health, threatened native trout populations and their habitat as well as the importance of healthy riparian areas. Using simple techniques to re-establish native pioneering species such as willows and balsam poplar is the basic principle of bio-engineering, providing low-cost solutions to soil erosion problems.

At their most recent event, a two-day bio-engineering workshop led by seasoned plant ecologist Dave Polster this past September, attendees were able to put the restoration techniques they learned about during the classroom session to work in the field, restoring critical fish habitat along a tributary to Waiparous Creek in the Ghost Watershed.

“When it comes to protecting the watershed, ‘community’ is about more than just the people who live in the watershed or the GWAS members,” adds Marina.

“Creating a broader sense of community and connecting people, residents and visitors alike to the watershed through these activities enables them to see how they can make a difference. They get to appreciate how special and important source water areas such as the Ghost are, while helping to improve watershed resilience with every bio-engineering project they engage in.”

Stewardship Showcase: Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association

Posted November 20, 2021 by LSC

What it Means to Live in a Watershed, Hand Delivered

Presenting the binder to longtime resident, Ken L. A popular recreational lake located about an hour southwest of Edmonton, interest in the health of Wizard Lake dates back to the first lake management plan of 1980. This interest was rekindled during discussions for a draft 1998 lake management plan that was subsequently not adopted. Following that, a small group of motivated residents, interested in the concept of lake stewardship, wanted to create a forum for community members to take ownership and responsibility for the health and future of Wizard Lake, and participate in future lake management discussions1.

The current Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association (WLWLSA) was formed in 2006 and, since that time, the Association has taken on a range of initiatives in support of its mission to enhance and protect the sustainability of the lake for the benefit of inhabitants and users alike.

But despite their considerable efforts, the WLWLSA board of directors, as of late, have been challenged to effectively communicate accurate and clear lake health information to landowners.

“We have found that community members still have a lack of information on key issues,” explains Blake Bartlett, Chair of the Association.

“We continue to receive repeated questions about best management practices and requests for information about the general health of the lake.”

So, with funding from Land Stewardship Centre’s Watershed Stewardship Grant in 2020, WLWLSA hired a consultant to collate all existing water quality data performed at Wizard Lake in the past 15 years and summarize the results of the analysis in a plain language document they could use to support their community outreach efforts.

The final product, a binder consisting of a considerable collection of information focused on helping people understand what it means to live in a watershed, includes 30 sleeves containing pertinent information from the Government of Alberta factsheets, local municipalities, North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, ALUS, Cows and Fish as well as the consultant’s water quality data summary report.

In summer 2021, approximately 400 copies of the binder were distributed – hand delivered – to residences in the watershed, with future plans to present copies to Leduc County and County of Wetaskiwin No. 10 councils.

On the heels of this substantial outreach effort, the next step for WLWLSA is to host an open house with the consultant who completed the water quality data summary work. The goal is to highlight the recommendations from the report and have an open discussion around pressing issues in and around the lake.

When asked why these extra efforts, like hand-delivering the binder, are so important, Blake responds,

“This allows everyone with an interest in the health of the lake to have a common understanding of what we need to do and how we can get there together.”

Wizard Lake Facts [2]

  • Area 610 acres
  • Maximum depth 36.1 feet / 11.0 meters
  • Average depth 20.3 feet / 6.2 meters
  • Maximum width 0.34 miles / 0.54 kilometers
  • Length 7.2 miles / 11.59 kilometers

[1] History of WLWLSA
[2] Atlas of Alberta Lakes, University of Alberta Press

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