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Meet the (spring) 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted September 18, 2015 by LSC

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta.

Read on to learn how these 21 groups will be putting their (spring) 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Watershed Grant Recipients

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
With a focus on the health and restoration of the Castle Wilderness, the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) will be continuing to build on work done in previous years. CCWC will continue invasive plant removal in recognized areas of high use while continuing to reach new areas for monitoring and reclamation. They will participate and host stewardship events and hikes to engage volunteers, encourage stewardship and create awareness on how to maintain a healthy watershed to sustain the headwaters and land. CCWC will also provide input into various planning frameworks including the West Slope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan, the Headwaters Action Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
Clear Hills Watershed Initiative (CHWI) will be creating awareness of the group and their efforts to improve the watershed within the community. CHWI will upgrade their website, participate in county newsletters and the local paper, continue surface water quality monitoring and host an annual Community Supper. For 2015, CHWI is focused in gaining further participation from young people through engaging local schools, a youth category in their photo contest, and the Fish in Schools (FinS) Program.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
To increase the awareness and understanding of the watershed, Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) is continuing to provide the Freshwater Field Study Program. The program is designed to increase watershed literacy, and give students hands on learning opportunities, such as learning how to measure water quality in a professional and scientific way, to experience the headwaters of the Elbow and Bow rivers. Students from grades 8, 9 and Biology 20, as well as school teachers, volunteers and program interns learn how minimizing negative impacts on land uses help maintain water quality and quantity.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society (FFCPPS) 2015 project consist of three components; first FFCPPS has a public awareness and education campaign. The campaign has a goal of increasing public appreciation of the Fish Creek watershed through a wide variety of opportunities such as talks, guided walks and minibus tours, displays at local events, an annual water festival and hands-on stewardship activities. Secondly, FFCPPS focuses on watershed stewardship such as weed pulls, tree wrapping, clean ups to improve the quality of habitat and foster responsible park use by engaging volunteers and park users. Lastly, FFCPPS will host a riparian restoration in the lowest reach of Fish Creek. Based on riparian health inventories done in 2012 and 2013, FFCPPS will develop a restoration strategy then will work to restore 500 metres of stream bank with over 50 volunteers.

Foothills Land Trust
Foothills Land Trust will establish conservation easements on floodway riparian properties along a stretch of Highwood River to create a monitored corridor to naturally mitigate future floods, to improve water quality, to improve biodiversity and to improve wildlife movement. Once these easements have been created they will help to establish a stewardship group to help monitor and maintain the conservation easements. The stewardship group will increase knowledge, awareness and participation in activities that restore and enhance the ecological connectivity and function of these Highwood River riparian lands. Overall the project aims to enhance community capacity to restore and maintain watershed functions on this specific land base and beyond by creating a hub of activity, resources and information dedicated to watershed stewardship.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
In spring 2014 the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) initiated the preparation of the Ghost River State of the Watershed (SOW) report. GWAS developed Terms of Reference for the project and has initiated the formation of a steering committee comprised of stakeholders, industry representatives, local residents, local and provincial government, and NGOs amongst others. For 2015 GWAS will hire ALCES Landscape & Land-use Ltd. to compile and write the SOW with the help of the knowledgeable individuals on the steering committee. The SOW will assess the state of the watershed within a comprehensive report, and identify important issues and plan how to address them within a watershed management plan.

Highway Two Conservation
Highway Two Conservation recognizes that diffuse pollution, sedimentation and habitat degradation stemming from current cropping practices lowers water storage capability of surrounding land, lowers biodiversity of riparian areas and negatively impacts water quality. So their project will focus on working one-on-one with crop producers to protect, increase or create riparian buffer zones. They will also host workshops, create potential demonstrations sites, work with local youth during education days, complete an aerial survey, organize a river clean-up day along the Pembina River and organize weed pull days targeting ox-eye daisy, scentless chamomile and Himalayan Balsam.

Keepers of the Athabasca
The project builds on the momentum generated in year one of the Upper Athabasca Community Engagement for Watershed Health Project. In partnership with Living Lakes Canada, Keepers of the Athabasca’s project the Upper Athabasca Watershed Health Assessment will use the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN ) protocol to engage and train community volunteers in citizen science data collection. This knowledge will increase the understanding of watershed health and fills the gaps and data deficiencies, a valuable tool used to communicate watershed health to members of the public. The project will also engage with aboriginal and non-aboriginal community members in understanding watershed health to go beyond data collection. It will support the inclusion of water data and traditional ecological knowledge to direct policy and planning efforts, building a stewardship ethic among the community.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society (LCARF) aims to spread awareness of the importance of riparian health, increase knowledge of native grasses and improve water quality through the encouragement of beneficial management practices in the watershed. As a part of LCARF’s ongoing effort to measure water quality and establish Horse Creek’s status in comparison to the Alberta Surface Water Quality Guidelines, they will be performing their 4th year of monitoring. LCARF will hire Palliser Environmental to complete water quality monitoring and produce a report on the findings. They will also be hosting field days to increase knowledge about water, native and invasive vegetation.

Love the Lake
Love the Lake is a group of over 150 watershed residents who have made a commitment to protect the ecosystem of Pigeon Lake by resolving to follow best practices for watershed stewardship. Love the Lake is in the 6th year of eradicating Himalayan Balsam from the Pigeon Lake watershed. The Himalayan Balsam, which is classified as a prohibited noxious weed because of its aggressive tendencies to dominate a riparian area, has been effectively brought under control through this eradication program. Continuing efforts are required to complete the program in a few gardens and bush areas which have been identified and to do final sweeps of the shoreline to ensure the plant is completely removed. Love the Lake will also be following up with a 2014 pilot to remove accumulating biomass on the shoreline to an adjacent lawn, so it no longer a shoreline nuisance for residents or contributes to nutrient loading in the lake.

Nose Creek Watershed Partnership
The Nose Creek Watershed Partnership (NCWP) completed the Nose Creek Watershed Water Management Plan (WMP) in 2007. The WMP recommended a Long-Term Water Monitoring Strategy that was implemented for five years, from 2009 through 2013. The NCWP has shifted focus from water monitoring to the implementation of beneficial management practices (BMPs) to improve water quality. To implement BMPs that can effectively improve water quality, an accurate understanding of the sources of pollutants, specifically fecal coliform bacteria, is required. Before resources are directed to implementing BMPs that may reduce fecal coliform bacteria counts, the NCWP will seek to better understand sources within the watershed using microbial source tracking techniques.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Pigeon Lake Watershed Association is initiating a three year project around surface water quality and low impact development planning and implementation to engage, inform, incent and guide Pigeon Lake watershed residents and municipalities to reduce the external nutrients and contaminants entering the lake through water runoff. The project has three stages: the foundation where PLWA will work with low impact and living by water organizations to determine project strategies, methods and materials; the framework stage in which PLWA will engage through outreach, surveys and workshops then create demonstration sites, information and education materials, a phot0 bank and more; and the roll out stage which further outreach to the community will occur including incentives, inspiration, support, and friendly competitions to encourage changes and showcase creative actions.

Ridge Reservoir Working Group
The Ridge Reservoir Working Group (RRWG) is a new group and is working towards establishing itself as a community minded body. The intention is to perform projects which contribute to the bank stabilization of Ridge Reservoir, improvement and protection of water quality, and securing and enhancing wildlife habitat within the Ridge Reservoir Watershed. Initially RRWG will be assessing the land within the watershed to identify at risk areas and where and how improvements can be made through health inventories. Then the results of the assessment will determine next steps such as remote watering systems, fencing of riparian areas or tree planting. The group will have ongoing monitoring and reporting of project areas to identify successes on areas to be improved upon.

Society of Grasslands Naturalists
The Grasslands Naturalists and their educational group, the Medicine Hat Interpretive Program, are going to do a study of the 2015 river and riparian area within Medicine Hat. This will become a benchmark to keep track of the health of the river for years to come. Part of the project will be to develop photo points that can be re-visited on a regular basis to monitor changes to vegetation, erosion, and river health. Information gathered will be shared on a website featuring photography with dates to show changes. This data will also be used in public programs, special group and school programs, and displays. The goal is to create involved, knowledgeable, and caring citizens as the basis for a healthy, strong community living in a stable sustainable economy.

Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed
The vision for the Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed (SLLBWS) was created in partnership with Living Lakes Canada and the Keepers of the Athabasca. The SLLBWS is building its capacity by becoming a legal entity, creating a representative membership, increasing its profile in the community through outreach projects and using this membership and presence to begin implementing the recommendations set out in the 2009 Lac La Biche Watershed Management plan which contains a set of established, measurable goals for the stewardship of the watershed.

Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society
Weaselhead Glenmore Park Preservation Society (WGPPS) main objectives are to preserve/restore naturally functioning ecosystems within the Weaselhead Park, and to advance the education of the public in conservation and environmental protection. Their 2015 Invasive Plant Program will allow them to reduce the abundance of targeted invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and reduce biodiversity; prevent new species of invasive plants becoming established; increase understanding and awareness among the community of invasive plants, the problems they cause, and how to combat their spread; and offer opportunities for young individuals to gain experience in environmental field-work and stewardship.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
Wabamun Watershed Management Council’s (WWMC) vision of Lake Wabamun watershed is one of healthy ecosystem with a community that shares its collective responsibility to be the best stewards of that environment. To help achieve this vision, WWMC will be developing a new website. WWMC requires a website which is more user-friendly and effective as a tool to educate users about watershed stewardship. A more effective website will allow for an increase in awareness and understanding of local environmental issues and solutions, distribution of the activities of the WWMC among recreational users, businesses, decision makers and residents affecting the Wabamun watershed.

Wetland Grant Recipients

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
In partnership with the Hines Creek Museum, Clear Hills Watershed Initiative will be restoring access to wetlands located behind the main museum grounds. The wetlands will have walking trails which will be accessible for bird watching and informational field trips for schools and other interested groups. Part of the project will be constructing a raised boardwalk along part of the trail, which will allow wetland access without damage to the integrity of the wetland. The project will also include signs highlighting the benefits wetlands provide to the community.

Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council
Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area contains several kilometres of unmanaged all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails that traverse several wetland features in the riparian ecosystem of the North Saskatchewan River. The current layout and condition of these trails is resulting in severe vegetation loss, erosion, compaction and sedimentation of wetlands in this riparian area. Eagle Point–Blue Rapids Parks Council, through collaboration with landowners, recreation groups, municipal and provincial government, and industry will design an off-highway vehicle trail system better suited to the sensitive ecosystems in the area. In addition, an ecological restoration plan will be created to restore severely damaged areas in order of priority.

Society of Grasslands Naturalists
Society of Grasslands Naturalists will be upgrading and refining their wetland programming including incorporating material specific to south eastern Alberta and comparing local wetlands to different types of wetlands in other parts of Alberta; adapting or developing materials to assist in understanding the roles different organisms play within the ecosystem; providing more materials for different ages groups. They will also install a floating dock which will allow students to sample directly from the wetland. The floating dock will protect the shoreline, allow more student involvement, and create a “science lab in a park”.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association will provide approximately 100 grade 5 students from Cardston Elementary School with the opportunity to spend a day exploring wetlands and associated grassland habitat at Police Outpost Provincial Park. The field day will deliver a hands-on pond study, additional activities and supplemental class presentations before and after the event. In addition, this project will bring into focus riparian stewardship on local rangelands – instead of focusing simply on exploring wetlands in parks and protected areas it will also provide an opportunity for students to learn about how wetland values are being conserved by neighboring ranchers.

Click here to learn more about the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program.

Special Fall 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant Announced

Posted September 16, 2015 by LSC

The Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program provides funding to support collaborative, community-based stewardship efforts consistent with the principles, goals and outcomes of Alberta’s Water for Life strategy.

New for Fall 2015

The WSG program is pleased to announce that on October 1, 2015 we will begin accepting applications for a special Fall 2015 round of WSG grants. Through this special Fall 2015 grant, grants up to $15,000 will be issued to eligible groups on a per-project basis.
Applications for the Fall 2015 grant will be accepted from October 1 to October 31, 2015.

Download the WSG – Fall 2015 Grant Application Process and Application Form documents here >>

For more information, contact the Stewardship Program Coordinator by email or phone 1–877–727–5276 extension 222.

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