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WSG Funding Cancelled by Government

Posted June 29, 2016 by LSC

Land Stewardship Centre (LSC) was recently informed by the Government of Alberta, Environment and Parks that our application for $250,000 in Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) funding for 2016 was not approved. As a result, no funding will be available for the WSG program this year.

LSC was notified that the decision not to fund the WSG program was based on budget restrictions. This is unfortunate and extremely disappointing for the Watershed Stewardship Groups who depend on this grant as a means to design and deliver community-based programming that directly supports the Alberta Government’s Water for Life Strategy. As this was an annual grant program, at this time, LSC is uncertain what this decision will mean for the long-term future of the Watershed Stewardship Grant program.

LSC has implemented the WSG program in Alberta since 2006. In that time, more than $1.8 million dollars have been allocated to 127 community-based Watershed Stewardship Groups across Alberta, with an additional $5.7 million leveraged through partnerships. Throughout the history of the program, Watershed Stewardship Groups have worked collaboratively with local municipalities, local land owners and land managers, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and other conservation organizations to design and deliver in excess of 300 projects. These groups and their projects have all contributed to bringing the Water for Life Strategy goals to life, and making healthy aquatic ecosystems, reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy, and safe, secure drinking water a reality.

Over the years, the Watershed Stewardship Grant program has clearly enabled Watershed Stewardship Groups to bring about positive action and deliver results in their communities across Alberta. We have been continually amazed at the high level of commitment and professionalism that these stewardship groups have displayed as they developed and carried out projects that advance the goals of Water for Life and support the Alberta Government’s recently announced Climate Leadership Plan.

LSC is disappointed that the Government of Alberta has elected to no longer support these community stewardship efforts. However, LSC is committed to continuing to support Watershed Stewardship Groups through our own programming which includes the Alberta Stewardship Network, Resources for Stewards, Grassroots News and the online Stewardship Directory. Looking ahead, LSC will begin to explore ways to access new sources of funding that could be used to support the valuable work of the Watershed Stewardship Groups. We will also continue to work with the Government of Alberta, advocating for the reinstatement of provincial financial support for grassroots stewardship groups and the important work they are doing in communities across the province to the benefit of all Albertans.

For more information regarding the Government of Alberta’s decision you are invited to contact:

Mr. Robert Stokes, Executive Director
Strategic Relationships and Engagement
Environment and Parks
9th fl Petroleum Plaza ST
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone: 780 422–2690
Fax: 780 421–0028

Meet the Fall 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted April 10, 2016 by LSC

Grass roots watershed stewardship groups are making a difference in communities across Alberta. Read on to learn how these groups will be putting their Fall 2015 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in their community-based stewardship projects.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
In previous years the Friends of Fish Creek embarked on projects to engage park users and nearby residents as volunteers in hands-on stewardship activities to restore damaged streambank areas. This year’s project will help support the Friends’ efforts to foster the long-term sustainability of each project, such as monitoring and supporting the viability of plantings. Trained volunteers will be monitoring the restoration sites recoding data about the state of the planted vegetation, and the effectiveness of fencing. The group plans to track achievements through use of annual photographs showing improvement in riparian health due to native vegetation growth.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
In Spring 2015 the Government of Alberta’s Southern Alberta Fisheries Habitat Enhancement and Sustainability Program (FISHES) program identified Waiparous Creek, a major tributary to the Ghost and home to Westslope Cutthroat Trout, as a priority area for restoration of fish habitat. Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) will be working with the Backcountry Trails Flood Rehabilitation Team and the FISHES program to successfully improve fish habitat post flood 2013. The groups will work to restore at least one site in the Ghost Watershed with bioengineering techniques, and then create a digital story to share their efforts more broadly.

Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society
Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society will be working with the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society, Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), Battle River Watershed Alliance and Flagstaff County to increase awareness of beneficial management practices, plant riparian buffers and host a series of workshops. The groups will be planting a mixture of trees and shrubs, approximately 20,000 seedlings, on 20 acres of private property adjacent to watercourses. They will also work with landowners of the planting properties, as well as others in the county, to complete site assessments and provide suggestions for improved management practices. A series of workshops will be held to provide information to landowners on the implications of degraded land adjacent to Iron Creek from a water quantity and quality perspective, and their ability to influence biodiversity and primary productivity.

Mayatan Lake Management Association
Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA) will focus on implementation of recommendations from the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) completed in the fall of 2015. MLMA will host educational workshops, create a package of education materials for lake residents, work with the municipality to integrate IWMP recommendations into land use legislation, hold a Family Lake Day, install educational signage at the Mayatan Boat launch, install equipment to measure and complete a report on changing water levels of Mayatan Lake, and consult with landowners to pursue projects to improve damaged riparian areas around the lake. Everything MLMA will undertake is to preserve and protect Mayatan Lake and the surrounding area for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association will be building on the momentum of their Wetland Field Day. The Wetland Field Day provides approximately 100 grade 5 students with the opportunity to spend a day exploring wetlands and associated grassland habitat at Police Outpost Provincial Park. The field day delivers a hands-on pond study and additional activities compatible with the Alberta Grade 5 science curriculum. It will be supplemented with class presentations before and after the event. In addition, this project will bring into focus riparian stewardship on local rangelands – instead of focussing 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.

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