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Meet the 2012 Watershed Stewardship Grant Recipients

Posted July 24, 2012 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 2012 Watershed Stewardship Grant to work in a variety of community-based stewardship projects.

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

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area
The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area plans to restore the North and South arms of the wetlands forming the headwaters of Pine Creek through the reintroduction of beavers. The beavers will be relocated to areas where they will provide natural engineering to improve water quantity and quality. To document the results of the reintroduction the group plans to institute a monitoring program with the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies once the beavers are introduced.

Crowsnest Conservation Society
Crowsnest Conservation Society is in the second year of a riparian restoration project, with a focus on weed control and riparian diversity. The funding will be used to communicate and promote four weed pulling events, provide support to maintaining and updating the plant monitoring database, conduct data analysis and complete a website redesign. The new website will contain information related to watershed issues, provide updates to the community on the status of this project, and provide locations on the river that the community can observe work being done by riparian restoration technicians.

Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition
The Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) will focus its efforts on specific areas of concern by removing invasive plants species and garbage left behind by users of the Castle. The group will monitor the location of invasive species and then submit the information to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development for inventory mapping. CCWC also plans to reclaim illegal off-road vehicle trails, by mounting signs of the closed off areas, and through the addition of signs to areas where extensive damage is occurring.

Clear Hills Watershed Initiative
The Clear Hills Watershed Initiative is continuing their previous water quality monitoring work in an effort to add to their current database. The group plans to increase awareness of how the water resources in the area need to be properly managed by incorporating beneficial management practices (BMPs) in their work and promoting them in to community members. All of these efforts will help maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and establish the group’s value within the local community.

Clear Water Landcare
Ten years ago, Clear Water Landcare, with the help of Cows and Fish, performed 22 riparian health inventories. Several of the landowners originally involved have agreed to a re-inventory of seven of the sites. Re-assessments will include an assessment of current riparian conditions, a comparison to the previous assessment, and identification of the importance of beneficial practices. This may also result in the development of a suite of projects that will become demonstration tools to build awareness of and enhance riparian areas.

Drywood Yarrow Conservation Partnership
Drywood Yarrow Conservation Partnership (DYCP) is working with Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) to conduct a field tour for local landowners, community members and other partner organizations. The field tours will visit some of the on-the-ground projects that DYCP has completed in the past with TUC, such as riparian fencing and off-stream stock watering systems. One day will be specifically for local producers to encourage their understanding of beneficial management practices (BMPs) that are currently being applied on the landscape. The second field tour will be held for local junior high students so they can learn about the importance and functionality of riparian areas.

Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Over the past few years, the demands placed on the McLean Creek Forest Land Use Zone have increased significantly; from logging and off-highway vehicle use, to cattle grazing. The Elbow River Watershed Partnership will be monitoring the water quality in McLean Creek. The data collected will help identify any trends in water quality changes. The results will be used to encourage the adoption of watershed-friendly practices and facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders as to the connection between land-use and water quality. Future monitoring and data collection will be done to see if the changes in practices are yielding positive results.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society
The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society will be monitoring Fish Creek from the head waters in McLean Creek Recreation Area to the confluence with Bow River in Fish Creek Provincial Park. The group will also be conducting an invertebrate survey and collecting flow level data. They will also implementing phase two of their watershed public awareness campaign, which includes holding their annual Creekfest, delivering presentations, creating a new fact sheet and setting up displays at community events, among other activities. The group will be reaching out to both urban and rural communities, including Bragg Creek, Priddis, and Calgary, which are located along the length of Fish Creek.

Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society
The Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society will hire a hydrogeological consultant to identify groundwater resources in the Gull Lake Watershed and create an aquifer map. All aquifers will be identified as either hydraulically connected to the lake or not. The group ultimately wants to be able to use the information when working with municipalities to put development controls on water wells being drilled in the area, such as recommending that wells be drilled primarily in aquifers not connected to the lake, and where necessary, appropriate drilling depths be determined so that aquifers are not depleted if wells are connected to the lake.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
At a visioning session organized by the MD of Bighorn in 2011, the community expressed grave concerns about increasing land-use in the Ghost Watershed. However, people do not have the expertise and knowledge to advise what would be beneficial land-use management practices. Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) will hire a consultant from Silva Ecosystem Consultants to review the proposed land-uses in the Ghost Watershed. The consultant will develop a professional evaluation based on the area’s ecology, and provide the group with a report and recommendations for various the land-uses that can maintain the ecosystems integrity. With this report, GWAS will be able to provide valuable input into the land-use planning process in their municipality.

Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society
Little Creeks and Rough Fescue Appreciation Society will hire Palliser Environmental to sample water at three sites along Horse Creek from April to October. There is a hanging culvert by the mouth of Horse Creek, where a population of small brook and brown trout were found. The group also intends to test sedimentation, electro-fish and develop further baseline data which will determine if the culvert is a deterrent to trout passage upstream. The group will use any findings to plan future projects to improve riparian health and aquatic habitats.

Moose Lake Watershed Society
The Moose Lake Watershed Society (MLWS) will hold their Walking with the Moose day long fieldtrip for Grade 5 students, educating the students in a hands-on, interactive manner raising awareness about the environment and solidifying the knowledge gained at school. MLWS has invited six local schools to participate in the fieldtrip. MLWS is also introducing a new program, Operation Alien Invaders, which is a day for people to learn more about and experience working with and around invasive plants. Local community members will come out to learn about proper use of ornamentals, such as the Himalayan Balsam and how to keep riparian areas in a more natural state.

Milk River Ranchers Group
The Milk River Ranchers Group will be placing invasive plant species signs within day use areas along the Milk River on natural lands including grazing reserves, grazing co-ops, and grazing leases. Signs will focus on the Common Burdock, Babysbreath, Chamomile, and Nodding Thistle which are through the Milk River Watershed. The signs allow the group to create a learning opportunity for their target land users: farmer, ranchers, recreational users such as hunters and hikers. Volunteers will install the signs in designated areas and the local community will be informed of the signs locations. The group will monitor feedback from local residents in an effort to track if any weeds are noticed and removed following installation of the signs.

Nose Creek Watershed Partnership
The Nose Creek Watershed Partnership is working towards implementing the recommendations from the Nose creek Watershed Water Management Plan. This includes hiring a consultant to complete the monitoring and write a report summarizing the three years of data. They will also work towards with local residents, and municipal officials and staff to raise the profile and awareness of NCWP and the work that they perform in the community. In addition, the group will host on-the-ground stewardship activities such as tree plantings and clean-up events.

Pine Lake Restoration Society
The Pine Lake Restoration Society (PLRS) has been active and performing water quality testing since 1998, when they had a hypolimnetic withdrawal system installed. Testing in 2007 indicated that there was an alarming increase in pollutants and nutrients entering the lake from seven feeder creeks. PLRS continues to perform more water quality monitoring to determine the sources of pollutants and nutrients, and then recommend remedial activities that can be performed to increase water quality. The group will also increase awareness among lake and surrounding community residents of potential threats to water quality.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association
Pigeon Lake is undergoing significant development and is becoming increasingly eutrophic as a result of nutrient loading. The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association has established stewardship program which includes: environmental workshops, home site assessments, information sessions, shoreline clean ups, studies of best practice, development and distribution of publications to watershed residents, and their Love the Lake program. This year the group will be focusing on preforming 40 home-site assessments, removing of Himalayan Balsam, and setting up information booths at various events.

Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA) is hosting a three-day, digital storytelling workshop for approximately 10 attendees including WBRA board members, local ranchers, business owners and community stewards. Once the workshop has been completed the digital stories will be shared in screenings, on the WBRA website and in a local visitor center display. The workshop will consist of a team-building experience where individuals develop and share their ideas of what stewarding the Waterton Biosphere Reserve means to them. The digital stories are intended to renew and strengthen the stewardship ethic, encouraging the community to work together to maintain a healthy watershed and create a sustainable future.

West-Central Forage Association
West Central Forage Association is working with Yellowhead County and Alberta Lake Management Association (ALMS) to address environmental concerns regarding water quality and riparian areas around Chip Lake and establish a Chip Lake watershed stewardship group. Working with ALMS through the Lakewatch Program, the group will monitor the water quality of Chip Lake. The group will also perform extension activities such as riparian health assessments. All of these extension and monitoring activities will help to establish a stewardship group that is armed with well-developed baseline data.

Willow Creek Watershed Group
Willow Creek Watershed Group will be working with Cows and Fish to perform seven riparian health assessments on sites that have been selected by Agriculture Fieldmen from the local rural municipalities. The assessments, conducted on sites which have undergone land management changes, will enable the group to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these changes. The project will assist landowners and managers to improve their management skill and knowledge in range and riparian health, as well as improve the riparian health, fish habitat and water quality.

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society
The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society and its volunteers will focus on reducing the abundance of invasive plants that interfere with ecosystem function and biodiversity, preventing new invasive plants from becoming established, increasing awareness of invasive plants, and sharing lessons learned following the recovery of native vegetation after weeding. Controlling invasive plant species in the park helps prevent flooding by increasing the ability of floodplains and wetlands to function properly in high and low flow events, reduce sedimentation and erosion and maintain healthy riparian areas.

Wabamun Watershed Management Council
The Wabamun Watershed Management Council is hiring a consultant to produce a State of the Watershed for Wabamun Lake. A State of the Watershed report is the first step in being able to complete a Watershed Management Plan for the Lake Wabamun watershed. The group feels that relative to other lakes in Alberta, Lake Wabamun is quite healthy, but if steps are not taken to limit the nutrients and pollutants entering the lake and watershed water quality could decline. The report will enable the group to engage the community and create awareness to secure a healthy future for the watershed.

Zone 6 Regional Council of the Metis Association of Alberta
The Zone 6 Regional Council of the Metis Association of Alberta is hosting a watershed science for youth project in the Grande Prairie area. The group will take students on five separate day trips where they will learn about riparian areas, water and ecology, go on boat trips along Bear River, visit a sewage plant, visit Grande Prairie city hall to meet municipal officials, perform water testing on streams in the region and compile reports of their observations. The group hopes that local Metis youth will become knowledgeable and interested in waters quality and quantity issues and get involved in local water-related projects. The group received additional grant funding to replicate this same project in the Peace River area.

The ABCs of TDCs

Posted June 28, 2012 by LSC

So what’s a TDC anyhow?

Traditionally, municipalities have relied on zoning to achieve land use objectives. Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) programs support zoning by allowing landowners in areas designated for conservation to sell credits to developers in areas targeted for growth.

Landowners receive the financial benefit of development for their conserved land while growth is accommodated in target areas. Since TDC programs are completely voluntary, their success depends on ensuring that the price for credits is high enough to make it worthwhile for landowners in the sending areas to forgo development while at the same time ensuring that developers are willing to pay for development.

Putting TDCs to work

Along with land-use zoning, a TDC program encourages development in desirable areas while formally protecting land important for agriculture or environmental services. Landowners in areas designated for conservation sell credits to developers in areas targeted for growth. Brian’s presentation describes TDC principles, the five main steps of TDC approach and anticipated outcomes.

Recently, at the 49th Alberta Soil Science Workshop, Brian Ilnicki, Executive Director of Land Stewardship Centre, provided an overview of the work the Beaver Hills Initiative and its partners are doing east of Edmonton to assess and evaluate the potential for TDCs to be used in land use and conservation planning.

Watch Brian’s presentation on YouTube >>

Learn more about the Beaver Hills Initiative and their TDC project >>

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