Old­man Water­shed Coun­cil busy over sum­mer

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Southwest Alberta - BY HEATHER CAMERON

The Old­man Water­shed Coun­cil (OWC) spent much time trav­el­ling the water­shed and speak­ing to peo­ple of all ages about the health of the water­shed and how ev­ery­one has a big role to play.

“Our pri­mary fo­cus is on im­prov­ing the health of the head­wa­ters through our En­gag­ing Re­cre­ation­ists,” Shan­non Frank, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Old­man Water­shed Coun­cil said. “The moun­tains are the source of 90% of our wa­ter and their health has de­clined over the years and so we are work­ing with many part­ners to en­cour­age re­cre­ation­ists to steer clear of wa­ter and re­store dam­aged stream banks.”

Frank says that the OWC’s sec­ond big­gest project is the Water­shed Legacy Pro­gram, where fund­ing is pro­vided to landown­ers for restora­tion projects like ri­par­ian fenc­ing, bridges, off stream wa­ter­ing troughs to keep cat­tle away from wa­ter. This year, the Coun­cil pro­vided fund­ing to 5 great projects, which were:

Mu­nic­i­pal District of Pincher Creek Trans­bound­ary Weeds, Wa­ter and Stew­ard­ship Tour that goes from Water­ton Park to Cas­tle Parks, into the Crowsnest Pass and the East Koote­nays.

Mu­nic­i­pal District of Wil­low Creek - Con­tin­ued sup­port of Bio-con­trol Agent projects to con­trol in­va­sive weed species along the Old­man river and var­i­ous trib­u­taries.

Cody Spencer, Sweet­grass Bi­son - Old­man River Ri­par­ian Fenc­ing & Restora­tion – Phase 1 along the lower Old­man river.

Pincher Creek Water­shed Group - 16th An­nual Blue­weed Blitz along Pincher creek and its trib­u­taries.

Al­lan and Bev Gar­butt 1.5km of ri­par­ian fenc­ing along the Old­man River

“One of our other goals was to talk to at least 1000 peo­ple and we achieved that goal,” Frank said. “An­other was to as­sist our part­ners with their restora­tion ef­forts and we achieved that as well by as­sist­ing with weed pulls, plant­ing seedlings, and deck­ing bridges.”

The OWC’s two sum­mer Out­reach As­sis­tants, who are stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Leth­bridge, also had face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions with over 1000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing many kids, and played in­ter­ac­tive games to high­light the im­por­tance of wa­ter qual­ity, pre­vent­ing in­va­sive species, and pro­tect­ing na­tive fish.

“There are al­ways lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties for vol­un­teers to get in­volved,” Frank said. “Right now, we are seek­ing Car­ing for Our Water­sheds Am­bas­sadors to present to stu­dents in grades 7-12 about the water­shed and en­cour­age them to par­tic­i­pate in a youth con­test. Stu­dents de­velop a re­al­is­tic project pro­posal to an­swer the ques­tion "what can I do to im­prove my water­shed?" and a panel of judges de­ter­mines the win­ners. Nutrien spon­sors this pro­gram and of­fers cash prizes for the stu­dents and class­rooms.”

Frank says that the OWC also helped many of their part­ners pull thou­sands of weeds and plant hun­dreds of seedlings and wil­lows to re­store dam­aged stream­banks. The Coun­cil, Frank says, con­sid­ers watch­ing the trees and shrubs grow back very re­ward­ing be­cause they know they are fil­ter­ing wa­ter, hold­ing back sed­i­ment, and pro­vid­ing habi­tat for fish and wildlife.

“OWC is a char­ity that can only do its work with sup­port from our com­mu­nity,” Frank said. “We are proud to work with peo­ple from all sec­tors and wel­come new mem­bers, vol­un­teers and donors to get in­volved. It is our wa­ter at stake and we de­cide how it's man­aged so be­ing in­volved is crit­i­cal.”

The Old­man Water­shed Coun­cil, ac­cord­ing to Frank, is cur­rently plan­ning the ac­tiv­i­ties for fall and win­ter, crunch­ing the data from this past year/sum­mer and us­ing that data to im­prove for next year. This win­ter, the Coun­cil will be cre­at­ing some new videos in part­ner­ship with Leth­bridge County and de­vel­op­ing a book to share the his­tory of the water­shed. Win­ter is also when a lot of fundrais­ing and re­port­ing back to fund sources hap­pens.

“OWC is proud to re­ceive sup­port from many donors in­clud­ing in­di­vid­u­als, lo­cal busi­nesses and farms, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, ir­ri­ga­tion dis­tricts, Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment and Parks, En­vi­ron­ment Canada, Al­berta Ecotrust Foun­da­tion, Al­berta Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion and many more,” Frank said. “As a regis­tered char­ity, we rely on do­na­tions to do our work.”

Con­trib­uted file photo

There were a lot of dif­fer­ent projects worked on this sum­mer by the hard­work­ing staff of the Old­man Water­shed Coun­cil.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.