The LSWC seeks to educate and inform people in our watershed about the importance of riparian areas and wetlands and work with them to implement best management practices that will enhance or protect these sensitive areas in our watershed.
What is a riparian area?
Riparian areas are the lands adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands, where the vegetation and soils are strongly influenced by the presence of water. Although they make up only a small fraction of the land, they are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types and have been the focus of conflicts between resource users.Riparian areas are formed as the result of water, soil and vegetation interacting with one another.
Vegetation in the riparian area is different from that of uplands:
- Riparian areas stay greener longer and produce more forage than uplands, partly due to soils and mostly due to an elevated water table. The type and abundance of vegetation is a tip-off to identifying riparian areas. Vegetation is different and it attracts livestock, wildlife and humans.
- Riparian areas are productive and can be reliable producers of forage, shelter, fish, wildlife and water. These areas are a buffer, an insurance policy especially useful to have when drought or flood occurs. They are part of a healthy, functioning landscape and form part of an extensive drainage basin within every watershed.
Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program
in 2015 and 2016 the LSWC was the recipient of provincial WRRP grants that allowed us to initiate on the ground restoration work with landowners with riparian area management challenges.
Pictured to the left: Honorable Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips and our local MLA Danielle Larivee present the LSWC with our 2016 WRRP Grant check. In Attendance for the LSWC are Executive director Meghan Payne and Board Members: Brad Pearson, Brian Rosche, Tony MdWhannel, and Jule Asterisk.
Riparian Projects and Partners
The LSWC works with many groups and organizations to provide resources and expertise that are required for successful projects. Our project partners include: Peace Country Beef and Forage Association, Big Lakes County, Cows and Fish, and the High Prairie Riparian Action team.
PCBFA work extensively with landowners and cattle producers in the area. Their staff are knowledgeable about beef and forage production, pasture management and can help with those aspects of a project.
Cows and Fish are the riparian experts. They will visit each project site prior to any work being done to complete a riparian health assessment. A pre-project assessment lets us know our starting point from which we will measure our successes. Landowners and partners receive the assessment, they are not made public.
Big Lakes County Agricultural Service Board has provided financial support to the LSWC that supports riparian stewardship and extension and the county has been generous in providing in kind support if it is requested. Members of the Ag. Service Board are currently engaged in projects with the LSWC.
The High Prairie Riparian Action Team is a group of agencies who work to support health riparian areas int he Lesser Slave watershed. They have provided fencing materials for two of our projects.
In 2016 the PCBFA and LSWC partners to host a watering systems field tour. We took a group of 25 producers to two of our projects sites along with watering systems expert Marvin Jackson of Sundog Solar who provided lots of technical information and answered lots of questions.
Pictured to the right is Marvin Jackson, with sundog solar. He and several producers are standing on the edge of a large pond that our producer would like to use as a water source for his pasture about 600m away. The area around the pond is boggy and they do not want cattle near the area. Marvin recommended a solar pumping system with an above ground water line that moves water to a trough at the pasture.
At this site the participants were able to check out the LSWC's solar and wind powered watering system on demo with one of our producers. They system is set up upland of an intermittant creek that is the only water source for this pasture. The Producers would like to keep the cows out of the creek