Healthy riparian areas and wetlands provide an abundance of benefits to the local ecosystem and to land owners. The LSWC strives to engage with landowners and engage them in projects that will have a positive effect on watershed health, specifically riparian areas, wetlands and sensitive ecological areas.
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. The LSWC has been approved for a 2020-21 WRRP grant that will enable us to continue delivering projects in collaboration with our partners.
Big Lakes County Agricultural Services Board provides the LSWC with partnership dollars annually that add to our overall budget and the LSWC work closely with the Ag department staff to plan and deliver projects.
The LSWC works with many groups and organizations to provide resources and expertise that are required for successful projects. Our project partners include: Big Lakes County, Cows and Fish, and Peace Country Beef and Forage Association.
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. Going forward Big Lakes County will be delivering the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Program. The LSWC will be supporting this program as a member of the Technical Advisory Team and providing funding to projects that meet watershed objectives.
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.
In addition to doing great on the ground work we also strive to share this work. The LSWC and partners host education workshops such as living with beavers, or farm and dugout water management. We also work with our project partners to plan field tour to check out some of the completed projects and the landowners get to share their stories and successes with others.
2016-19 Watershed Resiliency Journal
This document summarizes the project work and overall investment in the projects and work we have completed since 2016.