July 17, 2017By

SEAWA is pleased to announce the start of a new two-year project, “Riparian Areas Assessment and Restoration in the Seven Persons Creek Watershed.” This project has been funded by the Government of Alberta under the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP). The WRRP promotes resilience to future floods and droughts throughout the province by improving the natural capacity of wetlands and riparian areas to attenuate these extreme events. The funding received through the WRRP will be used to assess the condition of riparian areas in the Seven Persons Creek Watershed, and to provide financial support, on a 50:50 cost-share basis, to volunteer landowners and land managers who wish to restore or prevent degradation of riparian areas.

The first phase of this collaborative project will entail the identification of locations that would most benefit from restoration. Identification will be done through the professional collection and analysis of aerial imagery. SEAWA will then work with project partners to prepare restoration plans this year, for implementation next year. Before restoration, prospective areas will be assessed by Cows and Fish (the Alberta Habitat Management Society).

Riparian refers to areas adjacent to streams and lakes where there is a strong interaction between land and water. These productive ecosystems are an important interface between terrestrial and aquatic environments and have distinct plant communities. Riparian areas provide ecological, economic, and social benefits. Cottonwood trees, willows, sedges, and rushes rely on the abundant moisture found adjacent to water bodies and streams, and these plant communities provide food and habitat for migratory and resident birds, mammals, amphibians and semi-aquatic organisms. Riparian vegetation can reduce damage from erosion, reduce sediment transport during high flows, and regulate water temperature for the benefit of fish and other aquatic organisms. Healthy riparian areas can also filter excess nutrients from upland areas, store water during high flows, release water during low flows, and sustain vegetation and wildlife habitat during periods of drought. In a watershed such as ours, in a semi-arid climate, riparian areas also provide naturally diverse green spaces for the enjoyment of everyone.

Degradation of riparian areas can be due to natural causes, and in time, they usually recover on their own. Human-caused degradation, however, often requires remedial work, and the prevention of degradation requires the active management of land use and users.

Landowners and land managers who are interested in implementing riparian restoration are encouraged to contact SEAWA to discuss this project. The project will be formally launched this fall, and the funding application process and details on eligible projects and partnership agreements will be presented at that time.

For more information, please contact Patrick Jablkowski, Watershed Coordinator at patrick.jablkowski@seawa.ca or phone: 403-580-8980.