The ecological integrity and health of Alberta’s rivers, streams, and surrounding landscapes are often negatively affected by ongoing human development. Riparian areas are complex ecosystems that provide important ecological functions and are critical to maintaining watershed health. Proper management of this sensitive habitat is essential to maintain water quality and habitat integrity. The primary goal of Alberta Conservation Association’s (ACA) Riparian Conservation Program is to protect and restore riparian habitat in priority watersheds through on-the-ground habitat restoration projects by engaging landowners, the public, and other stakeholders through community outreach and education activities. Our collaborative partnerships with landowners, industry, government, watershed groups, and other stakeholders are an integral component of project delivery. In 2022/23, we focused conservation efforts in the following priority watersheds: Beaverlodge, Heart, Raven, Owl, North Raven, Redwillow, and St. Mary rivers; and Beaver, Clear, Dogpound, Todd, Sharples, and Five Mile creeks (including their associated tributaries). We delivered 20 enhancement projects using a variety of management tools, including implementing agreements to conserve 151.2 acres (61.2 ha) of riparian and associated upland habitat: six off-site watering systems, seven landowner agreements, three bioengineering projects; and installing 3.2 km of wildlife-friendly fencing and removing 0.3 km of old fence to protect important riparian habitat as part of new and existing agreements. We also monitored water quality and riparian health on two systems to help evaluate the effectiveness of riparian enhancements, supported landowners with riparian enhancement activities, and communicated our Riparian Conservation Program to various communities. Our efforts have contributed to improvements in riparian habitat health and have positively influenced the stewardship approach of many landowners and leaseholders.
Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, Alberta Fish & Game Association, Cenovus Energy Inc., County of Grande Prairie, Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, Critical Mass, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Foothills Forage and Grazing Association, Give Back Contracting Ltd., Grey Wooded Forage Association, HUVAN Construction, landowners, Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Milk River Watershed Council Canada, Mountain View County, Northern Sunrise County, Oldman Watershed Council, Ovintiv Inc., Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, Sinopec Canada, Syncrude Canada Ltd., TC Energy Corporation, Tree Time Services Inc., Trout Unlimited Canada, West County Watershed Society, Wood PLC