The Connectivity Project addresses habitat fragmentation in southern Alberta by working collaboratively with irrigation districts, municipalities, conservation groups, recreationists, and agricultural producers to improve water quality and re-establish and enhance wildlife habitat. Doing so will benefit agriculture, hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. In 2021, we completed the fourth year of the project and the third year of extensive data collection around five St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) reservoirs: Forty Mile Reservoir, Klaudt Reservoir, Sauder Reservoir, Seven Persons Reservoir, and Yellow Lake Reservoir. We completed eight lotic riparian health assessments, 71 lentic riparian health assessments, one visual riparian assessment, 34 range health assessments, two tame pasture health assessments, and 12 visual range assessments for use in the third Habitat Conservation Strategy for SMRID. We made 692 incidental wildlife observations across the five reservoirs, 18% of which were species at risk. These data provide a baseline assessment of the plant communities around each reservoir and the wildlife species utilizing them. It also identifies priority sites where habitat enhancements and/or grazing management recommendations will improve ecosystem service provision (carbon sequestration, water filtration and nutrient retention, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity). The hydrogeomorphology of these reservoirs pose ecological and physical challenges to these ecosystem service provisions, developing unique data sets and vegetation communities in comparison to natural systems. To help mitigate these challenges, adaptive management plans to enhance and protect these ecosystems were developed and implemented in 2021. Working with the partners of the project, approximately 10 km of exclusion fencing on three reservoirs were installed, and upland game bird and wildlife habitat was planted along two reservoirs and a SMRID-owned parcel. We also implemented integrated protection plans for sensitive and at-risk wildlife species in select areas. The recommendations from the report are developed to provide data, design, and implement enhancements to improve water quality and wildlife habitat, while cohesively increasing the resilience of the irrigation district operations and grassland ecosystems.
Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Fish & Game Association (Zone 1), Canadian Agricultural Partnership, Lethbridge Fish and Game Association, Pheasants Forever, Southern Alberta Bowhunters Association, St. Mary River Irrigation District, Taber Irrigation District
|Swan River Arctic Grayling Stock and Watershed Connectivity Assessment||2014-2015||1|
|Swan River Arctic Grayling: A Stock and Watershed Connectivity Survey||2015-2016||1|