Connectivity Project

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 2022, we completed the fifth year of the project and the fourth year of extensive data collection around four St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) reservoirs: Bullshead Reservoir, West Medicine Hat Reservoir, Stormham Reservoir, Weston Lake Reservoir, and one drainage called Middle Coulee Drainage. We completed 31 lotic riparian health assessments, nine lentic riparian health assessments, 12 visual riparian assessment, eight range health assessments, and 25 visual range assessments for use in the fourth Habitat Conservation Strategy for SMRID. We made 166 incidental wildlife observations across the four reservoirs, 17% 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. Baseline assessments also identify 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 2022. Working with the partners of the project, approximately 11 km of exclusion fencing on four reservoirs were installed, exposed areas were reseeded, and willows and shrubs were planted in specified areas for the benefit of wildlife and water quality. We also implemented integrated protection plans for sensitive and at-risk wildlife species in select areas. The recommendations from the report are developed to assist with planning, and aid in the design of enhancements needed to improve water quality and wildlife habitat, while cohesively increasing the resilience of the irrigation district operations and grassland ecosystems.


Alberta Fish & Game Association (Zone 1), Canadian Agricultural Partnership, Government of Alberta, Lethbridge Fish & Game Association, Pheasants Forever, Southern Alberta Bowhunters Association, St. Mary River Irrigation District, Taber Irrigation District

Annual Summaries

Title Year Category
Connectivity Project 2017-2018 2
Connectivity Project 2018-2019 2
Connectivity Project 2019-2020 2
Connectivity Project 2020-2021 2
Connectivity Project 2021-2022 2
Connectivity Project 2022-2023 2