Owl River Riparian Restoration and Enhancement Project: Monitoring Report II
Stefanie Fenson, Tyler Johns and Brittany Schmidt
From 2006 to 2011, the Government of Alberta stocked Lac La Biche with more than 200 million fry and fingerlings in an attempt to restore the walleye population in the lake. The Owl River is identified as the primary spawning habitat for Lac La Biche walleye; however, agricultural activities in the area have reduced riparian vegetation, which could potentially increase nutrient and sediment loading of the watercourse. The resulting reduction in water quality could directly impact walleye spawning habitat, thereby potentially limiting the success of the Lac La Biche walleye restoration program.
In 2011/12, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) began a long-term project to protect and restore riparian habitat along the Owl River. We collected baseline data on riparian health, water quality, aquatic habitat, and the distribution of walleye spawning habitat. In 2014 and 2017, we reassessed these characteristics as part of a three-year interval monitoring protocol. Our study area extended 40 km upstream from the mouth of the Owl River at Lac La Biche and included a portion of the Piche River. We also conducted surveys in the spring of 2012 and 2014 to determine abundance of the walleye spawning run from the lake into the Owl River.