Executive Director's Message

This year has seen the completion and release of some significant projects here at Miistakis. With all the research that Miistakis undertakes our focus is on getting information out there - into the hands of people so they can use it in support of conservation. If you think the work you see here in our annual report can support the work that you are doing, the work your colleagues are doing, the work government is/could be doing, please share our reports and websites. If you have any questions, contact us. We’d be happy to talk about what we have been working on over the past year.

At a time when governments are (finally!) focused on climate change and committed to actively addressing the challenges we are facing as a result of a warming climate, the Miistakis Institute has focused our efforts on how to support municipalities adapt to the impacts of climate change. AdaptAction (adaptaction.ca) was released in September. We are now working to increase the applicability this tool. Check it out.

Cattle and wildlife share the landscape in Alberta. This coexistence is not without costs. We released a report that examines the impact of wildlife to beef producers in Alberta. This report highlights the issues faced by producers when sharing the landscape with wildlife including economic losses, livestock safety concerns and time resources to manage wildlife impacts. This report will be used to start the dialogue on improving coexistence between wildlife and producers.

We also released a report that examines beaver reintroduction in various jurisdictions across the United States. We undertook this work as part of our partnership Leave it to Beavers initiative that is focused on beaver management and beaver reintroduction to enhance resiliency and health of our watershed. Many other parts of the world are recognizing the role that beavers can play in helping us store, move and filter water and we are working to enhance the role that beavers can play in Alberta.

Keep reading…there's more!


Danah Duke
Executive Director


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Research Areas

Miistakis focuses our efforts on the following research themes. In all cases, our projects take the same approach: identify the need, define the problem and solve the problem. Click on research area below to learn more.



TRANSPORTATION ECOLOGY

Transportation ecology is the study of the complex interaction between transportation infrastructure (such as roads and railways) and the environment. Transportation infrastructure affects air, water, and landscapes around the world. For example, collisions on roads and railways can kill wildlife, and those same roads and railways can interfere with wildlife movement.

PROJECTS:

Collision Count
Road Watch BC

Collision Count is a citizen science project developed to promote the safe passage of wildlife along Highway 3 in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Here’s how it works: trained volunteers walk along designated sections of Highway 3 and record their roadkill observations using a smartphone app. The data will be used to measure wildlife-vehicle collisions at three wildlife crossing sites, and to assess the success of strategies implemented to reduce the number of collisions.

Partners/Funders
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, Western Transportation Institute, Woodcock Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Calgary Foundation

Road Watch BC enables citizens to report their wildlife sightings along transportation corridors in southeastern British Columbia. Citizens report their observations using a smartphone application or through an on-line mapping tool. The information will be used to identify hotspots of wildlife-vehicle collisions and where wildlife are most likely to cross the highway. Project partners will use the information to promote local awareness around where to slow down for wildlife and to inform strategies to improve wildlife connectivity, human safety and wildlife safety.

Partners/Funders
Wildsight, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, Western Transportation Institute, Adaptive Management Initiative of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, Patagonia Environmental Grants Fund of the Tides Foundation, TECK

FINANCIAL DIMENSIONS OF CONSERVATION

How we manage our personal and public finances has often complicated conservation efforts. Increasingly, however, financial management is proving itself to be a powerful force in promoting and supporting conservation efforts. At Miistakis, we work to understand the financial dimensions of conserving nature, including fiscal decision-making, market-based tools (like transfer of development credits, for example), funding conservation initiatives, taxation, consumer and corporate incentives, and costs to society. Then we work to develop the ideas, policies, and tools that put money to work for nature.

PROJECTS:

TDCs in Rocky View County

The area of Rocky View County between Cochrane and Calgary is dominated by the beautiful Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. A new Area Structure Plan is being created for that area, and the County is seeking to have an equitable and viable way to reconcile the development interest in the area with the conservation heritage the Park represents. Miistakis is helping by framing a Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) concept for the new Area Structure Plan. We are working with the County planners, landowners, engineers, and community members to design a TDC program that can use the development pressure to generate conservation opportunities.

Partners/Funders
Rocky View County, O2 Design, Sedulous Engineering

GIS FOR CONSERVATION

GIS is more than just maps. Since conservation issues are so closely tied to locations and landscapes, much of our work has some geographic information system (GIS) or mapping component. This works includes: publishing maps to share ideas or results; analyzing data to enhance our understanding of complex challenges; creating new data to fill critical gaps; and designing map-based applications to explore the spatial context of conservation questions.

PROJECTS:

SALTS Cowboy Trail Conservation Initiative
Crown of the Continent Snowpack Analysis
MRU Library

Miistakis has provided GIS and spatial analysis support to the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS) as part of their Cowboy Trail Conservation Initiative- a regional-scale project that will identify and prioritize private lands for conservation in southwestern Alberta. The Cowboy Trail Conservation Initiative will focus on the portion of Alberta’s Highway 22 between Longview and the Waldron Grazing Cooperative, traversing some of our province's most cherished and iconic landscapes.

With SALTS identifying key conservation values in the region, Miistakis has developed a series of maps that depict these values across the landscape, and overlay different conservation themes to help prioritize the most important private lands for conservation. The maps will be used to provide spatial context to discussions with local landowners, municipal governments, and conservation groups, aimed at identifying and prioritizing private land conservation objectives.

Partners/Funders
SALTS

Miistakis is working with Dr. Len Broberg (University of Montana) on a Crown Managers Partnership project that maps snow-water equivalency (SWE) across the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem (CoCE). By studying seasonal SWE differences over 34 years of available data, we hope to gain a sense of which watersheds in the CoCE might be most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

Partners/Funders
University of Montana (Dr. Len Broberg); Crown Managers Partnership, United States Geological Survey

Providing access to information is key to our efforts at Miistakis. This includes all types of information, including spatial data. To that end, the Miistakis Institute is working with Mount Royal University (MRU) Library to build a virtual data hub for spatial resources. This hub will enable MRU library users to query a catalogue of spatial and thematic data, and access data currently held by MRU Library or the Miistakis Institute. This is the first phase of a three-phase concept, aimed at connecting MRU and the broader community through a distributed, decentralized, and efficient data distribution model.

Partners/Funders
Mount Royal University'

HUMAN-WILDLIFE COEXISTENCE

On today's changing landscape it is often challenging for wildlife to coexist with humans. Human developments like housing, agriculture, industry, and recreation infringe on wildlife habitat and movement areas. By using the best available science, Miistakis examines the ways to improve human coexistence with wildlife. This often includes determining wildlife needs, assessing human impacts on wildlife habitat, and exploring adaptive management approaches.

PROJECTS:

Grizz Tracker (grizztracker.ca)
Putting Beavers to Work
Economic Impact of Wildlife on Beef Producers in Alberta

Grizz Tracker was developed in partnership with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) in collaboration with industrial stakeholders. It enables industrial personnel working in the Lower Peace Region to collect sighting information on grizzly bears through a smartphone application or associated on-line mapping tool. This program formalized existing efforts by industrial personnel to report grizzly bear sightings to Peace Region AEP staff. Past reporting efforts have assisted AEP in better understanding grizzly bear presence and helped to inform the locations of hair snag monitoring sites, which are used to identify individual grizzly bears through genetic analysis of hair samples. For more information visit the website.

Partners/Funders
Alberta Environment and Parks, Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Boucher Bro Lumber Ltd., Canfor, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Manning Diversified Forest Products

Think beavers are just busy being a nuisance? The reality is that beavers are water bankers, meaning that between 30 and 60 percent of water in a watershed is held by the structures they create. And, that is only the water we can see. Their structures slow the movement of water downstream, allowing groundwater capture. There is five to ten times more water stored beneath and adjacent to beaver ponds as groundwater. Ultimately this means two to ten times more water in streams with beaver ponds, versus those without. Most importantly, it also means that water is delivered in normal low-flow periods when fish and downstream water users need it most.

This project will help land owners and managers understand the important role of beavers in our watersheds. It will also work to educate key audiences about the roles that beaver play in improving our water quality and quantity. Through this understanding, we aim to build support for working with beavers to bank water for people, and bring beavers back to landscapes that can most benefit from their presence.

Partners/Funders
ALCES Group, University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, Cows and Fish, Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Adaptive Management Initiative of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Beef producers in Alberta share the landscape with wildlife, and coexisting with wildlife often produces economic challenges. These challenges come in various forms including the injury or loss of livestock and damage to crops. The Miistakis Institute and the Alberta Beef Producers worked together to understand the effect of wildlife on the finances of beef producers by surveying producers on-line. The knowledge gained will lead to better policies and programs to reduce the impacts on producers while maintaining healthy wildlife populations. More information can be found here.

Partners/Funders
Alberta Beef Producers

CITIZEN SCIENCE FOR CONSERVATION

When people can contribute personal observations, knowledge, and experiences to broader conservation research, they become more engaged in conservation issues and more empowered to make change. And the information generated through such “citizen science” helps to advance conservation practice. Miistakis uses a citizen science approach to generate data to better understand conservation challenges, and develops tools that contribute to successful citizen science projects.

PROJECTS:

Greenway Citizen Science Project
Wild Watch Shell (iwildwatch.ca)
AEMERA

The Calgary Parks Foundation is developing the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway Project- a 138km network of parks and pathways encircling the City of Calgary. Along the pathway users will find unique amenities such as off-leash dog parks, family fitness parks, educational wetland interpretive areas, and unique play structures. As a sponsor of a Greenway amenity, Enbridge plans to develop a citizen science program that enables citizens to participate in research or environmental monitoring along the pathway. Miistakis is working with Enbridge and the Calgary Parks Foundation to undertake a scoping process to identify key environmental concerns relating to the Greenway pathway, as well as review current monitoring programs, environmental planning and initiatives that could inform the development of a new citizen science program. The outcome of this scoping component is to identify the ideal Greenway citizen science program.

Partners/Funders
Enbridge, The Calgary Parks Foundation

Wild Watch is a citizen science program developed in partnership with Cenovus Energy that has now been adopted by Shell Canada. Wild Watchers report their wildlife observations using an interactive on-line mapping tool, smartphone app or hard copy form. Collectively, the observations are an important contribution to wildlife mitigation planning efforts at industrial sites in Northern Alberta. For more information please visit the website.

Partners/Funders
Cenovus Energy, Shell Canada Ltd.

Citizen science can advance environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting in addition to enhancing the understanding and engagement of communities and the public. The benefit of using a citizen science approach is the duality of advancing environmental outcomes while enhancing citizen engagement. This union leads to benefits that include advanced scientific knowledge, enhanced stewardship of biodiversity and ecological systems, cost efficiencies and enhanced data collection. AEMERA, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency, is committed to exploring how citizen science can play a role in environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting. To that end, Miistakis is undertaking a project with AEMERA to identify where and how citizen science can be used to advance AEMERA’s goals and objectives.

Partners/Funders
AEMERA

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

Human well-being is based largely on the benefits we derive from nature, otherwise known as ecosystem services. That view is fast becoming a dominant conservation theme, embraced by a range of people from policy-makers to industry leaders to landowners. Miistakis is working to understand how an ecosystem services approach to valuing nature can best be applied to conserving ecological systems. We do this through research, modelling, developing tools, analyzing programs, and by convening and broadening the necessary discussions.

PROJECTS:

Putting Beavers to Work

Think beavers are just busy being a nuisance? The reality is that beavers are water bankers, meaning that between 30 and 60 percent of water in a watershed is held by the structures they create. And, that is only the water we can see. Their structures slow the movement of water downstream, allowing groundwater capture. There is five to ten times more water stored beneath and adjacent to beaver ponds as groundwater. Ultimately this means two to ten times more water in streams with beaver ponds, versus those without. Most importantly, it also means that water is delivered in normal low-flow periods when fish and downstream water users need it most.

This project will help land owners and managers understand the important role of beavers in our watersheds. It will also work to educate key audiences about the roles that beaver play in improving our water quality and quantity. Through this understanding, we aim to build support for working with beavers to bank water for people, and bring beavers back to landscapes that can most benefit from their presence.

Partners/Funders
ALCES Group, University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, Cows and Fish, Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Adaptive Management Initiative of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

PRIVATE LAND CONSERVATION

Much of the land critical for wildlife habitat, water cycling, nutrient flows, and other ecological processes is privately held. Land trusts and municipalities are working to ensure critical parcels of land continue to play these important roles. Miistakis supports the individual organizations as well as the private land conservation community - including landowners - by providing research services, tools, resources, planning management assistance, and policy assistance.

PROJECTS:

Think beavers are just busy being a nuisance? The reality is that beavers are water bankers, meaning that between 30 and 60 percent of water in a watershed is held by the structures they create. And, that is only the water we can see. Their structures slow the movement of water downstream, allowing groundwater capture. There is five to ten times more water stored beneath and adjacent to beaver ponds as groundwater. Ultimately this means two to ten times more water in streams with beaver ponds, versus those without. Most importantly, it also means that water is delivered in normal low-flow periods when fish and downstream water users need it most.

This project will help land owners and managers understand the important role of beavers in our watersheds. It will also work to educate key audiences about the roles that beaver play in improving our water quality and quantity. Through this understanding, we aim to build support for working with beavers to bank water for people, and bring beavers back to landscapes that can most benefit from their presence.

Partners/Funders
ALCES Group, University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, Cows and Fish, Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Adaptive Management Initiative of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation


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Our People

STAFF


Ken enjoys applying his problem solving, computer programming, and GIS skills to Miistakis projects. He has been with Miistakis for 13 years and his work includes managing the IT infrastructure, computer programming for web development and GIS related applications and project management. Most recently he has been working on a project with Cenovus that involves creating a wildlife observation app and a web mapping application. He has also involved in the Leave It To Beavers Watershed Stewardship project. Ken believes that Miistakis fills a void in the steps between research and decision makers. He also thinks that Miistakis plays an important role by providing support that helps other organizations reach their goals.

Greg is passionate about the work he gets to do at Miistakis. With a background in biogeography and GIS, Greg brings a spatial perspective to the questions and problems that Miistakis approaches. He has been with Miistakis for 10 years, and his work includes GIS, remote sensing, mapping and providing technical support for other Miistakis projects. Recently, he has worked on mapping conservation values at a community level, modelling connectivity across near-urban landscapes and developing, and helping to teach, an advanced GIS course at Mount Royal University. Greg believes that Miistakis plays a crucial role by acting as a hub between the research and ideas that are generated at academic institutions and the people who apply those ideas to real-world conservation and land use problems.

Guy is passionate about the emphasis that Miistakis places on applied research. With a background in English and creative writing, human geography, environmental design and private land conservation, Guy is interested in the impact that communication has on ecosystem and resource management. Guy has been with Miistakis for 10 years and is involved in land use, private land conservation and communications work. He also contributes the following skills: the ability to connect the broad visionary view with detailed planning and action steps; his knowledge of financial and fiscal tools; and his talent for turning ideas into projects. One of the recent projects that he has been involved with is developing a comprehensive web guide for conservation easements in Alberta. Guy believes that Miistakis's work is important because it genuinely gets scientific and research information into the hands of people who can use it for conservation.

Danah is passionate about combining science and research with conservation. As Executive Director, Danah is involved in all areas of work at Miistakis. She is an inclusive leader who excels at connecting vision to operations. During her 13 years at Miistakis, Danah has been involved with strategic visioning and project development, operationalizing work plans, fundraising, cultivating partnerships, specific project research, financial management, reporting and supporting staff. She believes that Miistakis's role as a knowledge broker between academics/researchers and resource/land managers is crucial to addressing land use and conservation issues.

Kim has always had a deep respect for the work that Miistakis does. Her background in private land conservation and land use, conservation easements, agriculture and psychology enables her to bring a slightly different perspective to the work she does at Miistakis. She has been with Miistakis for six years and her work involves private land conservation, ecosystem services and human-wildlife coexistence. Some of the projects that she has worked on include the Transfer of Development Credits project and the Grassland Stewardship project. Kim believes that Miistakis's private land conservation work is valuable because it assists with the transfer of information and knowledge in ways that help people to make informed decisions. She also feels that Miistakis plays a valuable role by bringing forth new and innovative ideas that promote conservation.

Tracy developed a passion and appreciation for citizen science during her past experiences in Africa. She completed her master's degree through Miistakis on a citizen science project called Road Watch in the Pass. Tracy's main research areas include citizen science, wildlife management and transportation ecology. Some of the projects she has worked on this past year include Collision Count and Wild Watch. Tracy feels that the work Miistakis does is important because it involves applied conservation research that informs better land use decisions, choices and policies. She also thinks that Miistakis plays a valuable role by producing knowledge that helps communities to make more informed decisions and choices.

Rachelle is interested in telling Miistakis's stories about conservation. After partnering with Miistakis to complete her master's degree research, Rachelle began working full-time with Miistakis in 2010. She has a background in natural resources conservation and her skill set includes survey design, literature review and synthesis, outreach and communications, and general project support. In addition to maintaining Miistakis's communication tools, Rachelle is also involved in the Leave It To Beavers Watershed Stewardship project; the Highway Wilding project; and recreation access management planning. Rachelle feels that Miistakis plays a valuable role by taking existing information and making it accessible to people who are making tough decisions about the future of Alberta's landscapes and wildlife.

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PARTNERS

Adam Cooney
Adam Ford
Alberta Association of Conservation Offsets
Alberta Beef Producers
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Alberta Conservation Association
Alberta Ecotrust Foundation
Alberta Environment and Parks
Alberta Transportation
ALCES Group
All One Sky Foundation
Anatum Consulting Ltd.
Boucher Bro Lumber Ltd
Calgary Parks Foundation
Calgary Regional Partnership
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd
Carolyn Haddock
Cenovus Energy
Centre for Large Landscape Connectivity
City of Calgary Parks Department
Clay Graphic Design
Climate Change Emissions Management Corporation
Cows and Fish
Crown Managers Partnership
Crown Roundtable
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd
Edmonton Community Foundation
Enbridge Inc.
Environmental Law Centre
Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary
Gwendo Greenaway
Institute for Environmental Sustainability @ MRU
Kilometre Design
Land Stewardship Centre of Canada
Manning Diversified Forest Products
Max Bell Foundation
Mount Royal University
Oldman Watershed Council
Parkland Industries Ltd.
Patagonia Environmental Grants Fund of the Tides Foundation
Ranchers Stewardship Alliance
Rob Schaufele
Rockyview County
Service Canada
Shell Canada
Southern Alberta Land Trust Society
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area
The Calgary Foundation – Community Grant
Tri-L Ranch Ltd.
Trout Unlimited
University of Alberta Augustana Campus
Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University
Wheatland County
Wilburforce Foundation
Wildsight
Woodcock Foundation
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


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DIRECTORS

Michael S. Quinn, Chair
Associate Vice President
Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement
Talisman Energy Chair of Environmental Sustainability
Mount Royal University

Marco Musiani, Vice Chair
Associate Professor
Faculty of Environmental Design
University of Calgary

Rob Senko, Treasurer
Director, Regulatory Economics and Policy
Altalink Management Ltd.

Gael G. MacLeod
Consultant
MacLeod Consulting

Len Broberg
Professor/Program Director
Environmental Studies Program
University of Montana

Bill Dolan
Land and Resource Management Coordinator
Southern Region
Alberta Environment and Parks

Ian Dyson
Senior Manager, Planning Branch
Alberta Environment and Parks

Robert Parkinson
Manager, Geomatics and Asset Record Management
ENMAX Power Corporation

Jaqueline Nelson
Rancher


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Financials


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