PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

Leave It To Beavers

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This project will address the need to demonstrate the value that beavers play in maintaining and improving watershed health. A healthy population of beavers once lived on the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA), although they have been extirpated from the landscape. Further, across the province of Alberta, many hundreds and likely thousands of beavers are shot or killed through the use of traps every year. This project will demonstrate how beavers have traditionally played an important role in ecosystem health through the provision of healthy wetlands which also serve to hold high quality water in upper watershed areas for groundwater recharge and surface run-off. In a water-stressed landscape, such as southern Alberta, beavers could be used as an effective strategy to improve water quality and quantity. Beavers can be relocated to areas where they will provide natural engineering to improve water quantity and quality and provide a natural climate change adaptation strategy.

The ASCCA, Miistakis and Cows and Fish are collaborating to reintroduce beaver to the Pine Creek watershed. A monitoring program geared toward showing change over time in both water quantity and quality will be designed to document the changes that follow beaver reintroduction. Cows and Fish will play a key role in creating and implementing riparian health assessments pre- and post- beaver introduction. Additionally, part of the monitoring program will include variables that can be studied by citizen scientists including students from the Calgary Science School amongst others. The citizen science component of this project will involve on-line tools to track the change over time and may include the development of “apps” to engage citizen scientists in a meaningful way. Involving students and others in monitoring this watershed stewardship effort will raise awareness about watershed issues including land management practices. In the future, project partners plan to engage interested land owners and land managers in workshops and other extension work focused on co-existing with beavers.

To learn more about this project, please visit our website: http://www.rockies.ca/beavers/index.php

We are grateful to the following funders for their generous support of this project: Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Ecotrust, the Calgary Foundation Community Grants Program, the Land Stewardship Centre, RBC Blue Water Project, State Farm Youth Advisory Board and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

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