2015 Spring Grants

Alberta Ecotrust corporate and environmental Partners met during Environment Week in June to review 14 applications for funding from nonprofits operating across Alberta. While sharing critical knowledge and engaging in healthy debate, the committee awarded seven Alberta environmental groups with $52,500 in grants.

The grants finance on-the-ground projects ranging from educating youth on issues related to Alberta’s water resources, to remediation of hazardous habitats, to community engagement and action on climate change initiatives. Detailed information about our Spring Grantees is provided below.


Project: Navigate Youth Water Education Project

Grantee: Inside Education Society of Alberta
Priority: Water

Inside Education will present their 6th annual nationally-recognized youth learning summit in 2016 providing Alberta high school student leaders opportunities to learn with and from Alberta’s environmental experts.

The aim of Navigate 2016 will be to increase and improve the water literacy of high school students and teachers and to motivate them to act at a local, community and watershed level. After engaging with Alberta’s water leaders from the not-for-profit sector, industry, government, and academia, each school will develop its own action plan based on the needs of their community. Inside Education, alongside our partners and supporters will assist with the development and implementation of the community plans. The creativity and successful implementation of these projects is equally important as providing the learning and leadership experience to Alberta’s next generation of stewards.

Inside Education knows from experience (including the 2012 Alberta Ecotrust-supported Navigate Summit) that the students attending the program are leaders in their school and that their experiences will be life changing, motivating and will make an immeasurable difference. “Once-in-a-lifetime” is an expression probably used too often – but students from as far north as Fort Chipewyan and as far south as Pincher Creek have used that very expression to describe experiences at Navigate.

Young people are not content to wait to figure out what they will ‘be when they grow up’ – they want to be agents of knowledge and change now. Navigate 2016 will provide an opportunity for leadership, stewardship and action.


Project: Local Climate Change Network

Grantee:  Pembina Foundation for Environmental Research and Education
Priority: Climate Change

Climate change is an issue of both global and local importance. The projected adverse impacts on people, wildlife, water and ecosystems is unprecedented. Alberta Ecotrust has rightfully identified climate change as one of its top environmental priorities in its work to create sustainable environmental benefits for Alberta communities.

While there are policies being developed at the national and provincial level, there is a lot of opportunity for grassroots action and engagement. Calgary has many organizations and citizens’ groups working on climate change related issues; these include NGOs, cooperatives, activist groups, energy companies, clean technology companies, academia, governments and social justice groups. However, as Alberta Ecotrust has summarized in its mapping exercise, very few of them are explicitly involved in the field, and they have limited interactions with one another.

This project aims to build on the mapping work of Alberta Ecotrust, by identifying potential pathways to improve the effectiveness of local action to increase awareness of climate change issues, through collaboration. It will build an understanding of the goals and approaches of the different climate change related initiatives currently underway in and around Calgary. The next phase of building the network will use the recommendations of this project to implement some concrete activities that will increase collaboration between actors, drive more solutions-focused conversations on climate change, and more strategic local activity in the field. The form of the network would depend on the outcomes of this project and could range from a largely autonomous grouping of initiatives to a more coordinated effort.


Project: Long-term Revegetation Success of Industry Reclamation Techniques in Native Grasslands

Grantee:  Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative
Priority:  Land Use

Alberta’s native grasslands provide environmental, economic and social benefits to the residents of Alberta and beyond. Native grasslands provide important functions, such as cleansing our air, filtering our water, and storing carbon. Native grasslands support a diversity of flora and provide habitat for keystone wildlife species such as elk and bears. Industrial development and intensification of agriculture are rapidly changing Alberta’s prairie landscapes with large consequences on native habitat for fisheries, wildlife and ecosystem services.

There is uncertainty regarding our ability to restore native grassland plant communities such as fescue grasslands. Given increasing development pressures from multiple industries on grasslands of the foothills and eastern slopes, there is an urgent need to determine effective restoration methods and promote industry stewardship on native grassland landscapes. Revegetation monitoring on recovering disturbances in the native grasslands in the Foothills Fescue and Montane Natural Subregions will provide reclamation practitioners with important science-based information and tools for effective reclamation practice that promotes restoration of disturbances.

Developing guidelines to improve reclamation practice supports the Foothills Restorations Forums mission to educate and disseminate information that will improve reclamation practice and stewardship. Thus far, similar studies have been completed for the Dry Mixedgrass, Mixedgrass and Northern Fescue Natural Subregions. This project is required to complete the suite of new tools. The resulting tools are used by colleges (e.g. Medicine Hat and Lethbridge) in their reclamation courses and by practitioners in improving reclamation outcomes on native prairie.


Project: Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed

Grantee:  Wildsight – Living Lakes Canada
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Priority:  Water

In 2009, the County of Lac La Biche developed a watershed management plan identifying areas of concern in the Lac La Biche watershed and detailing recommendations for improvements. To date, very few of these recommendations have been implemented. The first recommendation in the plan was to establish a Watershed Stewardship Group to establish a community membership dedicated to enacting these recommendations.

The short term goals of the Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed are to establish a community based membership and governance to increase the reach and the longevity of this group. The focus will be on membership and capacity building, outreach and education programs, as well as some water quality/quantity monitoring projects. In a short time we expect the creation of a watershed stewardship group that will be moving towards the completion of the recommendations set out in our local watershed management plan.

The Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed proposes a multi­phase project on Lac la Biche to integrate and implement the recommendations of the 2009 Lac La Biche Watershed Management Plan. They will work in collaboration with partner groups to implement recommendations identified under water quality, water quantity, riparian areas and wetlands, and fisheries, waterfowl and wildlife.

The Lac la Biche Watershed Stewardship Project will engage the community to better understand the health of the lake through active stewardship activities. Land use, riparian habitat changes, and existing sensitive fish and wildlife habitats will be identified through the collection of sound scientific data. It will provide an opportunity to improve land ­use and lake management decisions in a manner that better protects, stabilizes and enhances important fish and wildlife habitats and the water they depend on.


Project: Hazardous Habitats: Remediating Natural Areas to Improve Wildlife Safety

Grantee: Edmonton and Area Land Trust
Priority:  Land Use

The Edmonton & Area Land Trust has as its vision an Edmonton region where natural area systems are valued, preserved for future generations and play a key role in the social, economic and environmental life of the residents of the area.

Open pipes and many fences pose a hazard to wildlife, but most people are not aware of the issues which, if remedied, could save the lives of birds, deer and other wildlife. Through this project, we will demonstrate best practices for land stewardship by modifying fences and open pipe caps on our lands to be safe for wildlife, and will launch an educational campaign to encourage landowners to follow our steps in making their lands and yards wildlife friendly.

Our tangible, on the ground actions at EALT properties will ensure safe habitat for wildlife living and moving through our properties, and our educational campaign will raise awareness of these largely unknown issues that pose a significant hazard for wildlife.

Our project will result in removal and modification of several kilometres of unsafe fences, capping of unsafe open pipes, and education of thousands of people on the topic, with the goal to encourage these people to take similar actions on their own lands.


Project: A Collaborative Approach to Healthy Ecosystems

Grantee: All One Sky Foundation
Priority:  Climate Change

The effects of climate change are already apparent, with observable changes in temperature, precipitation and extreme weather events over the last century. In Alberta, these changes will have various impacts on our ecosystems, human communities as well as plant, animal and bird life. As Alberta’s history of costly and disruptive extreme weather events suggests, most communities are not adequately prepared to cope with current climate conditions, let alone a future with increased climate variability and extremes.

Through a collaborative effort between All One Sky and other ENGOs, municipal and industry associations, we will increase the number of communities evaluating their climate risks and prepare cost-effective climate adaptation strategies by:

  • – Educating communities about the threats and opportunities posed by climate change and how to sustainably manage these;
  • – Generating information and tools that simplify the climate adaptation process, and;
  • – Creating examples for other communities to follow.

In one year, three Alberta regions will have participated in facilitated workshops to develop a plan to sustainably manage the impacts of climate change. The resulting educational materials and planning toolkit will be circulated via webinar, web pages and presentations at municipal gatherings. The project’s legacy will be an effective process and tools which build the capacity of communities to be sustainable in an unpredictable future. Success will be measured by surveying stakeholders about the workshop process and how their climate plans factor into their strategic planning. We will poll municipalities on the usefulness of the project’s process and tools.


Nature Alberta’s Nature Kids

Grantee: Nature Alberta
Priority:  Land Use

Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) as coined by Louv (2008) is a term indicating the negative repercussions that stem from a diminishing connection between children and nature. Pioneers of the Children and Nature movement suggest that “an upbringing without experience in the natural world not only influences later preferences, educational practice, and national policy on the environment but has a marked effect on physical and mental health as well as learning capacities” (Weigl, 2009).

Alberta has a wealth of natural areas, parks and green spaces. Children, and their families should be provided with opportunities to discover and experience their natural world. It has been suggested that children with families that are involved in nature education are “happier, less stressed, more cooperative, more self­‐disciplined, better problem solvers, and more creative” (Charles, 2009).

The aim of Nature Kids (NK) is to foster a passion for nature in a younger generation of naturalists who may, one day, be the ones to take action on behalf of the environment.

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