Announcing our Spring Grantees!
The Alberta Ecotrust Foundation’s corporate and environmental partners met in mid-May to review 11 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 $95,800 in grants. The grants finance on-the-ground projects ranging from educating youth on issues related to electricity consumption, to watershed management and restoration, to community engagement on bat conservation.
Major Project: Heart River Watershed Restoration Project
Grantee: Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society – Cows & Fish
The Heart River is located in northern Alberta and enters the Peace River at the Town of Peace River. Changes within the watershed in the last few decades have resulted in issues and concerns related to aquatic health, particularly for fish and fish habitat. Over time, development, land use activities in the watershed and recreational fishing have impacted fish and their habitat in the Heart River.
The results of water quality monitoring indicate that agricultural activities are one of the actions contributing to the deterioration of source water quality within the Heart River watershed. Clearing of land, altering wetlands and removing the riparian areas affects the filtering and buffering functions of the watershed. As a result of this extensive habitat alteration and poor water quality there has been a significant loss of the native fish population.
The goal of the Heart River Watershed Restoration Project is to restore fish habitat by improving water quality and quantity. This is an on-the-ground restoration project for fish habitats with localized and dedicated planning by numerous diverse partners, particularly in the northern part of Alberta. In addition to the implementation of restoration projects and working with landowners this project also includes the development of the ‘Life and Times of the Heart River Watershed’ as a key education and outreach presentation.
Major Project: How Special? Defining a Special Management Area for the South Saskatchewan Planning Region
Grantee: Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative Foundation
Priority: Land Use
The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) established a new Pekisko Heritage Rangeland southwest of Longview — where forested foothills interspersed with rolling grasslands are prime habitat for many Rocky Mountain species, including grizzly bears, lynx and golden eagles. The SSRP proposes a new Special Management Area (SMA), linking Pekisko to Don Getty Provincial Park.
Wildlife movement ability is becoming increasingly important, but threatened, in the context of growing urban and industrial development, and climate change. While wildlife connectivity has been identified as a conservation priority for decades, few jurisdictions have done anything formally to identify and protect wildlife corridors. Alberta took a bold step in 2014 by proposing an SMA linking Pekisko Heritage Rangeland and Don Getty Provincial Park. Y2Y will help build essential public and political support to ensure this precedent-setting SMA is created and managed – including usage, access and roads – with wildlife connectivity as its top priority.
Major Project: Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed – Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping Project
Lac La Biche is the seventh largest lake in Alberta with importance to the local ecosystem, economy and culture. Local and provincial government, in collaboration with lake stakeholders, created a watershed management plan for Lac La Biche in 2009, but to date, little has been done to implement it. The Stewards of the Lac La Biche Watershed are a group of community stakeholders committed to implementing the monitoring, outreach and stewardship recommendations in the plan.
Alberta Ecotrust had the pleasure of supporting Phase 1 of this project and now the Stewards of Lac La Biche Watershed are building on this previous success as they enter Phase 2. The second phase of the Lac La Biche Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping project will use federal scientific protocols to identify and assess high value fish and wildlife habitats, and develop guidelines, recommendations and planning mechanisms for conservation. It will also provide an opportunity to improve land use and lake management decisions through the creation of Shoreline Management Guidelines that better protect, stabilize and enhance important fish and wildlife habitats and the water they depend on.
Community Project: Recovery Strategies for Foothills Fescue Grasslands
Grantee: Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative
Priority: Land Use
Industrial and urban development, consumptive recreation and intensification of agriculture are rapidly degrading Alberta’s remaining native fescue grasslands. The conservation and restoration of intact native grassland landscapes are critical to maintaining habitat, biodiversity and the watersheds that support us however there are knowledge gaps regarding our ability to restore fescue grasslands.
The Foothills Restoration Forum is seeking meaningful critique of the draft guidance document, “Recovery Strategies for Industrial Development on Rough Fescue Grassland” by grassland stakeholders in two workshop settings (multi-stakeholder and technical expert workshops), after which the document will be finalized, distributed, and promoted. The tools developed in the Foothill Fescue, Foothills Parkland and Montane Recovery Strategies Guidance documents will enable land managers, planners, practitioners and community members to make informed choices to minimize loss of fescue grasslands and promote their restoration after disturbance.
Community Project: Powering Our World
Grantee: Green Calgary Association
Priority: Climate Change
Alberta has a real opportunity to innovate its energy sector over the next 20 years and make a substantial shift from fossil fuels to renewables. That change will come from a generation that is more tech-savvy than ever before. Through exploration of the energy they use today, demonstrating the real cost of producing that energy, and empowering youth to do something about it this pilot project aims to create impactful behaviour changes for students in Grades 9-12.
The classroom based program has direct curriculum ties to each grade level and students will have the opportunity to participate in hands on activities using tools such as wattage meters, pedal bikes and batteries to help them explore their own energy use and how they can actually be accountable to energy reduction through their own acts. In addition to these interactive activities students and classrooms will make pledges to reduce their energy consumption.
Community Project: Alberta Community Bat Project
Grantee: WCS Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Priority: Land Use
Bats play a vital ecological role in controlling insects, many of which are considered pests to agriculture and forestry industries. As the longest-lived and slowest reproducing of all small mammals, bats cannot recover quickly from population die-backs. Yet mass mortality of bats caused by the fungal disease White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is already occurring in eastern Canada, and this disease has now appeared in the west. As a result of mass mortalities, three species were recently listed as Endangered in Canada. Two of these (little brown myotis and northern myotis) occur in Alberta, where very little is known about their ecology, especially in winter, when WNS kills bats as they hibernate.
The Alberta Community Bat program is designed to raise public awareness of the important role bats play in the ecosystem and the unprecedented threats they now face. The project aims to facilitate the active engagement of Alberta citizens in bat conservation through habitat enhancement and protection, identifying significant summer maternity colonies of bats and assisting in baseline data collection and monitoring trends in bat populations.
Community Project: Climate Change Knowledge Building & Dialogue Sessions with the Kainai First Nation
Grantee: All One Sky Foundation
Priority: Climate Change
The Kainai First Nation, also known as the Blood Tribe, is the largest reserve in Canada. Considered a vibrant, self-reliant and self-sufficient society, its land is rich in natural resources and once was capable of supplying all the Tribe’s basic health and economic needs. As the world faces unprecedented challenges due to climate change, the Kainai First Nation aims to continue its leadership by developing best practices in climate resilience and adaptation for its people and as an inspiration to other Nations.
Together the Kainai First Nation, the Rockies Institute and All One Sky will co-design a participatory method to learn about climate change. This allows for a customized approach that works for the Tribe and the different learning needs within the community. Through this partnership the Kainai First Nation will build its internal capacity to create climate resilient pathways to mitigate climate risk now and in the future.