SENSITIVE HABITAT INVENTORY MAPPING – ALBERTA 2.0Category: 2017, Community Grant, Current, Grant, Water
Lesser Slave Lake is the third largest lake in the province, a popular tourist destination and a recognized biologically significant area for bird life. The lake is a source of water for agriculture, forestry, and recreation/tourism, domestic and municipal uses.
The local community and Lesser Slave Watershed Council (LSWC) began a watershed planning process in 2013 including community consultations and scientific studies, and in 2017 drafted the Lesser Slave Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP). The watershed plan is developed in collaboration with the broader Lesser Slave watershed community, including local governments, First Nations and Métis communities, the provincial government, and stakeholders. The plan is a guidance document and planning tool for resource managers. It identifies issues, sets out common goals and objectives for the long-term management of land and water resources in the basin, and then makes recommendations on how to meet those goals and objectives.
Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) was originally developed in 2001 by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and has been applied to more than 15 lakes in British Columbia. The methodology was successfully modified and applied by Living Lakes Canada to Lac La Biche, Alberta in 2016, a project supported by Alberta Ecotrust, and the first of its kind in Alberta. The SHIM Alberta 2.0 project will integrate technological advances and further improvements to the methodology, in order to build a database specific to Alberta lakes, improving the application and efficiency of SHIM in Alberta overall, while also supporting the Lesser Slave Lake SHIM Project.
SHIM incorporates scientific analysis of land use, riparian habitat changes, and existing sensitive fish and wildlife habitats in order to classify, conserve, and restore shoreline habitat values. It will 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, key goals of the IWMP.