Ponoka County landowners improve river health

Many landowners and organizations came together to make the second year of a riparian project in Ponoka.

Landowners in Ponoka County have helped restore some of the Battle River’s riparian health due to a change in processes. Here on the MSW Meats far

Submitted

Many landowners and organizations came together to make the second year of the Battle River Watershed Alliance’s (BRWA) Ponoka Riparian Restoration Program a great success.

In partnership with Cows and Fish, 18 riparian health assessments have now been completed in Ponoka County and the Town of Ponoka, including 13 Battle River sites and five lake, creek and wetland sites. These assessments help us get a better idea of the health of riparian areas in the Battle River watershed, which are critical for water filtration and storage and fish and wildlife habitat.

We can then make informed decisions about management actions that could help improve riparian health.

A number of landowner projects were also completed with financial support from the Government of Alberta’s Agricultural Watershed Enhancement Program and the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

Over 10,000 trees were planted in the Battle River valley through a partnership with the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society. In addition, about six kilometres of riparian fencing and six off-site watering systems have been installed to manage livestock access to the Battle River and other natural water bodies, allowing riparian grasses, willows and other vegetation to recover.

An additional two kilometres of riparian fencing and 6 additional off-site watering systems are set to be installed in the coming year.

In July, the BRWA partnered with the Grey Wooded Forage Association, Cows and Fish, and the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society to host a Riparian Field Day at MSW Farms in Ponoka County.

Topics included riparian plant identification, riparian health assessments, tree planting and woodlot management, and an electric fencing demonstration. We also heard from Mark Stewart, owner of MSW Farms, about riparian stewardship actions he has implemented on his land with support from the Ponoka Riparian Restoration Program.

After installing riparian fencing and off-site watering systems to keep his cattle out of the river, Stewart made this observation:

“The cattle are getting more water and we’ve learned how to improve the quality of the river. It also showed me that I can make a big difference and that’s been proven by seeing an increase in the fish that are hanging out in our section of the river.”

The BRWA appreciates the efforts of all the landowners involved in the Ponoka Riparian Restoration Program. Their commitment to being stewards of the Battle River watershed is an encouragement for all of us to do likewise.