Proposed projects are aimed preventing livestock from watering directly from the Battle River in an effort to save both vegetation on the banks and the fish stocks.

Proposed projects are aimed preventing livestock from watering directly from the Battle River in an effort to save both vegetation on the banks and the fish stocks.

Landowners called on to help improve the health of the Battle River

Battle River Watershed Alliance looks at a riparian restoration program for Ponoka area.

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Ponoka Riparian Restoration Program, launched last spring, is still appealing for landowners within the Ponoka County to become partners and receive funding in projects aimed at improving the health of the Battle River and its tributary streams.

Sarah Skinner, program coordinator said there were currently two projects under implementation that involve fencing along the Battle River and installing livestock watering systems.

“When livestock water directly from the river, they can cause damage to the riparian area by trampling vegetation and increasing the amount of bare soil,” Skinner said.

“By removing livestock from the riverbank and providing them with an alternate water source, vegetation is able to bounce back and filter water as it flows off the surrounding land. This helps provide cleaner water to landowners and communities downstream.

“In addition, watering systems are able to provide cleaner drinking water for livestock. This improves weight gain in livestock, as well as their overall health.”

The program is providing funding to landowners that become partners in the program with the only condition to apply being ownership of land along the Battle River.

“An important first step in improving the health of the Battle River is to understand our starting point. How healthy or unhealthy is the river right now?” asked Skinner. “The health of the riparian area (the green zone of vegetation along waterways) is extremely important to water quality and fish populations in the river.”

The BRWA is working with Cows and Fish to conduct riparian health assessments to measure the current health of the Battle River’s riparian areas. “If any unhealthy areas are identified, we can look at potential actions that would help improve the health of those areas.” Skinner explained. Eight riparian health assessments will be carried out along the Battle River in the Ponoka region this summer, and additional funding is available to do more next year. Landowners interested in having an assessment done on their land can contact the BRWA for more information.

“We’re also excited to have some hands-on landowner projects getting underway this summer,” Skinner said of the two projects already underway. “If we’re able to reduce the human and animal footprint in the riparian area, natural vegetation is able to bounce back and help filter water as it flows off the surrounding land. This is good news for landowners and communities downstream, as well as for fish populations and the health of the river as a whole.”

Interested landowners in Ponoka County with land along the Battle River or its tributary streams are encouraged to contact the BRWA at 1-888-672-0276 for more information or to apply for funding.