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Out and About in the Watershed
AWC-WPAC and Events | education, events, and Outreach | June 2019

We have been very busy here at the Athabasca Watershed Council’s office over the past few weeks. Part of a WPAC’s (Watershed Planning and Advisory Council) function is to “facilitate education and stewardship actions” and we have been doing just that, up and down the watershed.

Trade Shows – Athabasca & Whitecourt

Our first trade show in Athabasca, April 26 & 27, was a great success. About 1500 folks came through the doors over the two days. There was a good mix of businesses and organizations set up to show.

We got to talk to over 100 people from around the Athabasca area. Many who stopped to talk were lake property owners. As with many lake residents, blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) was a hot topic. We reminded them that the blue-green algae is present in many lakes, and they can help reduce blooms by limiting the amount of nutrients that run off into the lake.

Staff at the AWC booth - Whitecourt Trade Show
Look at all those door prize entries! – Whitecourt Trade Show

Over the Mother’s Day weekend, we visited Whitecourt and manned our booth at their trade fair. The weekend was pretty busy with over 3000 people attending.

We talked to about 500 people (phew!) and had some really great conversations. Many of the folks we talked to like to tube down the McLeod River. Sounds like fun! They had a lot of concerns about river users leaving behind trash, both at the launch areas and along the banks.

It’s pretty disappointing to hear stories of people disrespecting their rivers with garbage, even after so many years of public education on littering. Maybe folks in Whitecourt could get together and do a Clean-up Flotilla at the end of the season. That would be great to see!

Pond Days

One of our partners, Highway 2 Conservation, has been running an annual Grade 5 education program, Pond Days, in partnership with Athabasca County, County of Barrhead and Westlock County. We were invited to present our Watershed Pollution model to the students.

Unfortunately, due to the smoke from wildfires, both the Athabasca County and County of Barrhead Pond Days had to be cancelled. We were pretty disappointed, but the health of the kids is utmost and fire smoke can be very irritating to young lungs.

Sarah M. our Summer Science and Outreach Coordinator, showing the students how pollution gets into the watershed.

We were able to make it to the Westlock County event on June 4, held in Rainbow Park, just east of the town of Westlock. We had a blast with the more than eighty Grade 5’s, who got a chance to learn about different types of non-point source and point source pollution that happen in our watershed. After they finished piling all the pollution onto the model, they simulated rain with spray bottles. When the runoff collected in the lake, none of them wanted to drink the water. A good lesson learned!

Thanks to Highway 2 Conservation for inviting us. We hope to be able to get all 3 in next year!

Environment Week Launch – Lac La Biche

Lac La Biche County celebrated caring for the environment with some Environment Week events. They kindly invited us to attend the kick-off event held at McArthur Park, June 2.

There was a live band, free burgers and snacks, games and more. We had a lot of fun talking to everyone who attended.

There was some lively discussion going on around the County’s new Environmental Reserve Bylaw. The county has drafted this by-law “to address encroachments, to supplement existing policy and to help protect our shorelines and water bodies.” It’s important for lakefront property owners to understand the rules about setbacks and to know that they are there for a reason. We support this governance action by the county and hope it can be used to improve water quality at the lake.

Discover Your River – Hinton

After our successful AGM in Hinton on May 25, we found ourselves back in the foothills on June 8 for the “Discover Your River” event. This event, organized by the Athabasca River Voyageur Canoe Brigade Society, in partnership with Yellowhead County, the Town of Hinton, and many other community members, was a celebration of the construction of a new access trail and staging area at Solomon Creek, about 17km west of Hinton.

Solomon Creek Paddle Craft staging area
Approximately 30 paddle craft joined the flotilla
AWC Directors Dan Moore (Alberta Forest Products Association) and Lavone Olson (Councillor for Yellowhead County)

Paddlers of all ages and styles, including two AWC Directors, showed up to take the inaugural float down the river to the newly installed floating dock at Hinton’s Athabasca Riverfront Park. When the paddlers arrived they were greeted with food and festivities. We had our tent set up and had some great chats with the folks present.

“So, can we talk watershed?”

Thanks to the ARVCBC for inviting us and for working to get more folks on the river. We know that the more people experience the river first hand, the more likely they are to want to protect it.

If you look close, you can see the beaver!

While we were in Hinton, we had a chance to visit the Beaver Boardwalk and had a close encounter with some busy friends!

View more photos on Facebook

Water Science Day – Fort McMurray

On June 12 we got to hang out with some more Grade 5 students, from Ecole St. Paul, for a Water Science day. We gathered the kids down at Lion’s Park for 3 stations of interactive learning and fun.

Thanks for the fun day Ecole St. Paul Grade 5’s!

We did our Watershed pollution model, which is always a hit, a nature walk where the students were asked to identify various indigenous species and an activity to help them recognize some invasive species.

Even though it ended up being quite a hot day, the Grade 5’s pushed through, learned a lot about water and the watershed and had a lot of fun.

LEPA AGM – Lac La Nonne

On Saturday, June 15, we headed out to Rich Valley Hall for the Lac La Nonne Enhancement & Protection Association’s 2019 AGM.

LEPA has had a very successful 2018, including a new website, a new educational display at Klondike Park and some good fundraising. Their annual Regatta is coming up on June 29th. Lots of family fun at the lake to be had.

New educational centre at Klondike Park, Lac La Nonne

Another success for LEPA this year was the release of their lakeshore assessment carried out by Nature Alberta, as part of the Living By Water program. Each lakefront property was visually assessed and a written report was delivered to property owners.

The majority of lakefront properties were classified as “Ornamental”, meaning that the natural vegetation had been removed and replaced with lawn and non-native vegetation. This provides the lakefront owners of Lac La Nonne the opportunity to do some restoration work to help improve the riparian areas of the lake and therefore, improve the water quality. Nature Alberta is offering a cost-share program for these property owners to help fund their lakefront restorations. We’re excited to see the results!

Invite Us To Your Event, AGM or Science Day

If you are an organization or school in our watershed and you would like us to attend your water-related event, trade show, workshop, AGM or science day, please let us know. We love coming out to educate folks about our amazing watershed and how they can help restore and protect it. Please contact Executive Director Janet Pomeroy (780-0343), Communications Specialist Lisa Allan (780-213-4389), Science and Outreach Coordinator Sarah MacDonald (780-213-4389) or email admin@awc-wpac.ca to book us or for more information.

Our Watershed. Our Responsibility.