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AWC 2021 in Review
AWC-WPAC and Friday Read | December 2021

AWC Staff From Left to Right: Ashley, Petra, Sarah

2021 was an eventful year for the Athabasca Watershed Council! Some of the big changes were in the staff: while we were sad to say good-bye to Janet and Indah, we were pleased to have Petra join us as our Executive Director in February, and Ashley as the Education and Outreach coordinator in July. Sarah MacDonald continues to provide stellar technical support as the Watershed Science Coordinator.  

Although there have been several changes in membership, the Board and its committees were active over the year with 5 board meetings and our AGM. While these had to be held virtually, we hope that 2022 will bring more in-person opportunities.  

On the education and outreach side, despite the pandemic, the AWC managed to host several Coffee Talk sessions as well as the 2021 WPAC Summit in October. Additionally, our 2022 Youth Calendar Contest was successfully completed in December, with a variety of entries from across the watershed. During the promotion of the contest, Ashley was able to do online presentations to classrooms in Hinton, Athabasca, Boyle, Smith, Fort McMurray, and Fort Assiniboine. The Youth Calendar was possible with help from the TD Friends of the Environment Grant. Some of those grant dollars will go towards a travelling watershed exhibition to be hosted by libraries across the watershed, so keep an eye out for more information on that in the new year! 

On the science side of things, the riparian intactness reports for the Pembina River Watershed Shorelines Project were all completed, and are available on our website. Alongside the reports, the data can be visualized on the riparian web portal. We had a successful webinar about that project in June, in collaboration with Fiera Biological Consulting, the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, and Highway 2 Conservation. Learn more about our work in the Pembina River Watershed here. Many thanks to project funders Alberta Environment and Park’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, along with Trans Mountain Pipeline, and Plains Midstream Canada.  

Some environmental restoration projects were started in 2021, in Lac Ste. Anne County, and in Westlock County. These projects would not be possible without our landowner partners and organizational partners from Cows and Fish, ALUS Lac Ste Anne County, and Highway 2 Conservation. Learn more about some of these projects here and here.  

AWC Staff, with the help of some of our board members, collected benthic invertebrate samples for our Upper Athabasca Watershed Biomonitoring Project at 4 sites this fall. 12 samples went to the University of Guelph for eDNA analysis, and 4 samples went to ABI Environmental for taxonomic analysis.  We focused on sampling in the McLeod River Watershed, and hope to expand our work into the Pembina River Watershed next year. Learn more about our sampling trip here. Financial support for this work was provided by Alberta Ecotrust and Alberta Conservation Association. 

This year also saw the Technical Committee make significant progress on the Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Athabasca Watershed. We hope to have that document approved by the board in the new year. A big shout out to Lac La Biche County and its partners for completing the Lac La Biche Watershed Management Plan.  

As 2021 draws to an end, we are so grateful to all of you! Thank you to all our supporters, including board and committee members, individual and organizational members, social media followers, Alberta Environment and Parks and other funders, etc. Thank you for another great year – we couldn’t have done it without you! May your holidays be bright and full of cheer! We’ll see you in 2022!