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Pembina River Watershed Shorelines Project

Overview:

Identified in the Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC) State of the Watershed Reports, the Pembina River Watershed is one of the highest impacted watersheds, relative to the other watersheds in the Athabasca River Watershed. Therefore, the goal of this project is to increase watershed resilience through riparian habitat assessment, education, restoration and conservation.

For the first stage of this project, the AWC retained Fiera Biological Consulting (Fiera) to complete four reports on riparian areas and the pressure on the riparian areas in the Pembina River Watershed (see reports below). These reports help the AWC to plan, manage, conserve, and restore riparian areas in this region. Fiera successfully completed this riparian assessment to about 9000 kilometers in the North Saskatchewan, Battle, Lesser Slave, Red Deer River watersheds.

The AWC is now using the GIS layers created by Fiera to conduct landowner/community outreach and complete restoration projects that will improve riparian health and public awareness where it is most needed for longterm resiliency to flood, drought, and water qualityFor the project Terms of Reference, click here.

The Pembina River Watershed is large, about 14,324 square kilometers. Its headwaters are located in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains before it flows eastward near the communities of Entwistle, SangudoBarrhead, and Westlock to join the Athabasca River near Flatbush, Alberta. The Pembina River Watershed (see map below) is composed of three smaller watersheds: the Upper (4,140 square kilometers), the Mid (6,220 square kilometers), and the Lower (3,935 square kilometers). 

Riparian lands have considerable ecological, economic, and social value. There is a need to effectively manage riparian areas. Therefore, understanding riparian habitat across the landscape is essential to improving conservation and management outcomes in the region.

To watch the AWC’s webinar about the state of riparian areas in the Pembina River Watershed, visit this page.

For more information about riparian areas please visit the Riparian Web Portal.

Goal:

“To improve flood and drought resiliency in the Pembina River Watershed through riparian area assessment, education, restoration, conservation and long-term stewardship initiatives.”

Lower Pembina River Watershed Riparian Assessment

In an effort to better understand riparian habitats in the Lower Pembina River Watershed, approximately 949 km of lake and river riparian habitat was assessed by Fiera. A total of 11 waterbodies were in the assessment, including 8 creeks and rivers and 3 lakes. Intactness was used as a measure of riparian condition because of the relationship between an intact riparian zone and function of the aquatic environment is well established.

  • 61% (583 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as High Intactness
  • 18% (172 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Moderate Intactness
  • 7% (64 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Low Intactness
  • 14 % (130 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Very Low Intactness

2012b_LowerPembina_RiparianAssessment_FINAL

To download a copy, click here.

 

Mid-Pembina River Watershed Riparian Assessment

Approximately 1,600 km of lake and river riparian habitat was assessed by Fiera. A total of 19 waterbodies were in the assessment for the Mid-Pembina River Watershed, including 12 creeks and rivers and 7 lakes. 

  • 53% (847 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as High Intactness
  • 18% (284 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Moderate Intactness
  • 9% (147 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Low Intactness
  • 20 % (323 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Very Low Intactness

2012_MidPembina_RiparianAssessment_FINAL

To download a copy, click here.

 

Upper Pembina River Watershed Riparian Assessment

Approximately 1,158 km of lake and river riparian habitat was assessed by Fiera for the Upper Pembina River Watershed riparian assessment. A total of 11 creeks and rivers were assessed. Nearly all (96%, 1,106 km) of the shoreline was classified as High Intactness. 

  • 96% (1,106 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as High Intactness
  • 2% (18 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Moderate Intactness
  • 1% (15 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Low Intactness
  • 2% (20 km) of the shoreline assessed was classified as Very Low Intactness 

2012c_UpperPembina_RiparianAssessment_FINAL (2)

To download a copy, click here

 

Summary of Results

A total of 3,708 km of shorelines were assessed in the Pembina River Watershed. This included 28 creeks, streams, and rivers, and 11 lakes. 

  • 71 % of the shoreline assessed was classified as High Intactness
  • 12 % of the shoreline assessed was classified as Moderate Intactness
  • 6 % of the shoreline assessed was classified as Low Intactness
  • 12 % of the shoreline assessed was classified as Very Low Intactness
2012d_Pembina Watersheds Riparian Assessments_Summary_FINAL (1)

To download a copy, click here

Restoration in the Pembina River Watershed

The AWC has funding available to support landowner projects in the Pembina Sub Watershed. An important focus of this program is to work with local landowners to implement on-the-ground projects that protect and improve the health of shorelines and streambanks.

We work in the following areas: 

  • Lac Ste. Anne County
  • Yellowhead County
  • County of Barrhead
  • Woodlands County
  • Parkland County
  • Westlock County
  • Athabasca County
  • M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124
  • Brazeau County

Funding can include riparian fencing, installation of livestock watering systems, tree planting, riparian health inventories and more.

 

If you would like more information, please contact:

science@awc-wpac.ca or call (780) 213-4550

We want to hear about how we can help you. 

Additional Resources

  • Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society – Are you a landowner or manager who needs tree-related assistance? AWES has extensive experience in agriculture, tree planting, horticulture, and tree health.
  • Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Brazeau County – Are you a farmer or rancher with some marginal or ecologically sensitive areas? ALUS can help you establish wetlands, native prairie, pollinator habitat and other projects on your land.
  • ALUS Lac Ste. Anne County – This initiative is a grant program where a coordinator works with farmers to complete environmental projects on private farmland.
  • ALUS Parkland – This program works with farmers and ranchers to establish ALUS projects by providing support and annual per-acre payments for the maintenance and management of these projects. 
  • Highway 2 Conservation – H2C aims to provide residents with assistance in managing these special areas for cropping, grazing and recreation purposes.
  • Lac Le Nonne Enhancement and Protection Association – LEPA is dedicated to engaging their members in projects and activities aimed at improving the lake and watershed. In addition, they strive to educate their members and the public on the importance of responsible management of our natural areas through workshops, tours and newsletters. 
  • Northern Lights Fly Fishers – This group is considered a chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada and is made up of dedicated, concerned anglers, and cold-water conservationists that meet regularly throughout the year to discuss fishing and conservation. 
  • West Central Forage Association – WCFA is a non-profit, membership based, producer driven, agricultural research and extension organization that serves forage and livestock producers in the West-central region of Alberta. 

 

This project is funded by the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program

 

 

It is financially supported by

 

 

 

 

The AWC would also like to thank its partners, landowners, and others for their in-kind support of this project.