Saturday, 01 April 2017 14:24

Milk River watershed council hosts community forum

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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The Red Creek Watershed group poses for a photo as the recipients of the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award in recognition of the outstanding conservation efforts to sustain, protect, and enhance the environment within the Milk River Watershed. The Red Creek Watershed group poses for a photo as the recipients of the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award in recognition of the outstanding conservation efforts to sustain, protect, and enhance the environment within the Milk River Watershed. Photo by William King

The Milk River Watershed Council of Canada recently connected with the community in a different way in order to gather more feedback about the work being done on the ground.


The Milk River Watershed Council of Canada (MRWCC) hosted the first annual Community Appreciation Forum March 9.
Mary Lupwayi, program co-ordinator, says the MRWCC passed a motion to restructure the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Now it will be conducted in two separate forums with one being the Community Appreciation Forum and the other, the AGM business meeting.
“The changes were introduced to accommodate the growing community involvement in the watershed activities, which led to council’s motion to present a community appreciation forum, held on a separate date from the AGM business meeting,” explains Lupwayi.
The new Community Appreciation Forum is geared to be dedicated to acknowledging and appreciating the community for its involvement and for being a good environmental steward of the Milk River watershed, as well as increasing community awareness of the council’s activities and presence within the community.
At the March 9 forum, there were interesting topics discussed and presented by multiple speakers.
“Participants were able to learn about activities that the MRWCC is working on to proactively preserve and improve the economic, social and environmental interests of the basin through effective partnerships and sound science,” says Lupwayi.
Some topics discussed at the forum included understanding the risk of chronic wasting disease within the watershed; the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program; species at risk and how ranchers are using common sense conservation to promote and conserve biodiversity; mussels and mutts; and the Alberta Conservation K-9 Program.
Lupwayi explains the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program is funded by Alberta Environment and Parks, which has afforded the community the ability to promote riparian restoration and stewardship activities.
As well, the program has provided financial incentive to landowners along the Milk River and its tributaries by implementing projects that improve riparian health and build resiliency to both flood and drought impacts within the watershed.
Following the presentations of the different topics, community awards were handed out. Those awards included the 2016 YRDs Top Hand Award, Heritage Trees Award, the Environmental Stewardship Award and the School Poster Contest.
For the school poster contest, 21 out of the 85 students who entered the competition from local schools received prizes for winning the contest.
An aspen stand found within the Kennedy Coulee Ecological Reserve received the Heritage Trees Award.
The Red Creek Watershed group was the 2017 recipient of the Environmental Stewardship Award. Lupwayi says the group received the award in recognition of the outstanding conservation efforts they do to sustain, protect and enhance the environment within the Milk River Watershed.
A supper was also prepared by Laura Balog Catering Services for those in attendance to enjoy.
A silent auction, watershed experience raffle and a 50/50, all brought in close to $3,000 of funding for the council.
“This support goes a long way to offset (the costs for) our education outreach programs and other projects that are underfunded,” adds Lupwayi.
There were 150 people in attendance at the forum and Lupwayi says they’re happy with how the event went for its first time. MRWCC officials look forward to holding it again next year.
The information discussed and the feedback from the community members at the forum will be posted on the watershed council’s website (www.mrwcc.ca).

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