A Wetland Strategy for the North Saskatchewan River Watershed
Knowing the importance of wetlands on the landscape, we are working together with municipalities, non-profits, and the Government of Alberta to restore, conserve, and enhance wetlands within the NSR watershed.
Policies can be tough to navigate at the best of times, and so the NSWA is working with these partners to develop a strategy that will align municipal policies and plans, provide greater capacity for restoration projects and streamline the process.
The strategy will also aim to provide better wetlands data and tools for assessing the state of wetlands and for site-specific planning, and to eventually set achievable restoration and conservation targets.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
The Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta (IWMP) (2012) is one of the guiding documents for Watershed Planning Initiatives by the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance.
The IWMP outlines five Goals related to water quality, instream flows, aquatic ecology, groundwater, and land use and identifies 20 watershed Management Directions to guide actions for each goal. The IWMP identifies and outlines the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in an implementation strategy that is based on both voluntary and statutory activities.
Specifically, under Goal 3: Aquatic Ecosystem health in the NSR watershed is maintained or improved, Watershed Management Direction 3.2 is to “Maintain and restore wetlands considering their number, areal extent and function.”
Direction 3.2 of the IWMP is supported by the following recommended actions:
● Complete development and approval of the new Provincial Wetland Policy.
● Incorporate wetland mitigation, conservation and restoration guidelines, as currently administered through the Provincial Wetland Restoration/Compensation Guide (2007), into provincial regulations and municipal by-laws.
● Complete and maintain an inventory of wetlands in the NSR watershed, including drained and altered wetlands.
● Maintain and protect naturally-occurring wetlands with due consideration for social, economic and environmental factors.
● Restore drained and altered wetlands in areas where historical losses of wetlands have occurred by using voluntary, incentive-based mechanisms.
● Restore drained or altered wetlands, or create new wetlands, to compensate for current and future losses of wetlands. Restoration efforts should be implemented within the same watershed in which the losses occurred.
● Develop incentive and support programs (financial and expertise) to enable and assist landowners to retain naturally-occurring wetlands, restore drained and altered wetlands and create new wetlands on their own land.
“The partnering municipalities of the subwatershed alliances identified wetland conservation and restoration as an important aspect of watershed management that is an ongoing challenge to implement due to capacity limitations and data gaps.”
“Through … engagement sessions, strong support for a regional wetland strategy was achieved among municipal partners, with a desire to:
• Define a shared mission and vision for wetland health;
• Define wetland health objectives and targets among neighboring
• Develop more consistency between municipal policy and programs.”
“Wetland data is used for many different purposes, but most respondents [online survey] use it to identify opportunities for
wetland restoration and as a part of their development review process.”
“When asked about what the functions of a wetland strategy should achieve, the most critical functions identified were that a regional strategy would lead to more consistency between municipal policies and programs and that it would define wetland objectives and targets for wetland health among neighboring municipalities.”