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Sturgeon Watershed Riparian Area Assessment
2018 | Studies/ Reports | Aquatic Health, Policy, Riparian, and Water Quality | Sturgeon

Riparian lands have substantial ecological, economic, and social value. The effective management of these habitats is a critical component in maintaining watershed health. However, because previous efforts to survey and assess riparian areas have focused on small-to-medium scales, the extent and condition of the majority of riparian areas in the province of Alberta is largely unknown.

The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, recognizing the importance of developing a geospatial method to assess riparian areas at large spatial extents, commissioned Fiera Biological Consulting to develop a remote sensing and GIS approach for inventorying and assessing riparian areas along shorelines in the Sturgeon subwatershed.

1,759 km of shoreline was assessed in the Sturgeon subwatershed, along 17 lakes, 8 named streams, and 53 unnamed streams. This represents approximately 31% of the Sturgeon River watershed shoreline.

  • 42% of that shoreline was classified as High Intactness
  • 13% of that shoreline was classified as Moderate Intactness
  • 20% of that shoreline was classified as Low Intactness
  • 25% of that shoreline was classified as Very Low Intactness

Sturgeon Watershed Riparian Assessment 

This new GIS-based approach was validated against videography-based assessments and performed well (Fiera Biological 2018b); however, Alberta Environment and Parks wanted to increase their confidence in the results of this work, and further validation of both the land cover inputs and model were required.

NSR Riparian Validation Report