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Wetland Restoration Success

Rocky View County sits on the Nose Creek Watershed, an important water basin that passes through agricultural land, urban areas and places of industrial development. Proper care and management of this watershed will benefit Albertans and our environment both now and for future generations. Finding and restoring wetlands in Rocky View County is what a team of interdisciplinary researchers set out to accomplish when they launched a new project named Alberta’s Living Laboratories. The goals of the project were simple: discover the number of restorable and lost wetlands in the Nose Creek Watershed and qualify the value of restoring wetlands to all those living within the county. The work and lessons learned in nearly three years has been considerable.

Determining the number of historically lost and restorable wetlands is done by way of a technique called remote sensing. Remote sensing identifies low-lying areas where wetlands may have been. A restorable wetland has a drainage ditch that can be plugged. Once the ditch is plugged the wetland begins to regain the functions that wildlife and humans depend on, such as water purification. In total, about 400 restorable wetlands exist in the County of Rocky View; the restorable wetlands are located on privately held property. About 250 people in the County of Rocky View have restorable wetlands on their property and had the opportunity to participate in the program.

With the interest of encouraging landholders to restore wetlands, the research team held a reverse auction. Landholders with restorable wetlands were asked to submit a bid as a representation of the amount they wish to be paid to have a wetland restored on their property. Researchers ranked the bids that were submitted competitively amongst landholders. Participants were all paid equally the amount of the highest winning bidders submission. In total, 13 basins totaling 47.3 acres were bid into the auction and accepted for restoration. To date, 10 of these basins have been restored.

The research team would like to extend sincere thanks for the engagement and support from the landowners of Rocky View County. We hope to have continued support from landowners as we maintain community engagement. For more information, please visit RestoreOurWetlands.ca/ or contact wetlands@ualberta.ca.

Posted in: Agriculture Water & Utilities

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