Vermilion River Watershed Alliance Open House

Dave Trew (NSWA) gives an overview of the watershed alliance.

The Vermilion River Watershed Alliance (VRWA) and North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) held an Open House at the Vermilion Regional Centre on 2 February 2017, to introduce the VRWA to those living in the watershed, and announce a landowner funding opportunity. VRWA board member David Berry (Town of Vegreville) gave the official welcome and introduced David Trew (NSWA Executive Director) who gave an overview of the NSWA and its partnership with the VRWA.  The VRWA–active over the past decade and newly incorporated as a non-profit society in 2015–is a multi-stakeholder organization with board members representing local municipalities, provincial and federal governments, non-government organizations, and other local groups like the Holden Drainage District and Vermilion River Operations Advisory Committee. The group was formed in order to help identify goals with respect to increasing the health of the watershed, as well as implement actions to achieve those goals.

Mara Erickson (NSWA) introduces a funding opportunity for landowners in the Vermilion River Watershed.

NSWA’s Extension & Stewardship Coordinator, Mara Erickson, then took to the floor to explain how local landowners can be involved with watershed health improvements through a funding opportunity granted by both the province of Alberta through its Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, and Environment & Climate Change Canada through either the EcoAction Community Program or the National Wetland Conservation Fund. Erickson explained the goals of the three grants (restoration and/or enhancement of wetlands and/or riparian areas), examples of eligible projects, and how landowners might apply. (For application information, please visit our Vermilion River Watershed Restoration & Enhancement Program (VRWREP) page)

The star of the show, however, was a film created in 2016, which featured VRWA members and landowners who participated in the VRWREP pilot. Meant to serve as an introduction to both the VRWA and the VRWREP, the film was designed to show the positives of good land stewardship, and celebrate those who are helping to improve watershed health through their everyday operational activities. Haven’t seen the film yet? Watch it here!

A major goal of the event was to have a good showing of community members, and the audience did not disappoint. Close to 60 people attended the event from locales throughout the watershed. Many voiced their own project ideas, as well as concerns they had on their land–namely, beaver management issues and flooding. Feedback like this is important to both the VRWA and NSWA, as it helps the organizations to know how to best serve their stakeholders and what issues might be prioritized in future activities or programs.

Overall, it was a successful event that garnered positive feedback and constructive ideas. One thing we learned? Next time we’ll bring more chairs!