RDRWA Releases Results Of Riparian Area Mapping Project In The Buffalo, Little Red Deer, Kneehills And Threehills Sub-WatershedS

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance (RDRWA) is pleased to release the results of a new technical study that assesses the intactness (condition) of riparian areas in the Buffalo, Little Red Deer, Kneehills and Threehills sub-watersheds.

Riparian lands have substantial ecological, economic, and social value, and as such, the effective
management of these habitats is a critical component to the maintenance of watershed health. In an effort to better manage riparian habitats within the Red Deer River watershed, the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance (RDRWA) retained Fiera Biological Consulting to assess riparian habitat using a GIS-based approach, along approximately 5,285 km of shoreline within the Buffalo, Kneehills, Little Red Deer, and Threehills sub-watersheds. These four sub-watersheds cover an area of approximately 11,754 square kilometres and are located in central Alberta, roughly between Ponoka and Airdrie.

As part of this study, approximately 4,373 km of shoreline was newly assessed, including the left and right banks of 85 watercourses and the shoreline of 47 lakes and reservoirs. For the purposes of reporting at the sub-watershed level and for summarizing results for Red Deer County, an additional 912 km of shoreline (24 watercourses and 25 lakes and reservoirs) was included from studies that have been previously completed in the study area using the same assessment method. Combined, this report summarizes results for a total of 5,285 km of shoreline, including the left and right banks of 109 watercourses and 72 lakes and reservoirs. Overall, roughly a third (33%, or 1,761 km) of the shoreline was classified as High Intactness, with an additional 26% (1,371 km) of the shoreline classified as Moderate Intactness. The remaining shoreline was classified as either Low (11%, 602 km) or Very Low (29%, 1,550 km) Intactness.

This report provides essential information to municipalities and other partners to help spatially target the conservation and restoration of riparian areas. Specifically, the report helps assess the intactness (condition) of riparian shorelines, recognizing that intact riparian areas provide protection in the face of flood and drought risks.  The report also includes data summaries for major counties within the study area.

The RDRWA will continue to work with key partners to identify potential on-the-ground projects and to raise awareness about riparian areas and other natural assets in 2022.

The RDRWA wishes to thank Fiera Biological Consulting for leading the technical phase of this project, and the Government of Alberta for funding this initiative. We also wish to thank the partners involved in this project to date, including: Red Deer County, Lacombe County, Mountain View County, Rocky View County, MD of Bighorn, Kneehill County, and Cows and Fish.

Report: Details about the methodology and results can be found in the full project report (attached)

For more information, please contact:

Josée Méthot

Executive Director, Red Deer River Watershed Alliance

Phone: 403-340-7379  E-mail: josee.methot@rdrwa.ca