For the past five years, the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance’s Watershed Engagement and Communications Manager, Rosemarie Ferjuc has been working with students in the Olds College Land and Water program to help them develop a final research project for their watershed management course. The projects are designed to encourage students to utilize the skills they have learned throughout the two-year program, and address a local watershed issue of concern. 

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance has been working on a Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program-funded project to map 1, 782 km of shoreline to assess the condition of riparian areas in the Medicine-Blindman Rivers, and the Lower Headwaters zone of the watershed. These areas are critical for local water quality, source water protection, flood attenuation, and wildlife habitat. Gaining a better understanding of the interconnectedness between these lands, waters and riparian areas will allow the RDRWA and partners to prioritize conservation and restoration efforts to improve flood and drought resilience and water quality.

Blindman River upstream of the City of Red Deer

This year, two Olds College students, Jenelle Buchanan and Quaid Muskovitch, worked with the Alliance to develop an ArcGIS Story Map to tell the story of the Blindman River, which focused on three themes: Water Quality, Water Quantity, and Land-use. In addition to conducting stakeholder interviews with conservation groups and landowners living along the Blindman River to better understand local perspectives and concerns, Jenelle and Quaid also analyzed a number of research reports, as well as water quality and land-use data sets to learn more about the historical water quality of the Blindman River. They also used their data collection skills to conduct water quality sampling in different areas along the Blindman River this spring, in order to compare current water quality characteristics with the historical data. 

Olds College student Quaid Muskovitch collecting water quality data in Bluffton.

Jenelle and Quaid did an incredible job weaving together their GIS skills, data analysis and synthesis with high level science communication messages to raise awareness of the significance of the Blindman River and the issues facing it. The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance would like to thank Jenelle and Quaid for the tremendous time and energy that they put towards this project. Our thanks also go to Olds College instructor Bob Hoffos, who co-supervised this project, and helped students navigate the often-complex data. This project is a wonderful example of collaboration in action, and we hope you enjoy the resulting Blindman River Story Map