This year, Albertans watched the ‘Battle of Alberta’ between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers with bated breath. Spoiler alert: the Oilers were victorious. The 2022 Red Deer River Watershed Alliance Annual General Meeting held on June 15th, coincided with the Stanley Cup playoffs and focused on the other Battle of Alberta – the fight against aquatic invasive species.

Over the last few years, many jurisdictions across Canada have been grappling with the financial and environmental impacts of aquatic invasive species such as Zebra and Quagga mussels, Prussian carp, flowering rush, Eurasian milfoil, the Chinese Mystery Snail and other exotic invaders that pose a threat to our lakes, rivers, native fish and other aquatic species. Learning more about how to prevent and take action against aquatic invasive species is a topic that many RDRWA members have expressed interest in learning more about. 

The Alliance was pleased to welcome Cindy Sawchuk, Operations Lead for the Alberta K9 Conservation Program with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) as our keynote speaker. Cindy gave an overview of aquatic invasive species in Canada and shared examples of the work being done to detect and prevent aquatic and other invasive species in Alberta thanks to the specially trained detection dogs who have a knack for sniffing out invasive species. In one video Sawchuk showed, her canine partner and AIS detection dog Hilo, was able to detect a tiny zebra mussel the size of a grain of rice hidden among the rocks on a beach! 

A huge thank you to Cindy, who did a wonderful job of highlighting the incredible efforts of the dogs and handlers that are part of the Alberta K9 Conservation Program, and raising awareness of provincial initiatives such as Clean, Drain, Dry Your Boat. We all have a role to play in protecting our waters from invasive species! 

The keynote presentation was followed by the RDRWA Annual General Meeting and Board of Directors elections. Thank you to all our members who attended the AGM and ensured we had quorum and voted in our AGM Board Elections. 

A special mention goes out to 3 board members that left the board in 2021-2022. Thank-you for your service and your contributions to the RDRWA.

  • Ashley Patterson – Red Deer Native Friendship Society
  • Tjarda Barratt – Alberta Wilderness Association 
  • Dianne Wyntjes – City of Red Deer 

The RDRWA would like to extend a warm welcome to our newly elected Directors for 2021-2022:

  • Kramer Barnstable – City of Red Deer

And welcome back to our current board members: 

  • Adam Minke – Individual
  • Kent Dyck – NOVA Chemicals
  • Mike Iwanyshyn – Natural Resources Conservation Board
  • Robert (Bob) Mills – Independent

They join our 17-member Board of Directors. We look forward to the wealth of knowledge and expertise you will all bring to the work of the RDRWA!

The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance is proud of the work we have done in 2021-2022 to build awareness and engage with local communities and citizens around water and land issues in central Alberta. For those of you that were unable to attend our AGM, you can view the recording of the keynote presentation and Annual General Meeting business here. And be sure to check out our digital edition of the 2021-2022 RDRWA Annual Report  to learn more about what we’ve been up to this year.

We have an exciting 2022-23 planned as we begin work on our newest Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program project to map riparian intactness and condition in the Rosebud, Raven and Michichi sub-watersheds. We are also planning to host two community planting days this fall to support on-the-ground riparian restoration work. And we are putting the finishing touches on two new educational videos on riparian areas and native trout.

Please be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter or follow us on social media to receive all the latest details about our upcoming events. Stay tuned for details of our upcoming events, taking place this fall!