The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance’s Fall Forum was held at the Ellis Bird Farm near Lacombe on October 20th, 2022. We were pleased to welcome a diverse and engaged group of community members, municipal staff, elected officials, and key stakeholders to hear from five speakers who highlighted local watershed monitoring initiatives, flood hazard mapping, lake monitoring using satellite imagery and native trout recovery.

The theme of the Fall Forum was ‘Reconnecting With The Red Deer” and marked the Alliance’s first in-person event in nearly two years. The Red Deer River Watershed Alliance’s new Executive Director, Francine Forrest kicked off the Fall Forum by welcoming everyone, and sharing an update on RDRWA’s strategic vision for 2023-2024. 

Our first speaker Jane Eaket, a Water Resources Engineer with Alberta Environment and Parks, provided attendees with a brief overview of Environment and Parks’ mapping program, and profiled new flood studies across Alberta. Jane’s presentation provided an excellent overview of Alberta Environment and Parks ongoing work in the Red Deer River basin, and highlighted recent changes to current efforts to map floodways and update flood hazard maps.

Jane Eaket, Alberta Environment and Parks

Caleb Sinn, the Program Manager with the Alberta Lake Management Society provided an update on recent lake monitoring programs within the Red Deer River watershed, as part of ALMS’ LakeWatch programs. Caleb also spoke about the Alberta Lake Management Society’s new satellite-derived cyanobacteria monitoring program for Alberta lakes, which will help to provide satellite derived metrics for bloom activity and near-real-time data for lake pigment concentrations. The program will also synthesize historical satellite data to track cyanobacteria bloom trends in lakes across the province, which will aid in long term monitoring efforts. The LakeWatch summary results for 2021 are available here

ALMS’ new satellite-derived cyanobacteria monitoring program.

Ghost Watershed Alliance Society Executive Director Marina Krainer highlighted the CABiN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network) project work in the Ghost Watershed using biomonitoring of benthic invertebrates, or the small animals on the bottom of streams. Benthic invertebrates are strong indicators of water quality since the small organisms included in that group are highly sensitive to pollutants and other changes that impact aquatic ecosystem health. The data collected by the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society will augment existing information and is intended to assist public land managers and other organizations tasked with water management responsibilities to better manage water resources. 

Our final speaker, Trout Unlimited Canada’s Provincial Biologist Lesley Peterson, gave an excellent synopsis of key challenges and opportunities facing native trout populations in the Red Deer River watershed, alongside current recovery efforts taking place along the eastern slopes. Lesley also profiled the Alberta Watercourse Crossing Inventory App, which is a new tool for documenting stream crossings and supporting fish habitat remediation and conservation across the province.

RDRWA Watershed Engagement and Communications Manager Rosemarie Ferjuc provided an update on the work of the Alliance, including the RDRWA’s recently completed Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program-funded Medicine-Blindman Rivers Watershed Riparian Mapping Project, and new interactive mapping portal. Rosemarie also premiered Trout Unlimited Canada/RDRWA’s new video “Thinking Upstream: Native Trout in the Red Deer River Watershed”, which was funded by the Habitat Stewardship Program For Aquatic Species At Risk. 

To close the forum, Executive Director Francine Forrest acknowledged RDRWA employees Kelly Dodds and Rosemarie Ferjuc, who both recently celebrated milestone anniversaries with the Alliance. Kelly is celebrating her 10th year working for the Alliance, and Rosemarie recently celebrated her 5th anniversary with the RDRWA. In recognition of their efforts, RDRWA Board member Helge Nome shared a few words about Kelly and Rosemarie’s contributions to the Alliance and presented Kelly and Rosemarie with an anniversary award on behalf of the Board. 

On behalf of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, thank-you to everyone who attended our Fall Forum ‘Reconnecting With The Red Deer’. We were inspired by your thoughtful comments and questions, and look forward to connecting with you at our next event in 2023.