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OUR CHAPTER’S MISSION is the protection of coldwaters and their trout in the west central region of Alberta.
SINCE OUR CHAPTER’S BEGINNINGS in 1982, we have done work on the Stauffer, Clear Creek, Prairie Creek, the Blackstone, McLeod River and the Ram system. Our efforts are currently focused on the Streamwatch Program.
ALBERTA STREAM WATCH began in 2002 when members of the Central Alberta Chapter became concerned about the impact of increased outdoor recreational activities in West Central Alberta. The increased industrial development and the resulting affluence of the recreational population from the “Alberta Advantage” had led to a ten-fold increase in use of the West Country. However, Government funding for on-the-ground staff from Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) Land, Fisheries and Enforcement has not kept pace. Our specific concerns were:
|• ||Increased evidence of poaching; |
|• ||Increased sedimentation and erosion from industrial development that resulted in degradation of fish habitat; |
|• ||Loss of riparian vegetation and damage to stream beds by largely unregulated off-road vehicle use and abuse. |
The Central Alberta Chapter Stream Watch founders approached several oil and natural gas and forestry companies operating in the area to provide some funding for the program. Initial funding came from Northrock Resources, Talisman Energy, Cavern Oil, Total Combustion Inc. and, over the past four years, Petro-Canada, Shell, Suncor, Weyerhaeuser, CAPP, Canadian Natural Resources, Peyto Exploration, Grande Cache Coals, Foothills Model Forest, Wel-Can Welding and the Conservation Officers Club at Lethbridge Community College (LCC) have also contributed funds to our program. Both the Central Alberta Chapter and TUC National have also made sizeable contributions each year. Not only that, many concerned fishermen have also been supporting us with personal cheques as they learn more about what we do.
The funds we raise through the Central Alberta Chapter are used to hire two students or graduates of the LCC Conservation and Enforcement programs. These students are hired and trained by SRD to work with the Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House Conservation Officers. They carry the title of Officer Assistants and are provided with uniforms, a truck and a quad and are supervised by the area Officers. They are empowered to write tickets for fisheries and other infractions and our local program is concentrated primarily on the Blackstone and Ram river drainages. However, they also make regular patrols on other streams in the area such as the North Saskatchewan, Cline and Big Horn rivers. Their main duties include educational programs, area patrols, fisheries and highway act enforcement, signage work and creel survey data gathering on the streams they patrol.
In 2006 they made face-to-face contact with over 2000 users in the area and a third officer was added in the Grande Cache area. This year, 2007, the program has expanded again and there are now Stream Watch officers operating in Hinton, Sundre, Grande Cache as well as our usual two in the Nordegg/Rocky area.
Nothing succeeds like success and while the Central Alberta Stream Watch Program continues to be an initiative of our local chapter of TUC, the three new positions were set up with funding obtained by local Conservation Officers in their respective areas. Stream Watch seems to be an idea whose time has come and those of us who started the Central Alberta TUC program five years ago are pleased to see that our lead has been embraced by Conservation Officers as a way for them to bolster their forces during the high-use summer months so they can do more stream patrols, hand out educational pamphlets and just generally keep an eye on our fragile fisheries.Follow the conservation efforts of the Central Alberta chapter through their blog.