Update - RDRWA's Fall Forum

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The town of Didsbury made us very welcome for our fall Forum on November 13, with greetings from Joyce McCoy, Deputy Mayor, Town of Didsbury and Ken Heck, Mountain View County. This was a great event, made even better by a strong turnout of around 50 people from 11 municipalities and 15 organizations, with lots of lively discussion and shared information.
 
Jennifer Janzen of Alberta Tomorrow led a presentation about the past, present and future of the watershed, sharing information on Alberta Tomorrow’s online tool for schools. Dr Jason Kerr gave us an update from AEMERA in terms of water quality research, monitoring and reporting. The presentation was very optimistic in terms of new water monitoring stations and new ways to share the information. Doug Gibson of the Western Canada Spill Services gave a background to the organization, an overview of the equipment used in a spill and what response one may expect after a spill. He brought the ‘Spill Response Unit along with him for participants to see, and ask questions about the equipment used. Holly Duval presented on the role of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation in helping animals back into the wild, especially after an oil spill, and Joanna Skrajny presented on the role of the Alberta Wilderness Association in protecting natural areas and Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the watershed.
 
During lunch Jean Bota, RDRWA Chair and Jeff Hanger, Executive Director cut the “Ten Year Anniversary cake. This was followed by the presentation of an Ambassador Award to Leslie Lovell who had worked for the County on protecting environmentally sensitive areas, and had volunteered with the Little Red Deer River Society on a number of initiatives.
 
Jim Lougheed led a panel discussion on Agriculture’s role in watershed management, including: Doug Robertson (cattle farmer); Diana Bingham (Alberta Ag, Growing Forward funding program); Doug Sawyer (Alberta Beef and RDRWA), and Trevor Christian (cattle / grain farmer). The panel was followed with quite a discussion about the adoption of beneficial management practices, changes in the market, and current legislation in terms of wetland protection.
 
RDRWA staff gave an update on the “X-Stream Science” program (one of the first outreach programs across a number of different WPACs), the Integrated Watershed Management Plan, and the Social Lab - Project Blue Thumb.
 
The show was stolen, though, by Griffin the Hawk who came to visit us at lunchtime, courtesy of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.