Wheeling Through the Watershed Highlights

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On August 23rd, we hosted our first Cycling Learning Journey: Wheeling through the Watershed.

This event sought to celebrate Water Quality Awareness month by focusing on citizen involvement in water quality issues. Despite some challenging air quality (AQHI 10+), we had several participants join in the fun as we cycled along the Trans Canada Trail through Blackfalds and over to Lacombe Lake.

This inaugural event included presentations from a variety of community partners involved in projects surrounding citizen involvement in watershed health. The day started with a presentation from the City of Red Deer regarding the proposed development surrounding Hazlette Lake and the wide citizen review that was undertaken. This project engaged residents through open houses, information on the City’s website as well as mailed out information packages to adjacent landowners. We cycled past the proposed development area toward our second stop of the day.

Noel St. Jean from Agri-forestry Woodlot Extension Society (AWES) met us at the Blindman Bridge for a presentation surrounding the Blindman River Restoration project. Through partnerships, ranging from private landowners to community groups, AWES works to restore riparian areas along the Blindman River.

The Trans Canada Trail connected the journey from the Blindman Bridge to Lacombe Lake, but not without a stop at some beautiful wetlands. We took a few minutes to stop and chat about the benefits and value of wetlands in our ecosystem with a talk led by one of our board members, Phil Boehme of Alberta Environment and Parks.

We continued on to Lacombe Lake on the Trans Canada Trail and were met by Anto Davis, a member of the Lacombe Lake Watershed Stewardship Group. This was a great opportunity to walk along the boardwalk and hear about the advocacy efforts and water monitoring initiatives taken on by the group; highlighting transboundary watershed issues.

Our final stop focused on a different part of water quality awareness: the importance of community. To be able to care for the health of our watershed, we need a strong community to work together and invest in our shared home. After the Grind, a social enterprise coffee shop exemplifies their commitment to community with 100% of their profits going to charitable organizations and more than half of those funds directly benefit the local community. Over High Tea, we discussed the role After the Grind plays in the town of Blackfalds while sipping on Fair Trade organic tea/ coffee and snacking on sandwiches with locally sourced ingredients. The stop at After the Grind tied together many of the pieces of the bike tour.

This event was only possible with the help of our collaborators, Pursuit Adventures. JP Fortin and his team were valuable in the careful planning for the route as well as leading us on the day. Thank you, JP and Zach!

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