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Red Deer River Watershed Alliance Background Technical Report: Wetlands, Riparian Areas, and Land Use

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O2 Planning + Design Inc. + LimnoLogic Solutions Ltd.

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance Vision

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“The Red Deer River Watershed will be healthy, dynamic and sustainable through the efforts of the entire community.�

Main Study Objectives • Background Technical Report - Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP)

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• Draft outcomes, indicators, and targets for (i) wetlands, (ii) riparian areas, (iii) land use • Recommendations for monitoring / data acquisition, research needs, and key suggested BMPs • Input from Technical Advisory Committee / Tech teams • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analyses – priority areas for watershed management

Outcomes, Indicators, and Targets: Why? • Information


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• Craft feasible monitoring and management programs • Measure progress • Gauge success and make adjustments (performance management / adaptive management)

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Wetland Functions and Services

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• Water Quality Improvement • Carbon Sequestration • Flood Reduction

• Cultural / Spiritual Values

• Drought Buffering

• Source of Raw Materials

• Groundwater Recharge

• Recreational and Scenic Values

• Biodiversity Support

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Historical Wetland Loss in the Watershed • Potential historic losses: • >60% in agricultural / prairie areas • >10% in headwaters

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• Monitoring over 1985-2001: 7% losses • Threats : agriculture, urbanization, oil/gas development, highways/infrastructure, climate change, etc.


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Wetlands as well as their functions and ecosystem services are protected, restored, or enhanced Wetlands contribute to maintaining or improving surface water quality and other watershed management objectives

No further net loss of wetland area and functions Restore lost or degraded wetlands where feasible and beneficial For ecologically significant wetland complexes, maintain or restore associated upland areas for landscape connectivity Maintain core ecological functions and services of wetlands (e.g., water storage, flood control, biodiversity support, climate regulation, etc.)

DRAFT MANAGEMENT GOALS AND OUTCOMES FOR WETLANDS Wetlands are appreciated and valued by producers, industry, government, and the public Wetlands are conserved and managed by multiple stakeholders based on a land stewardship ethic

Knowledge of wetlands is improved

Knowledge of wetlands in the watershed is enhanced, including distribution, functions, and services of wetlands and interrelationships with surrounding areas and society

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Landowners, governments, and other stakeholders are active stewards of wetland environments

Key Indicators and Targets for Wetlands Indicator Wetland Cover (%)

Targets >7.5%

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e.g., >13.6% in Medicine Sub-watershed Peatland Cover (%)

e.g., >6.0% in Upper Headwaters

Wetland Bylaws / Policies

100% of all municipalities in the watershed


e.g., 30% increase over 10 years

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Draft Targets for Wetlands: SubWatersheds

Upper Headwater s James Panther etc.

Existing Propose Wetland d Cover Wetland (%) Cover Targets (%) 8.5 >8.5 10.9 5.4

>10.9 >5.4

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Source (bottom): Red Deer River Naturalists

Riparian Area Functions and Services • Bank Stability / Erosion Control • Non-Point Source Pollution Filtration

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• Flood Mitigation • Forage Production • Biodiversity • Recreation and Aesthetics

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Riparian Health Assessment with Videography

Riparian Health Inventory (Site) (Cows and Fish)

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BASELINE SUMMARY OF ALL SITES ASSESSED IN THE RED DEER RIVER (1999-2010): - Healthy: 25% - Healthy, but with Problems: 49% - Unhealthy: 27%

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DRAFT MANAGEMENT GOALS / OUTCOMES FOR RIPARIAN AREAS Riparian ecosystems and associated Riparian areas and their related adjacent upland areas are kept intact functions and ecosystem and ecologically functional

services are protected or restored

No further net loss of riparian areas

Riparian areas contribute to maintaining or improving surface water quality and other watershed management objectives

Core ecological functions of healthy riparian lands are maintained (e.g., bank stability, water quality protection, water storage and flood mitigation, biodiversity, fish habitat support, etc.) Invasive plant species are reduced, particularly in riparian lands adjacent to watercourses and water bodies

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DRAFT MANAGEMENT GOALS / OUTCOMES FOR RIPARIAN AREAS Riparian areas are appreciated Landowners, governments, and other and valued by landowners, stakeholders are active stewards of riparian industry, and the public areas Riparian areas are conserved and managed by multiple stakeholders Knowledge of riparian areas is improved over Enhanced knowledge and understanding of: time - the distribution variable width riparian areas - functions and services of riparian areas - the importance of the composition, structure and health of upland areas adjacent to riparian areas

Key Riparian Indicators and Targets Indicator

Targets (Summary)

% Riparian Areas with Perennial Vegetation


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Riparian Health Scores from Aerial Videography

e.g., >85% in Lower Headwaters e.g., >30% “Healthy� along Medicine River

Riparian Area Bylaws / Policies

100% of municipalities


e.g., 30% increase

Riparian Workshop Attendance

Increase in number of people attending workshops

Number of Farms reporting grassed buffer strips BMP

3,600 farms report the use of grassed waterways by 2016

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WatershedBased Landscape Unit Entire Watershed Upper Headwaters Lower Headwaters Central Urbanizing Central Agricultural Dry Grasslands

% of All Riparian Areas with Perennial Vegetation (Natural + Hay or82% Pasture)

Change from Baseline Required












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Urban And Rural Development

City / Town Red Deer Calgary Chestermere Brooks Sylvan Lake Strathmore

2011 populatio n 90,207 ~57,100 14,363 13,676 12,762 12,216

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Agriculture CROPLAND DESCRIPTION Wheat Hay/Pasture* - Perennial Crops / Tame Pasture Barley Oilseeds – Canola/Rapeseed Fallow Pulses – Peas Other (Oats, Lentils, Flax, Corn, etc.) TOTAL – ALL ANNUAL CROPS TOTAL-ALL CROPS INCLUDING HAY

% of watershed 17.3% 12.4% 12.1% 10.5% 1.0% 0.5% 0.6% 42% 54%

Livestock: >2.2 million cattle in the watershed

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Industry: Oil / Gas • >130,000 oil and gas wells (80% active) • Joffre Petrochemicals site

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• Over 78,000 km of oil/gas pipelines •Major oil spills in headwaters: • 2008 • 2012

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Industry: Aggregates •>220 gravel / sand pits •Total area of 14 km2

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•Majority are close to rivers and streams • Although regulated, pose risks primarily due to TSS mobilization

Transportation / Roads

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• Impervious nature of roads • Source of contaminants: • Sediment • Oil • Heavy metals •Salts • Traffic accidents / Spills • etc.

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Parks / Protected Areas Landscape Unit

Total # Of Protected Areas

% of Landscape Unit

Upper Headwaters Lower Headwaters Central Urbanizing Central Agricultural Dry Grasslands ENTIRE RED DEER WATERSHED

17 20 9 14 4 58

28.7% 0.3% 0.8% 1.5% 0.6% 3.1%


Land uses are located and managed in ways that do not result in unacceptable impacts to water quality, water quantity and aquatic ecosystem health

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Planning, approval and management of land use and human activities in the watershed is aligned to achieve regional watershed management objectives

Public and private lands are managed with source water protection as a high priority Ecological infrastructure (including wetlands, riparian areas, alluvial aquifers, native vegetation, steep slopes) is conserved and integrated when planning and managing land uses Particular attention is paid to the headwaters and other highly sensitive areas when planning and managing land uses The RDRWA collaborates with provincial and municipal government agencies and other groups to facilitate efficient resourcing and delivery of watershed protection programs and services Cumulative effects management, risk mitigation, and integrated land management principles are applied to land management decisions Partnerships between individuals, community groups, businesses and government agencies are cultivated to achieve plan goals and objectives

DRAFT MANAGEMENT GOALS AND OUTCOMES FOR LAND USE Educational opportunities are provided to identify ways to contribute to a healthy watershed

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Knowledge of land uses and watershed functions increase over time

Watershed functions and ecological services are better understood by residents, governing agencies, First Nations and stakeholders Appropriate actions to maintain a healthy watershed environment are taken by individuals, municipalities, developers, industry, farms, etc. People recognize that a healthy economy depends on a healthy watershed Knowledge of how land uses impact the watershed is enhanced Enhanced knowledge and understanding of the key ecosystem services provided by ecological infrastructure in the watershed Knowledge of Beneficial Management Practices, resulting ecosystem response, and associated costs evolves

Land Use Indicators Natural Land Cover (%)

Surface Livestock Intensity Linear (average kg phosphorus / ha / year) Density Baseline Notes (km/km2)

Entire Watershed Upper Headwaters







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Lower Headwaters




Central Urbanizing Central Agricultural







Dry Grasslands




- If feasible, these baseline conditions should from the targets -However, the amount of P or E.coli from manure reaching surface waters are more critical indicators, which depend on BMP implementation, and the location of livestock in relation to sensitive high risk areas

Land Use Indicators (cont.) Sub-watershed

Impervious Area

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Baseline Estimate

Targets (%)







Land Use Indicators (programmaticMunicipal) • 100% of Municipalities adopt policies / plans / bylaws for:

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• Watershed conservation (ecological infrastructure, BMPs) • Minimizing permanent urban / industrial land uses • Erosion and Sediment Control • Water conservation plans • Low Impact Development

• # of LID project increase over time

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Land Use Indicators (programmatic)


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PURPOSE: Tool for focusing efforts, resources, education

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PURPOSE: Tool for focusing efforts, resources, education

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Recommendations Monitoring, Research, BMPs The report recommends: • Priorities for monitoring / data acquisition • Research needs

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• Key Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs)

Land Use: General BMPs • Avoid Developing Ecological Infrastructure • Establish new Municipal or Provincial Parks • Compliance and Enforcement

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• Apply Integrated Land Management Principles • Erosion and Sediment Control Practices • Education strategies, including focus on economic / social benefits of ecological infrastructure • Regional plans / ALSA / market- based instruments, etc

Compensation Considerations • Wetlands have compensation program (riparian areas?) • Ensure compensation if impacts are unavoidable

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• New wetlands = function of the disturbed wetlands • Mitigation bank and market • Consider size, shape, riparian buffer, etc.

Specific BMPs: Urban / Rural Development • Reduce Sprawl

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• Limit rip rap, gabions, channelization, use bioengineering • Convert industrial / commercial uses in riparian areas to open spaces over time • Develop + enforce bylaws / plans with the watershed in mind • Recreation management: • indirect (signage, education) • direct (access control, siting /design, facilities, bylaws)

Specific BMPs: Agriculture • General: •Conservation Tillage •Rotational grazing, time controlled grazing, stocking rates •Highest degree of focus on more sensitive areas

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• Avoid / restore wetlands • Riparian: •Well vegetated riparian buffers •Convert annual crops to hay •Leave crop stubble in riparian areas, or use fall cereals •Restrict livestock access (fencing, cattle nose pump, etc.)

Other Land Uses

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• Country Residential •Septic Management / Sludge Management •Oil / Gas • Erosion / Sediment Control • Emergency response / readiness • Pipeline crossing studies • Reclaim disturbances as soon as possible • Conserve / restore riparian and wetland areas • Adequate water management •Forestry •Avoid riparian areas, steep slopes •Follow CSZ-Z809 Forest Certification Standards and all provincial regulations

THANK YOU! • Questions?

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• Comments?

O2 Presentation on Wetlands, etc.  

O2 Planing + design presetnation on wetlands, riparian areas and land use for the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance

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