MRRRWQSI: Habitat Restoration and Planting of Shrubs

Milk River Ridge Reservoir Water Quality Stewardship Initiative

Habitat Restoration and Planting of Shrubs

The Milk River Ridge Reservoir Water Quality Stewardship Initiative partners, have planted many shrubs around the reservoir which have improved habitat condition and encouraged the population growth of native species. Funding from conservation partners has been instrumental in establishing permanent cover on disturbed soils and on bare ground along the provincial land corridor. 

Land Stewardship Centre, Watershed Stewardship Grant Program (WSG) enables valuable sponsorship opportunities for local community tree and shrub plantings along riparian areas. The County of Warner greatly appreciates the funding afforded from the WSG grant, it allows the program to continue. 

Students and volunteers, who come from our local community, help plant trees and shrubs on the banks and along the edge of the Milk River Ridge Reservoir.  These plantings better anchor riparian areas and shore lands with desired vegetation communities provide the students and volunteers with a positive experience and let them know they are having an impact on the land and water quality. We provide lunch, so they can experience the team work of coming together for the greater good of the community, and have ownership over the projects for years to come.  Installing signs at the location of plantings let people know about the projects and the benefits of them. 

Thank you, Land Stewardship Centre!

With current COVID restrictions our updated County website offers a safe way to engage within the community, featuring awareness and knowledge of local watershed issues.   The generous program funding provided by the Watershed Stewardship Grant is described in the following section;

2018 WSG support

In 2018, on the northeast shore of the Milk River Ridge Reservoir Volunteers, and students from the Westwind School Division and volunteers were involved in our project, planting the trees, shrubs and aquatic vegetation including 2000 Caragana, 2000 Sea Buckthorn, 1900 Hawthorn, 1500 Snowberry, 1000 Wolf willow, and 500 American Cranberry. 

2019 WSG support

We engaged 90 volunteers, planting 100 trees and 3000 shrubs and monitoring the riparian areas to see if we are enhancing these areas with our plantings and monitoring the water quality within the Milk River Ridge Reservoir.

2020 WSG support

Due to COVID-19 Restrictions, we were unable to work with school groups and volunteers.  Following COVID-19 safety measures, in supervised groups of three, County staff planted 2,250 trees and shrubs on the banks and along the edges of the Milk River Ridge Reservoir.  This project builds on the momentum of past years projects.  Riparian management includes monitoring the water quality within the Milk River Reservoir.  Continued involvement of conservation partnerships, cleaning up of debris means less garbage in natural areas and enhanced riparian condition.

The annual activities are summarized in the following text;

  • 2014, The County planted 468 shrubs of species; species sandbar willow, Acute willow, and poplar. The ACA planted 1,800 shrubs of species; caragana, hawthorn, saskatoon, buffaloberry, and sea buckthorn.
  • In 2015, The County planted 249 shrubs of species; spruce, snowberry, dogwood, saskatoon, green ash, and sea buckthorn. The County in partnership with Erle Rivers High School planted 3,567 shrubs of species; cotton wood, laurel leaf willow, acute willow and sandbar willow.
  • In 2016, the County planted 3,280 shrubs of caragana and hawthorn, while ACA planted 5,800 shrubs of species; caragana, hawthorn, saskatoon, buffalo berry, and sea buckthorn.
  • In 2017, In the West Ridge Stewardship Project area, the County of Warner hosted a shrub planting day where 55 volunteers from the Raymond High School, County of Warner staff, and Alberta Conservation Association staff planted 1200 willow cuttings and 1420 rooted shrubs. Seeding of walking trails, weed spraying, and mowing were also completed throughout the West Ridge Stewardship Project.  Overall within all project areas, 8,000 shrubs were planted in 2017.
  • In 2020, 2,250 shrubs were planted around the reservoir.

The purpose of these efforts are to stabilize soils and restore the ecological integrity of the lands. The ACA also undertakes weed maintenance at established shelterbelts. These shrubs further provide essential habitat to pheasants, deer, and songbird populations which in-turn promote biodiversity of the plant community. 

Thank you to The Land Stewardship Centre for your support of the student tree planting events. Your support has promoted community education and volunteering, students greatly enjoyed participating with the tree planting events. The efforts were a memorable event for the County and High School students.