MRRRWQSI: Habitat Restoration and Planting of Shrubs

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

The Alberta Conservation Association have conducted much of the project work of the shrub planting and the County of Warner has provided support, equipment, and labour to assist the ACA.

The Land Stewardship Centre, Watershed Stewardship Grant Program (WSG) enables valuable sponsorship opportunities for local community tree and shrub plantings along with riparian areas. The County of Warner greatly appreciates the funding afforded by the WSG grant, as 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 shorelands with desired vegetation communities provide the students and volunteers with a positive experience and letting them know they are having an impact on the land and water quality. We provide lunch, so they can experience the teamwork 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 their benefits.

Thank you, Land Stewardship Centre!

 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.

2021 WSG support

Thank you Land Stewardship Centre for providing project funding for the 2021 year. While volunteer opportunities were limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, the County of Warner was able to plant shrubs, forbs and grasses around the Milk River Ridge Reservoir. 

The funds provided support for the planting of the following 7,500 shrubs;

  • 480 caragana
  • 2,840 Buffalo berry
  • 680 Wolf willow (silverberry)
  • 1,000 Snowberry
  • 2,500 Hawthorn

In addition to these shrubs, about 40 acres were planted to indigenous grasses and forbs. 

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.
  • In 2021, 7,500 shrubs were planted in Section 9-05-19-W4M.

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.