What's Being Done
Ever since the Engaging Recreationists program began, our seasonal Outreach Assistants (OAs) have been out in the backcountry, talking to folks about their love of the watershed. Through surveys and public outreach at a variety of events, topics range from fishing, to information on watershed health, to changes folks are seeing over time.
Our OAs test the effectiveness of signs that encourage OHV riders to use bridges, and record observations throughout the headwaters using a customized app called Epicollect, which collects an impressive pool of data. The seasonal staff work with local stewardship groups and volunteers at weed pulls and garbage cleanups.
OWC also helps restore illegal fords (next to bridges) in the headwaters, and provides signage to educate backcountry users about the importance of restoration and native fish.
Our social media and communications outreach is a 2-way street: We support Government of Alberta messaging (e.g. Know B4 U Go, PlayCleanGo, etc), and we also provide a platform for stakeholders to share their feedback.
Over the years, there has been a perceptible shift in on-the-ground conversations - and in the media - with more of a focus on the need for responsible recreation and stewardship in order to ensure sustainable use. Thanks, everyone!
The OWC and Cows and Fish have been organizing willow harvesting and riparian restoration events along Dutch Creek in the fall. Together with volunteers, we plant willow and install fencing and signage to stabilize areas near the streambank and protect important habitat. We are pleased to report that 94% of the willows planted at the 2015 Restoration Event survived and were growing in 2016.
Recreation Advisory Committee
From late 2015 until early 2017, the OWC engaged representatives from local OHV organizations, retailers, and individual riders to form the Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC) - a group that helped inform the OWC on how to educate backcountry users on safe, appropriate, and sustainable motorized recreation. They invited OWC to speak at their events, built and decked OHV bridges over creeks, and got together to do a nature cleanup of Atlas Staging Area in 2016. In addition, the RAC worked with the OWC to provide collaborative recommendations to the Government of Alberta on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan's Land Footprint Management Plans and the Recreation Management Plans currently underway for the Porcupine Hills and the Livingstone areas.