Eyes on the Elbow
Vol. 2017 (4) December 2017
Studying Sedimentation to Protect Native Trout
by Ann Sullivan
Conservation biologists tend to be a grumpy bunch, according to Dave Mayhood. But with help from stewardship organizations like the Elbow River Watershed Partnership, maybe Mayhood and his colleagues will start feeling positive about changes in Alberta’s water bodies and riparian zones.
Mayhood, an aquatic ecologist and president of FWR Freshwater Research Limited, has been working to bring attention to the state of Alberta’s native Westslope Cutthroat Trout as their population declines and sedimentation of their habitat increases. He is currently researching sediment loading to several streams in the McLean Creek Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ), one of the few remaining areas with genetically pure stocks of Westslope Cutthroat Trout.
Click here to continue reading about sedimentation and native trout.
A heavily-used but undesignated (illegal) trail drains silt steeply downhill to a known cutthroat trout spawning site, Silvester Creek. In partnership with the Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Team, this trail was decommissioned by the ERWP in October 2017. Dave Mayhood photo
In 2018, the ERWP plans to work collaboratively with Shell Canada and the Alberta Westslope Cutthroat Trout Recovery Team to restore this site near Silvester Creek. Dave Mayhood photo
Canada 150 Photo Contest: And the winner is ... !
Congratulations to Dave Klepacki, winner of the ERWP's Canada 150 photo contest. Klepacki's award-winning photo, titled Autumn Sunset Elbow River
, is pictured at left. Klepacki will receive a framed print of his photo, inclusion of his photo in the 2018 ERWP calendar, and a copy of Mountains to Metropolis: The Elbow River Watershed
by Diane Coleman.
Two runners up will also receive copies of the book. The top 12 photos will be included in the 2018 ERWP calendar.
1st place Dave Klepacki
2nd Runners up are Bryan Mercer's Morning at Elbow Lake
and Eric Lloyd's photo Great Grey Owl
3rd-5th are Heinz Unger's Early Spring over Elbow River Highway 22 Bridge
, Keith Bagnall's Elbow Lake and Mount Rae
and Don Mickle's Elbow River from Powderface Ridge.
Congratulations to the top 5 and thank you to all who entered the contest. Many thanks also to Bob of Branded Visuals
for assisting with the judging and for providing the top prize together with Angelo from Art Country Canada!
Beavers - our natural river stewards
ERWP member Mary Reid attended a beaver symposium on December 7, hosted by Cows and Fish
and Miistakis Institute
. The “Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration” collaborative has been exploring the role that beavers can play in watershed restoration in Alberta. To date, the collaborative has focused its efforts on generating awareness about the role of beavers as ecosystem engineers and promoting coexistence through the demonstration and implementation of various coexistence tools.
Through this work we have identified the need to bring stakeholders together to reflect on and highlight some of the great work that has been ongoing within the field of beaver coexistence in Alberta and surrounding regions. A variety of groups—from municipalities to environmental non-governmental organizations to land owners and researchers—are doing important work to advance the use of beavers to realize watershed health. These efforts were highlighted and celebrated at the “Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration” symposium in an effort to pass on knowledge of lessons learned and new research to those working to see beavers and humans mutually benefit from coexistence.
Citizens can help monitor Calgary's riparian health
As part of The City of Calgary’s Riparian Action Program
, a 5-year Riparian Monitoring Program is currently under development. A key outcome for this program is to explore ways to involve and engage citizens in the collection of riparian health monitoring data. This type of program, known broadly as citizen science, would provide meaningful, long-term opportunities for citizens to contribute to the assessment and monitoring of riparian health in Calgary. The ERWP was identified as a key stakeholder for this citizen science workshop, so we attended and provided input.
Whirling disease threatens sustainability of Alberta's fishery
Whirling disease affects trout, including brook, bull, brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout as well as mountain whitefish and salmon. It is caused by a microscopic parasite called Myxobolus cerebralis. This parasite requires two hosts to complete its life cycle and become a threat: a healthy trout or mountain whitefish and a Tubifex worm, which is found in the sediment of water bodies.
The parasite hitches a ride on birds, bears, wading boots, boats, and fishing equipment from one body of water to another. It is then ingested by the bottom-dwelling Tubifex worm. Within the worm, the parasite transforms into an alternate form called Triactinomyon (TAM). TAMs are then released by the worm into water, where they find juicy young trout in which to burrow. Once inside the fish, TAMs attack the cartilage near the spine that can result in a blackened tail, spinal deformities, a loped nose and/or a whirling swimming pattern.
Whirling disease in Alberta was first confirmed in August 2016 at Johnston Lake in Banff National Park. Since then it has been confirmed in the Oldman and Bow River watersheds, including the lower Elbow River in Calgary.
Concerns are high for the healthy sustainability of Alberta’s world-class fishery, including the threatened Westslope Cutthroat Trout. In some fish populations, mortality rates have been as high as 90 percent. Poor spawning habitat and species susceptibility play a role in mortality rates.
Currently there is no cure or treatment for whirling disease. The best that WE ALL can do is CONTAIN AND PREVENT. This means CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY all water-contacted equipment, in situ, before moving to another water body. Never move live or dead fish or fish parts between water bodies.
Find more information on whirling disease here
or call 1-855-336-BOAT (2628).
Article contributed by the S2G+ Preservation Society. Join their stewardship network or follow them on Facebook.