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Cows and Fish boost helpful: executive director

Several riparian grazing, power fence field schools, in area including one west of Sundre on June 24

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - New funding for the Cows and Fish stewardship program should be very helpful in this district and elsewhere in Alberta, says executive director Norine Ambrose.

The program undertakes restoration work along waterways in the foothills, prairies and parklands, as well as helping host workshops, conducting riparian (related to wetlands along rivers and streams) health inventory, undertaking assessment reporting and other activities on public and private land.

Alberta Environment and Parks recently announced that Cows and Fish – formally known the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society – will be receiving $1 million in provincial funding in 2021-2022 to support projects along the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies, including in Mountain View County.

The county, area stakeholders, including landowners and ranchers, and others have worked with Cows and Fish on many projects over the years.

With the new funding being made available, Cows and Fish is encouraging more landowners and other stakeholders in this area to come forward, she said.

“Basically we are always looking for opportunities to work and partner with landowners and communities,” Ambrose told The Albertan. “If they are interested they can do a pasture walk with us or a hands-on field day. There are opportunities if people are interested and we would be happy to set up those kinds of things.

“We would love landowners to contact us, but also we are encouraging people to work at a community level. Local stewardship groups, local watershed groups can be formed and we can work with them. We are always looking for those opportunities to encourage communities to work together.”

Anyone interested in discussing possible projects with Cows and Fish can call riparian specialist Angie Quist at 1-825-365-8557 or email, she said.

The new funding will also allow Cows and Fish to do more work on some existing projects, including in this district, said Ambrose.

Cows and Fish is involved in several riparian grazing and power fence field schools in the area, including one west of Sundre on June 24.  

“We do a lot with the agricultural services board on conservation-related projects and we are always looking for more opportunities,” she said.

Jason Nixon is the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA and minister of Environment and Parks. He says the new funding for Cows and Fish will promote environmental protection in this area and elsewhere.

“Our headwaters are an important source of drinking water for many communities downstream and provide a habitat for many species,” said Nixon. “Alberta’s government is proud to partner with Cows and Fish to ensure more watershed protection projects can go ahead for Albertans and our environment. 

“Cows and Fish has a long history of working with communities, landowners and stakeholders to deliver projects that improve watershed health at a local scale.”

Ambrose echoed Nixon’s comments, calling the new funding good news.

“We are very pleased the government recognizes the value of riparian areas for protecting our headwaters, providing water security, protecting critical habitat and enhancing resiliency from drought and flood,” said Ambrose.

“This is an important opportunity to expand our work fostering riparian stewardship and improving landscape health in the Eastern Slopes to allow sustainable recreation and other uses, for all Albertans, now and into the future.”

Cows and Fish receives a $310,000 annual operational base grant from Environment and Parks, officials said.

Dan Singleton

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