Building a resilient community

Kate Lovsin,
Watershed Coordinator,
Big Lakes County ALUS Coordinator,
Lesser Slave Watershed Council.

The Lesser Slave Watershed Council (LSWC) is proud to support landowners in the Lesser Slave Watershed!

The watershed spans from Swan Hills to just west of the town of High Prairie to the Athabasca River. Our organization is one of 11 core watershed planning and advisory councils (WPACs) from across Alberta, and it is one of the smallest.

But just because we are small does not mean we do not have a big impact! One of our biggest community supports is the work we do with landowners.

Back in 2014, the province announced the Watershed Restoration and Resiliency Program (WRRP). With that program, the LSWC has been able to support 18 projects across the watershed. These projects aim to improve the natural function of the land and to make our area more resilient to extreme weather like droughts and floods.

Some examples of these projects include restricting livestock’s access to water, restoring or rejuvenating riparian areas and wetlands, projects that reduce erosion, and more. The projects are partnerships with local landowners and are funded on a cost-share basis.

Since the inception of WRRP, the LSWC has supported 16 landowners with 18 projects. Across all these projects, we have protected, rehabilitated, and restored 568.7 acres of land from our local watershed.

Working to improve and protect marginal lands like these projects have many benefits, not just environmentally, but to your bottom line too. The best example of a project benefiting an operation’s bottom line are the projects that restrict access to water. These projects protect water quality and provide livestock with a fresh drinking water supply, which reduces costs for things like lost animals, treating foot rot and helps the animals put on more weight quicker. Restricting access also creates habitat for other species and increases biodiversity on the land and in the water.

Plus, there is increased water storage capacity during wet years!

The LSWC is always looking for interested landowners to partner with to improve both the function of their land and the overall health of the watershed. We help support landowners through the different grant opportunities they may qualify for, as well as share costs on eligible projects. The full extent of the partnership is up to the landowner and projects are landowner driven. Programs are open to all kinds of landowners in the watershed, not just producers.

Interested in partnering with us to improve our community? Do you know someone who should come talk to us? Contact Meghan Payne at (780) 523-9800 or by email at! We are happy to discuss opportunities and help you determine what will be the best fit for you and your operation.

Improving the natural function of the Lesser Slave Watershed is our top priority and projects like these benefit us all! Watershed management is a shared responsibility. Let’s work together to make sure our lakes and rivers stay healthy to support our communities and biodiversity long into the future.

Photos courtesy of Lesser Slave Watershed Council staff!

Big Lakes County agriculture department staff and watershed council staff plant trees and shrubs and willows in the riparian area at a project site. Left-right are ag fieldman Dylan Fath, Watershed Council coordinator Kate Lovsin, and agricultural labourer Amara Drefs.
A solar watering system being used by cattle immediately after installation

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