A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Organizing a Stewardship Group - Two Examples

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 There are probably as many ways of organizing a community-based stewardship group as there are such partnerships in Alberta. The following case studies are given as just two examples - each community will find its own best way.

Mosquito Creek
The Lower Mosquito Creek Water Users Association is comprised of local agricultural producers and other residents with property along the creek, east of the town of Nanton, Alberta. The group was formed largely under the impetus of Diana Andrews, one of the landowners in the watershed. Andrews says she got concerned when she became aware of water quality problems in the area. "I was alarmed about the water quality in Mosquito Creek, but as one person, what can you do? I attended the public hearings on the Little Bow-Highwood Project and when the decisions calling for an 80% reduction in nutrient loading from Mosquito Creek came down, I saw it as an opportunity to pro-actively address the issues, rather than wait for problems to emerge. Two days later, I had phoned everyone on the creek, talked to them individually and got about 75% of the people out to a community meeting.

Those attending the meeting decided then and there to form a community partnership to deal with two major areas of concern - the impacts of agriculture on water quality in the creek and nutrient loading in the creek from the Town of Nanton’s sewage system. Two committees were established to investigate these issues and suggest action plans. Andrews was elected as chairperson of the water users group.

We’ve been very successful in achieving our short-term goals, because we had a crucial deadline to meet," Andrews said. "The hardest thing now, is to keep up our momentum and deal with the long-term issues. Some of our members are still very enthused, but many are burned out. We’re regrouping and analyzing our future direction.

Crowfoot Creek
In the early 1990s, the Bow River Water Quality Task Force reported its findings, showing contamination was coming from a small tributary called Crowfoot Creek. Wheatland County’s Agricultural Service Board called a meeting of residents in the Crowfoot Creek watershed to present the results of the study. "While agriculture was a factor, the results showed that impacts to our water quality were coming from every aspect of community life, including the urban sector and industry," said Jim Laslo, agricultural fieldman for the county. "We felt the key to creating a successful stewardship program would be to involve a group of people with interest and expertise, who were also representative of the whole community.

With the help of Maureen Bolen, a rural development specialist from AAFRD, people in the community identified what they felt were the major issues and opportunities. Later, resource people from the Agricultural Service Board, AAFRD and others talked about what could be done and the funding that might be available. A newsletter was published, more meetings were held, and articles about water quality were published in the local paper. More than 75 people turned up at a 1998 workshop to learn about riparian management. The idea to form the Crowfoot Creek Watershed Group came from this workshop. Laslo chaired the group until it was ready to elect its own leaders. Leaders were then elected by the group, from within the community, though advisors from government, industry and other agencies such as Ducks Unlimited worked with the partnership. Bolen helped the group members understand their roles and responsibilities and provided training in leadership skills, consensus building and group dynamics. The group also hired a professional watershed coordinator, with a background in environmental sciences, to help with implementation of the action plan they devised.

Laslo says the key to having an effective stewardship group is for the local stakeholders to take ownership of the group and get things done on their own. "Peer pressure is very effective in implementing change and increasing the adoption of better management practices


Other Documents in the Series

  Building Community Partnerships: A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship
A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Community Partnerships
A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Group Leadership
A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Organizing a Stewardship Group - Two Examples - Current Document
A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Getting Started
A Guide for Creating Effective Land and Water Stewardship: Building Community Support
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Roger Bryan.
This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
This information published to the web on March 4, 2002.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 25, 2016.