Cumulative Effects of Land Uses in Alberta’s Southern East Slope Watersheds – Final Report

Last year, the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society (ACTWS) commissioned ALCES to complete Cumulative Effects of Land Uses and Conservation Priorities in Alberta’s Southern East Slopes. This scientific assessment was designed to assist in land use decision making and planning in the C-5 and Bow forests. This science-based assessment provides an opportunity to better understand different management scenarios and clearly show expected outcomes. By modelling the future, this report gives us an opportunity to manage the Southern East Slopes to achieve long-term conservation objectives.

The assessment used two federally listed native stream trout species (Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout) as indicators of watershed integrity. Grizzly bear habitat was examined to model impacts across the broader ecosystem. ALCES applied “Joe” modelling logically combined with their existing cumulative effects process to provide a robust method of forecasting scenarios and assessing trade-offs.

The results show cumulative effects of overlapping land uses present substantial risk to Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout in the southern east slopes, but there are still options to conserve watershed and ecosystem integrity. The study spanned 30,000 km2 of the upper Oldman and Bow basins. The assessment demonstrates that the western portion of the watersheds tend to have a higher natural capacity to support trout and have also experienced less permanent conversion to agriculture and settlement. These areas may be more cost-effective for conservation measures. Cumulative effects analysis has become a useful, pragmatic tool to provide factual knowledge and allow for making informed choices about future options.

This project represents a significant change for the ACTWS and how we operate. We look forward to discussing implications with our members. Please email your thoughts or comments on the report to our Executive Director. This report will be discussed in a webinar on Wednesday, May 13 from 12-1pm MST featuring Sarah Mulligan from ALCES and Sarah Elmeligi our Executive Director. The webinar will share project results, management recommendations, and discuss project implications for the ACTWS. Details for webinar registration and log-in will be emailed to members and subscribers before the end of April.

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