Busy Like a Beaver

Recent rural residential workshop series a hit.

Did you know? Approximately half of the Biosphere's buffer zone is designated as country residential, consisting of larger acreages designed to provide a balance between opportunities for country residential living while respecting natural and rural landscapes.

In February and March 2024, nearly 50 people participated in three community workshops as part of  the Biosphere's Rural Residential Stewardship Program, which provides support for stewardship of acreages, hobby farms and recreational properties within the Biosphere. Here's a snapshot of what was on offer in this workshop series:

Working With Beavers

Beavers and the Biosphere go hand in hand. They are an important creature that has lived in and helped shape the Beaver Hills landscape over many, many years.

This workshop was held in Strathcona County and showcased two expert speakers: Kristina Boehler from Cows & Fish and Matt Wood from Strathcona County, both biologists with tons of knowledge on coexisting with beavers. We also learned about the profound and positive impacts that this iconic species of the Beaver Hills has had on the landscape, including surface water management and wildfire prevention.

Feedback from this workshop included 100% of participants responding that they learned more about working in harmony with beavers on their property and some of them mentioned they will be looking into pond levelers, which were demonstrated at the event.

Meet the Stewards in Your Neighbourhood

For those who wanted to know how to manage their acreage, hobby farm or recreational property in a more sustainable manner, this workshop was a great opportunity to discuss best practices, get advice and learn from others who have implemented stewardship projects to conserve and protect the valuable natural assets such as air, land, water and wildlife associated with their properties.

At this workshop held in Beaver County, participants heard from and interacted with  property owners who have participated in the Biosphere's Rural Residential Stewardship Program and/or Land Stewardship Centre's Green Acreages Program. Each presenter described their goals, experiences and what they learned along the way that could be helpful to other keen acreage owners. They also shared their favourite triumph resulting from their stewardship efforts.

Feedback from this event included emails and comments that participants left feeling inspired and better prepared to take on projects on their properties and for the Biosphere to continue to offer peer learning opportunities. Participants also shared many other topics of interest for future workshops, which we are working on now.

Living With Wildlife

In this predominantly rural community, as the human population grows and visits to the region increase, encounters with the Biosphere's diverse wildlife increase as well. This workshop took place in Strathcona County and featured Kris Kendell, a biologist from the Alberta Conservation Association. Kris covered many types of wildlife, including pollinators, bats, amphibians, birds and reptiles, and their impacts on the broader ecosystem. Kris also talked about ways to support wildlife on acreage properties.

Feedback from the event included some participants saying they will apply for funding to the Rural Residential Stewardship Program to enhance habitat on their properties, to others saying they will conduct reptile surveys and others looking at ways to manage livestock watering to protect riparian areas and the many species (including garter snakes) that they support.

If you are an acreage owner within the Biosphere and you are interested in a stewardship project on your property, learn more about the Rural Residential Stewardship Program.

Have suggestions for future workshops? Let us know.