Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration

 

Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration

A collaborative multi-year project that is focused on facilitating coexistence with beavers so their benefits as a watershed resiliency and restoration tool are realized.

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities coexist with beavers for their watershed benefits?

The Project

Beavers, Canada’s national animal, provide many valuable ecosystem services including storage of water during droughts and flooding, creation of habitat for a variety of species, and improvement of water quality. These benefits allow for the increased watershed resiliency and restoration across the landscape. Land owners, including municipalities, can come into conflict with beavers as they can cause damage by flooding roads, plugging culverts or taking down prized trees, which can result in the removal of beavers from the landscape.

This project is a partnership between the Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society and aims to increase the coexistence of humans and beavers. By engaging with land owners and land managers this project strives to decrease conflict with beavers, foster social tolerance, and heighten understanding of the benefits that beavers provide us and the ecosystem as a whole. The project aims to achieve these goals by researching new coexistence tools, hosting hands-on coexistence workshops, and creating information materials and videos to increase awareness.

Below is a selection of resources specific to municipalities.


Webinar: Understanding Beavers as a Natural Infrastructure Solution

Slide Deck: Understanding Beavers as a Natural Infrastructure Solution

Beaver Coexistence Tools

Cost Benefit Analysis of Beaver Coexistence Tools

Putting Beavers to Work Website

Coexisting with Beavers Part 1: Municipal District of Foothills

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society

Status

Began in 2012

2012 – on-going

Supporters

Alberta Environment and Parks’ Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP)

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Past funders

Municipal Environmental Purpose

 

Municipal Environmental Purpose

A white paper to catalyze discussion on the new municipal purpose ‘to foster the well-being of the environment’, introduced in Alberta’s revised Municipal Government Act of 2017

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities consider the revised Municipal Government Act’s (2017) added a new purpose for municipalities: to foster the well-being of the environment?

The Project

The well-being of Alberta’s natural environment is heavily dependent on decisions made at the municipal level. The overhaul of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) recognized this with a new purpose for municipalities: “ to foster the well-being of the environment.” However, there was no accompanying policy direction as had been the case with other revised elements of the Act.

Since that time, several municipalities have begun trying to interpret this new purpose in varied ways, risking the creation of isolated and inconsistent approaches. This paper is intended to be an initial step to better understanding the implications of this significant change in the MGA.

While the literature offers little insight into the concept of “well-being of the environment”, there was clearly an intent behind this phrasing, so it is therefore worthwhile understanding the three critical elements – foster, well-being, and environment – informed by definitions, common usage, and associated legislation.

It is significant that the inclusion of ‘well-being of the environment’ in the Municipal Government Act was codified as a municipal purpose inserted immediately after the “good government” purpose, suggesting it should be interpreted more pervasively than the specific ‘service, facility, safety, and viability’ purposes.

Even with definitional clarity, municipalities are still challenged with understanding how decision-making processes would be affected. The authors suggest a common set of process characteristics be clearly reflected in municipal policy or decision rationale: Due Consideration, ‘Two Roads’ Assessment, Proactive Approach, Measured and Evaluated, and Liability Mitigation. Undertaking this approach would have the benefits of reinforcing current efforts, supporting regulatory alignment, enabling innovation, and increasing clarity and accountability.

Recognizing it would not be possible to comprehensively describe all discrete decision making circumstances, but that greater direction is needed, the authors suggest ‘categories’ based on the wellbeing of the environment powers in the Big City Charters.

Implementation of the well-being of the environment purpose will need to be embedded in municipal governance and regulatory frameworks, including bylaws, plans, policies, strategies, and measurements, with tool choice dependent on the specific environmental application or media.

More work is now needed to clarify the environmental decision-making areas affected (or created) by this new purpose, and to offer pragmatic direction for municipalities with regard to implementation. That work prerequires a broader conversation amongst municipalities to come to some consensus, and high level policy direction from Municipal Affairs.


BRIEF: ‘TO FOSTER THE WELL-BEING OF
THE ENVIRONMENT’:
INTERPRETING ALBERTA
MUNICIPALITIES’ NEW PURPOSE

‘TO FOSTER THE WELL-BEING OF
THE ENVIRONMENT’:
INTERPRETING ALBERTA
MUNICIPALITIES’ NEW PURPOSE

 

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2019

Supporters

The Miistakis Institute

Municipal EcoToolkit: Tools for Maintaining your Natural Systems

 

Municipal EcoToolkit: Tools for Maintaining your Natural Systems

A resource for Alberta municipalities seeking to maintain their natural infrastructure systems

The Issue / Idea

How can a municipality maintain their natural infrastructure?

The Project

The Municipal EcoToolkit was created by the Miistakis Institute as a resource for Alberta municipalities seeking to maintain their natural infrastructure systems. It is not intended to be a prescriptive statement on what must be done. It is intended to help generate awareness, creativity, collaboration, and questions, and assist those people doing the challenging work of maintaining our natural systems.

To make this toolkit, we focused in such things as law/bylaws, policy directives, inventories or datasets, protective designations, maps, management constraints, proactive strategies, staff positions, guidelines, legal designations, education/communication resources, workshops, case studies, financial analyses, technologies, restorative actions, etc., etc. ..!


Municipal EcoToolkit Website

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This research  was completed in

2020

Supporters

Alberta Innovates

Environmental Law Centre

Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership

Engaging with Local Governments for Conservation and Stewardship

 

Engaging with Local Governments for Conservation and Stewardship

Insights on how stewardship groups and WPACs can collaborate with municipalities

The Issue / Idea

How can stewardship groups and WPACs collaborate with municipalities?

The Project

Between 2012 and 2013 the Land Stewardship Centre hosted Stewards in Motion: Connecting with municipalities to advance grassroots change. The Miistakis Institute was asked to be the keynote speaker at these events, and travelled across Alberta presenting on the reason for and path towards stewardship groups working with municipalities to advance conservation.


Engaging with Local Governments for Conservation and Stewardship: Slide Deck

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Stewards in Motion regional events occurred in

2012-2013

Supporters

Land Stewardship Centre

Alberta Ecotrust

Community Visioning – Priddis Millarville Residents Association

 

Community Visioning – Priddis Millarville Residents Association

Communities can struggle to see their vision for the future reflected in local government decisions, largely because it is difficult to articulate. One way to craft this vision is through a facilitated community workshop.

The Issue / Idea

The Priddis Millarville Residents Association (PMRA) needed to articulate a comprehensive vision for their community that they could use to communicate with their municipal council.

The Project

Situated in the scenic foothills of Alberta, and directly south of the city of Calgary, the Priddis Millarville area is experiencing tremendous growth pressure, and has seen an accelerated rate of change over the last several years. This has translated into a more rapid pace of activity, but challenges in understanding what the community is progressing towards, and what are desirable versus undesirable changes.

In this light, the Priddis Millarville Residents Association (PMRA) approached the Miistakis Institute to facilitate a meeting with the local community to articulate the character of the community as they hope to see it 30-50 years (two generations) from now.

The report below presents the results of that visioning exercise, identifying some initial value-based and collective elements of how the community views itself in the future. Although this report is not intended to be a blue print to the future, it does propose further steps (Recommendations) to be taken to create a shared vision for the community amongst the residents of the Priddis Millarville area.


Report: Developing a Community Vision for the Priddis-Millarville Area

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This report was released in

2007

Supporters

Priddis Millarville Residents Association

Climate Resilience for Local Communities

 

Climate Resilience for Local Communities

The Adapt-action Web Tool

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities adapt to a changing climate? How can they become more climate resilient?

The Project

After extensive research to determine the best way to help municipalities, the Adapt-action tool was created – a web-based decision-support tool for municipalities seeking guidance in taking action regarding climate change adaptation.

Adapt-action guides you through the climate change issues of adapting to water scarcity and adapting to flooding. Each is outlined from the environmental changes you will see, to the implications for your community, through to the strategies you can employ to adapt and become more climate resilient.

As you navigate through each issue narrative, you will be able to view and collect information about: predicted climate change impacts and their effects; implications of these impacts on agriculture, health, recreation, infrastructure and biodiversity in your community; and what your municipality can do to prepare and adapt to these expected changes.

The research and tool development were undertaken as part of ABMI’s Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project


Adapt-action Web Site

Adapt-action Overview

Research Reports – Year 1

Possible Tools for Local Adaptation
Proposed Action Plan Approach

Research Reports – Year 2

Review of Municipal Policies
Downscaling Climate Data
Communications Strategy
Action Plan Process Review
Environmental Changes and Implications

Research Reports – Year 3

Ecosystem-based Adaptation
Navigating with Narratives
Blueprint for Engagement
Groundwork: Assumptions and Bases

 

(Did we miss something important? Let us know!)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This was a multi-pronged research project begun in 2012, culminating in the release of Adapt-action in

April 2014

Supporters

ABMI Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project

Climate Change Emissions and Management Corporation

Edmonton Community Foundation

Intact Insurance

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

 

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

A series of assessments to determine the sources of human-bear conflict in specific Alberta communities.

The Issue / Idea

Can municipalities better plan for reducing conflict with bears by assessing their attractants and hazards?

The Project

As the urban and rural footprint and associated human activity in Alberta continues to increase so does the potential for human-bear interactions and conflicts. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) has developed the Alberta Bear-Smart Program (ABSP) as a province-wide initiative with the goal of reducing human-bear conflicts. The potential benefits of a successfully implemented ABSP include increased human safety, reduced bear mortalities and relocations and enhanced habitat security for bears.

The Bear Smart Program is a community driven process that is usually initiated with the development of a bear hazard assessment for the region of concern. A bear hazard report identifies historical and existing locations and practices that have led to human bear conflicts. These report identify gaps in the existing knowledge base in relation to bear-human conflicts and provides recommendations for reducing existing and potential conflict in the region of interest.

Three separate Bear Hazard Assessments were completed: Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass (2006), Fort McMurray Urban Service Area (2008), and the Smoky Region of Alberta (2011).


Smoky Region

Fort McMurry

Crowsnest Pass

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

These assessments were conducted in

2006, 2008, and 2011

Supporters

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division

Conservation Easement Guide for Municipalities

 

A Conservation Easement Guide for Municipalities

A practical how-to guide for municipalities considering holding conservation easements or establishing a conservation easement program

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities are eligible holders of conservation easements, but have very little information on how – and why – municipalities might go about using this tool.

The Project

To respond to the issue, the Miistakis Institute developed a ‘How To’ guide that informs municipalities about what conservation easements are, the municipal considerations for using this tool, details on what a conservation easement includes, and direction on how to create and administer a conservation easement program. The guide also comes with several Alberta-based resources and templates.

The sections of the guide are:

  • The Basics (What is a conservation easement?)
  • Conservation Easements and Municipalities (policy, planning, financial, and special considerations
  • Administration (preparing, creating, and stewarding a conservation easement and/or program)

Municipal Conservation Easement Guide

Municipal Conservation Easement Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet 1
10 Things Municipalities Should Know About CEs
Fact Sheet 2
Comparison of 3 Municipal Conservation Tools
Fact Sheet 3
Conservation Easement Sequence of Events
Fact Sheet 4
Overview of a Municipality’s Potential Costs Related to CEs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Municipal Conservation Easement Program Resources

(Click on any item to go to it!)

Conservation Easement Web Resources

Templates and Drafting Resources

Example Plans and Policies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provincial Legislation

Support Organizations

(Did we miss something important? Let us know!)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This guide was released in

October 2017

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation

ALSA Tools Webinars

ALSA’s Conservation Tools for Municipalities: A Webinar Series

Informational webinars on conservation easements, transferable development credits, conservation offsets, and conservation directives

The Issue / Idea

The Alberta Land Stewardship Act has conservation and stewardship tools that could be of use to municipalities, but it is unclear how they would work for municipalities.

The Project

To respond to the issue, the Miistakis Institute organized a series of webinars on the four conservation and stewardship tools that are included in the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Experts in each of the topics were asked to present a one-hour webinar, with each followed by a moderated Q&A session.

The webinars presented were:

Conservation Easements: Tuesday January 24, 2017
Kim Good, Legacy Land Trust Society

Transfer of Development Credits: Tuesday January 31, 2017
Guy Greenaway, Miistakis Institute

Conservation Directives: Tuesday February 7, 2017
Jason Unger, Environmental Law Centre

Conservation Offsets: Tuesday February 14, 2017
Dave Poulton, Poulton Environmental Strategies Inc. & the Alberta Association for Conservation Offsets

The webinars were well-received, with approximately 50 people attending each one. The follow-up evaluations saw the content rated as Excellent (9.5%), Very Good (57%), or Good (33%), with none rating the content as Poor or Fair.

Webinar Files

Conservation Easements (slide deck, video, resource)

Transfer of Development Credits (slide deck, video, resource)

Conservation Directives (slide deck, video, resource)

Conservation Offsets (slide deck, video, resource)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

The webinars were presented in

January and February 2017

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation