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Jumping Pound Creek healthy: biologist

Rocky View County councillors heard that 604 square kilometres of the Jumping Pound Creek watershed is in generally good health, Oct. 12.

Rocky View County councillors heard that 604 square kilometres of the Jumping Pound Creek watershed is in generally good health, Oct. 12.

The Jumping Pound Creek Watershed Partnership (JCWP) presented its preliminary findings on the state of the watershed, which includes riparian areas, waterways, rangeland and public lands located in Rocky View County, the Municipal District of Bighorn, Kananaskis and the Stoney Nation.

“I would say it is pretty healthy,” said Sandi Riemersma, an environmental biologist. “The riparian areas are fairly healthy…water quality is fairly good.”

Riemersma said she wasn’t surprised at the findings, as population in the watershed is low, access is limited and a large portion of it is public land.

The study is being conducted by the JCWP in an effort to develop the Jumping Pound Creek Watershed Management Plan, a document that will provide recommendations and best management practices to maintain long-term watershed health.

“Our big goal is to try to give people some reference and education on where our watershed is at right now,” said Billy Oulton, JCWP steering committee member. “The way we see our goal and operation is to try to sustain and preserve the land for future generations.”

The JCWP was formed in 2007 when the community group, Ranchers of the Jumping Pound, held open houses to bring together those active.

The organization recently completed both a State of the Watershed report and the study Balancing Water Supply in the Jumpingpound Creek Watershed.

Findings from those studies are being used to develop draft targets and thresholds in its management plan.

Oulton is hopeful the information will aid policy makers in future decisions.

“Realistically, there isn’t any plan for preserving farmland, people are flying by the seat of the pants,” said Oulton. “Maybe some of the people would take it into (account) into some of the future planning and development.”

The study included the quality and quantity of water in the watershed, the flow of ground water in the creek, riparian areas, cropland and vegetation in the area.

Preliminary findings showed that the area is fairly healthy, although there are several concerns.

“Current tools tend to focus on individual parcels and don’t necessarily focus on the greater watershed area,” said Riemersma.

“I think that is one of the purposes of the watershed plan, to provide a broader perspective.”

Riemersma said development should be focused in areas that have already been developed or where infrastructure is already existing to maintain the overall health of the area and avoid sensitive land.

Stormwater best management practices should also be used in future development, according to Riemersma.

“The intent is not to stop growth and development but to work within the needs of the watershed,” said Riemersma.

Reeve Lois Habberfield said the report was interesting, but raised several questions.

“I hope this plan will protect the area,” said Habberfield.

“It does put pressure on other parts of Rocky View to (host) the number of people predicted by the Calgary Regional Partnership. Where should people live in Rocky View and where should we keep it pristine and natural?”

Oulton said that although the JCWP would generally like to see land use remain predominantly agricultural, the plan doesn’t try to dictate whether the area is or is not developed.

“It is just showing the impacts of what might happen if we do,” said Oulton.

“What we are trying to do is to…actually help them out and maybe influence them to make some good decisions. Everyone seems gung ho to preserve the land until they need cash, and then they want development. However, they shouldn’t jeopardize the health of the water and the land for financial gain.”

Airdrie Today Staff

About the Author: Airdrie Today Staff

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