Annual General Meeting (2018)

We had an excellent turnout for our 2018 AGM at Theoretically Brewing. Some highlights, below:

Elections

  • Each member of the executive was reelected:

o   Josh Markle, President

o   Andrew Beaton, Vice-President

o   Morgan Schaufele, Secretary

o   David Hrudey, Treasurer

  • Richard Burke will continue on in the role of Past President

Financials

  • David took us through 2017’s financials and we are well-positioned to continue our work for the next three years (our casino funding cycle)
  • Our 2018 to 2020 budget is tentatively set – more details to follow

Works

  • Hidden Creek

o   We have a significant amount of work scheduled this year for Hidden Creek

o   Several workdays are planned for summer and fall, which includes willow harvesting and building wattle fences – this is a great volunteer opportunity

o   Murray Dueck (Director, Hidden Creek) will also lead a hike/bike survey of Hidden in the first week of July (tentative) – this is another excellent opportunity to get boots on the ground

  • Girardi Creek: we still plan a bank restoration workday on Girardi Creek, a tributary to the Crowsnest River, at some point this spring/early summer
  • Temperature Loggers: the Chapter recently purchased 18 temperature loggers with the intent of installing and monitoring them in Pincher, Chipman, and Hidden creeks – we will need some help with this, so please let us know if you are interested

Research in conservation Scholarships

 2018 Oldman River Chapter Research in Conservation Scholarship recipients Micky Ahn (University of Lethbridge) and Teagan Holt (Lethbridge College).

2018 Oldman River Chapter Research in Conservation Scholarship recipients Micky Ahn (University of Lethbridge) and Teagan Holt (Lethbridge College).

We awarded scholarships to two individuals for their work in our watershed:

Teagan Holt from Lethbridge College received $500 for her work on profiling the transportation of aquatic invasives (Zebra and Quagga mussels) in Alberta.

Micky Ahn from the University of Lethbridge received $1000 in support of his effort to characterize the complex relationships between parasite load and host biodiversity.

Thanks to you both for your important work!

And a big thanks to our scholarship committee: John Derksen (Lethbridge College), Andreas Luek (University of Lethbridge), and Lorne Fitch (Professional Biologist)

Presentations

We were lucky to take in four presentations at our AGM:

Dominique Primeau (Lethbridge College): Tiger Trout Angling in Alberta: Results from the Black Nugget Mine Pit Creel Surveys

Micky Ahn (University of Lethbridge): Parasites and Host Biodiversity

Teagan Holt (Lethbridge College): Profiling Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Inspections

Jeremy Benson (University of Lethbridge): Westslope Cutthroat Trout Winter Habitat Distribution at a Watershed Scale in Small Mountain Streams of Southern Alberta

A big thanks to all of our presenters. For those who missed out, Jeremy Benson put together a short clip of cutties, bulls, and the occasional whitefish eeking out existence at sub-zero - watch below!

We didn't get around to discussing much of our work for 2018, including education and outreach in partnership with the Helen Schuler Nature Centre and in the classroom, work on the Burmis and Hillcrest leases on the Crowsnest river, our angler diary program, and more - stay tuned for further updates.

And we hope to see you at our next meeting: May 31, 2018, 6 - 9 PM, Theoretically Brewing.

North Central Native Trout (NCNT) Recovery Program

Trout Unlimited Canada recently released its official position on the contentious North Central Native Trout recovery program.

For some background, Dave Jensen has written a lengthy piece on the history and current state of fisheries management in the Ram system, specifically, and Alberta, in general.

When you've finished with that, make sure you speak on behalf of fisheries in our watershed, too: fill out AEP's Eastern Slopes Zone 1 (ES1) management survey here

And before you begin to draft angry letters to fisheries biologists, we are happy to share some thoughts from Lorne Fitch in his essay, "Fisheries Management - Complex, Complicated and Poorly Comprehended."

Read More

A Look to 2018

The Oldman River Chapter had a productive 2017, but the coming year promises to be even better.

As many of you know, long-time Chapter member and past-president Richard Burke was in a very serious car accident in Oregon in 2017. After a series of hospital stints, Richard is now convalescing from the comfort of his own home, and we expect to see him at Chapter meetings (and maybe even on the river) in 2018.

Our Annual General Meeting is set for Thursday, March 1st, from 6 – 9 PM, at Theoretically Brewing. In addition to lots of fish talk, we’ll conduct our elections, announce the 2018 recipients of our Research in Conservation Scholarship, and hear from last year’s winner, Jeremy Benson. Jeremy has completed his work on Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) overwintering habitat in Gold, Blairmore, and Daisy Creeks. We are excited to have Jeremy present on his research and look forward to seeing the results of his hard work.

We have a host of projects in the pipeline for 2018. The Chapter recently purchased some temperature loggers, which we plan to install and monitor in Hidden, Pincher, and Chipman Creeks. The Chapter is looking for volunteers to help with this, so please shoot us an email if you are interested.

We are working with Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) on a bank restoration project on Girardi Creek, in Crowsnest Pass. Work is scheduled for some time this spring, so let us know if you’d like to come out and help.

Also in cooperation with TUC, the Chapter will help to offer a stream rehabilitation course in the Lethbridge area at some point this year. More details will come soon, but please send us an email if you are interested in participating.

And we will continue working on our existing projects: Murray will continue to monitor Hidden Creek and look for potential projects in the area; Shane and Kevin continue to maintain and improve the Hillcrest and Burmis leases; Andrew and Josh have plans to get back into Vanessa Valgardson’s classroom at G.S. Lakie to do some tying, and they are planning a day on the leases with her students this spring; and we can look forward to another fishy story in the coulees in partnership with Helen Schuler Nature Centre. We’ll also look to involve more anglers in our Angler Diary program.

If you want to volunteer for any of these projects or simply want more information about them, please don’t hesitate to contact us at tuoldmanchapter@gmail.com. We look forward to another year of conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat in southern Alberta!

An Update on Richard

Many of you know that Richard Burke, a long time member and past president of the Oldman River Chapter, was in a very serious car accident in October. Richard suffered a broken back (two places), femur, and ribs, as well as other injuries, when a semi-truck slid into his vehicle on a winding Oregon backroad.

After spending an uncertain week in an Oregon ICU, Richard was transferred to the hospital in Lethbridge, and is now about to enter into rehab. Against all odds, Richard is already back to work with the Chapter - and even making casting motions from his hospital bed.

Richard has been an integral part of the Chapter for decades, and it is clear that our group would not be the same, if it existed at all, without his efforts.

We are thankful he is around to contribute for another few decades, wish him a quick recovery, and look forward to seeing him back out on the river.

 

Fly Tying at GS Lakie

Andrew and Josh joined Vanessa Valgardson's ELL class for a fly tying lesson. Vanessa has done a lot to make her classroom fishy and to instill in her students a deep appreciation for wild trout and the places they live. For the last couple of years, for example, Vanessa and her students have participated in the Fish in Schools (FinS) program, raising rainbow trout in a classroom aquarium.

This year, Vanessa has a group of students, relatively new to Canada, from Syria and Nepal. The Chapter aided in the purchase of six introductory tying kits, which these kids quickly put to good use - each student tied a pretty nice wooly bugger.

We'll be at Lakie a few times over the school year, casting and tying, getting these kids ready for their first trout on a fly come spring. Thanks to Vanessa and GS Lakie for having us in and to Mike Gifford at Country Pleasures Fly Fishing in Calgary, who has helped us purchase both the tying kits and some fly rods for the Chapter.

 Fly Tying at GS Lakie

Fly Tying at GS Lakie

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Hidden Creek Progress

One of our directors, Murray Dueck, along with his son Byron and Elliot Lindsay from Trout Unlimited Canada, hiked into Hidden Creek a few weeks ago to check on the state of our 2015 bioengineering project. It's looking good, but there is still some work to do. His report and a handful of photos below.

Elliot, Byron & myself hiked up Hidden Creek on Aug 30th to the stream bank rehabilitation site just up stream from the falls. 

The road in had recent quad activity on it which surprised me given that the area has been closed to OHV's since late July. There was a lot of loose dry soil on the road typically which is a concern given that large sections of the road end up draining into Hidden.

The stream was flowing clear and there was enough water for the BLTR to spawn as there are redds visible. I don't know what the normal flow rate is for Hidden at this time of year, but given that everything on the east slope is well below normal, it is likely that Hidden is also well below the average flow rate for this rime of year. The water temperature was just below 9 degrees Celsius. Elliot [Lindsay, from Trout Unlimited Canada] brought his wet suit and snorkel and surveyed about 100 m of stream to observe how many BLTR were present. He counted about 12 BLTR & 30 WSCT in that 100 m stretch.  We didn't do a redd count, but there were some redds that had been flagged, so it looked like some one had been up to survey the stream.

The planting site specifically was in relatively good condition with most of the plantings leafed out and alive. Higher up on the bank the plantings weren't doing as well (see photo) and a lower section has slumped close to the surface of the stream. It is still intact but may wash out next spring depending on how high the flows are. The "new" road around the planting site may be a small improvement, but the road should be removed. Having the road right next to the stream is definitely a problem as there are low points in the road that collect water and sediment that wash into the creek when it rains. Byron's drone footage also shows that there is a wet land above the planting site which may be the source of the springs & seasonal streams that are washing across the road lower down (between the planting site & falls). In some sections the road has captured the seasonal streams and is washing loose soil into the creek.

 

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Chipman Creek

On Saturday, August 19th, a group of volunteers from the Oldman River Chapter, Oldman Watershed Council, Pincher Creek MD, and Trout Unlimited Canada worked to reclaim an old stream crossing and restore some of the surrounding bank. On the previous day, concrete barricades were installed along an unneeded, unimproved road to prevent vehicle access to the stream. On the Saturday, volunteers planted several bushes and trees - Silverberry, Dogwood, Willow, Rose - as well as some grasses to help stabilize and reclaim the banks leading in and out of the crossing. It was a great success - pictures below:

 Barricades installed across unimproved road leading to Chipman Creek.

Barricades installed across unimproved road leading to Chipman Creek.

 The road to Chipman Creek is paved with good intentions...

The road to Chipman Creek is paved with good intentions...

 Volunteers working to restore Chipman Creek.

Volunteers working to restore Chipman Creek.

Unfortunately, the work was vandalized soon after (possibly hours after). A barricade was removed to allow vehicle access; trees, bushes, and grasses were torn up; a vehicle attempted to cross, appears to have become stuck, and had to work to get back out of the creek. Some pictures, below:

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Nothing can diminish the value of the work our volunteers did out at Chipman Creek, especially not the misdoing of an ignorant vandal(s). That said, there is some physical damage, and volunteers are on hand to make repairs. We'll keep you posted!