Strathcona County values the biological diversity within the natural environment and is committed to conserving a healthy, connected and well managed ecological network. Our conservation goal includes restoring and rehabilitating degraded natural resources, where practical.
The goal of the Wetland Replacement Program is to replace wetlands and mitigate historical wetland losses within Strathcona County. The funds collected, as a result of lost wetlands within our jurisdiction, can now be accessed and applied to restoration and construction projects on County landscapes.
Potential project sites
For the initial phase of the Wetland Replacement Program, the focus will be wetland replacement projects on County-owned land.
The internal WRP committee has identified a list of projects on County-owned land that meet the overall intent of the Wetland Replacement Program while also providing drainage relief for the surrounding landscape and infrastructure. Education and awareness opportunities have also been identified as priorities for these project sites, including opportunities to partner with the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association.
In June 2021, Council approved four proposed project sites for site-visits and further pre-proposal work in the Wetland Replacement Program.
The County's first wetland restoration project began in Busenius Estates this past summer, with earthworks completed between August 22 and 30, 2022. Work included topsoil stripping, excavating wetland pools, construction of groundwater dams, soil spreading, seeding, and placement of woody debris. All soil material remained on-site and was spread around the excavation areas to tie back into the existing hay-land. Groundwater dams were placed at the lower edge of each wetland basin, in a step-wise fashion, which will allow water to remain in the basins longer before moving downstream. All groundwater dams have an elevation lower than the spill points into the site, ensuring that no water will back up onto neighbouring properties. The soil areas will be seeding this fall with a native wetland seed mix in the wetland areas, and a hay-land mix in the upland areas.
A wetland replacement project to restore a series of fully functioning and attractive marsh wetlands has been completed near Uncas Elementary School. Construction and planting activities were overseen by Associated Environmental Consultants. Students from the University of Alberta's Restoring and Creating Wetlands course also received hands-on experience with site selection, testing soil texture, selecting construction techniques, establishing designed hydrology and vegetation aspects, and working with heavy equipment by visiting the site during construction.
We expect the constructed wetlands will help reduce impacts related to extreme weather events (i.e., flooding and drought), improve water quality, support biodiversity, provide habitat for wildlife and species at risk, and create significant educational opportunities.
Wetlands in Strathcona County