What are wetlands?
Wetlands are areas saturated with water long enough to support aquatic wildlife and plants that are adapted to wet environments.
Why wetlands are important
They support our wellbeing - Rural and urban wetlands give us places to exercise, reflect, relax and connect with nature which all have proven health benefits.
They support biodiversity - In Alberta, wetlands and riparian habitats are home to 80% of our wildlife.
Filter water - Wetlands remove sediment, excess nutrients and pollutants from our water.
Moderate climate change - Plants and soil in wetlands capture and store carbon from the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen.
Recharge groundwater – Some water from the wetlands soaks into the ground and helps recharge our aquifers.
Reduce the effects of drought – Wetlands hold water during snowmelt and rain events then slowly release moisture to parched land during drier weather.
Control Flooding – During periods of high rainfall, wetlands store excess water and slowly release it downstream.
Support the Economy - Wetlands provide opportunities for tourism, bird watching, nature photography, hunting, fishing and other activities.
Strathcona County is conserving wetlands
Wetlands are a natural filter.
Did you know our drinking water comes from the North Saskatchewan River? Wetlands act as a filter for snowmelt and rain water before it enters our local creeks and the river.
Wetlands are a productive natural landscape.
Did you know wetlands are the most productive natural feature on our landscape?
The Strathcona County Wetland Conservation Policy (3.2 MB) works to ensure that no net loss of wetlands occurs in the urban and rural areas of Strathcona County. All development initiated by either a landowner or a third party -including Strathcona County- is subject to this policy.
How can you help?
- Recreate on trails and keep dogs on-leash to maintain safe habitat for birds and other wildlife.
- Place litter in a garbage can to make sure it doesn’t enter the water.
- Reduce your fertilizer and pesticide use to keep our wetlands healthy and prevent algae blooms and odours.
- Take your unused chemicals to the Broadview Enviroservice Station for proper disposal to prevent accidental releases.
- Call Strathcona County if you see any activities that could harm the plants wildlife and water.
- Don’t disturb or drain wetlands on your property.
- Provide offsite water for cattle and other livestock to drink from to prevent damage and contamination in wetlands and dugouts.
The Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society is a non-profit society that fosters the value of improvements in livestock grazing techniques and other management of riparian areas (areas where land and a river meet).
Public Lands Act
Federal Policy on Wetland on Conservation
Provincial Wetland Restoration/Compensation Guide
1. Do urban wetlands increase the number of mosquitos? Permanent link to Do urban wetlands increase the number of mosquitos?
Urban wetlands and stormwater management facilities do not produce large amounts of mosquitoes, as some may perceive. These water bodies contain large numbers of predators that eat mosquitos; such as dragon flies, birds, frogs and fish.
Mosquitoes require stagnant, warm, shallow water and do not live in open water where wind produces waves.
2. Where does the water go from here? Permanent link to Where does the water go from here?
Both urban and rural wetlands drain into a system of natural and manmade creeks, prior to entering into the North Saskatchewan River. Water is also lost through the evaporation process.
3. Why is there an oily sheen? Permanent link to Why is there an oily sheen?
Decaying plants create an oily appearance on the surface of the water. Note that oily sheens caused by decaying plants have no petroleum odour.
4. Why is there stuff floating on the wetland in the spring? Permanent link to Why is there stuff floating on the wetland in the spring?
During the spring, cold water from the top of the wetland and warm water from the bottom of the wetland switch places. During the switch, organic material from the bottom of the wetland comes to the top with the warm water.
This is a natural recycling function of wetlands and the organic matter usually sinks back down within a couple of weeks.
5. What animals live in our urban wetlands? Permanent link to What animals live in our urban wetlands?
The wetlands in Sherwood Park are home to ducks, geese, mink, long eared owls, red tail hawks, merlins, porcupine, snowshoe hares, foxes, coyotes, song birds, pelicans and more.