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Bringing Outdoor Learning to Life at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre November 21st, 2017

Posted in: General

Educators across the Southeast are going outside with their students to make real world connections to classroom learning. Barret Miller, Special Programs Interpreter at Fort Whyte Alive, spends much of his time exploring the outdoors with students and educators across Manitoba. He is part of a movement of community organizations, including FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD), and Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) that are partnering with Hanover School Division to promote opportunities for outdoor education. Teachers are keen to learn about using outdoor environments to make linkages with the school curriculum.

Barret specializes in helping educators make the most of outdoor learning opportunities. He tells a story about an experience he had while taking a group of students on a field trip to a nearby park. The group of students barely hiked 20 metres before becoming enthralled by a bluff of trees. Barret says the excited group spent over an hour exploring the bluff and discovering its wonders of life. The little bluff offered so many opportunities for teaching ecology that the group hardly had time for the rest of the hike.

Community organizations, like FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, SRRCD, and TCDC make the most of experiential learning opportunities in the great outdoors.

Kent Lewarne runs the Riverwatch program at South Central Eco Institute. Riverwatch is a program linking the classroom study of chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, and environmental issues to real world understanding of watershed health pertaining to Lake Winnipeg. Students involved in all aspects of water quality testing help collect and analyze water samples and learn about what the results mean for our watershed.

Dorthea Grégoire at SRRCD runs the Backwater Buggin’ program. The program focuses on community ecology, biological diversity, and the importance of insect communities in monitoring ecosystem and waterway health. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by collecting and analyzing bug samples to learn more about the health of our rivers and streams and the different types of insect communities that live in our waterways.

The expertise of these community organizations empower educators to bring environmental education to life at places such as the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre. The TCDC is a public space and natural environment in the RM of Hanover. It is visited by families, nature-lovers, and school groups in the Southeast. Visitors come to the TCDC to discover the diversity of plant and animal life unique to the five distinct micro-ecosystems at the centre. Students and educators using the site as an outdoor classroom experience our connectedness to nature by encountering the natural systems vital to our sustainability.

Kathryn Labiuk is one of four teachers at Steinbach Regional Secondary School who took advantage of outdoor learning opportunities at TCDC during the school’s innovation week. Kathryn says, “The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre is a great local option for allowing students to encounter the outdoors with a fresh perspective. The space provides opportunities for students to engage in cross-curricular learning in an environment that encourages group interactions.”

Educators, like Kathryn, are taking the lead on outdoor education by making real world connections to the school curriculum at TCDC. The outdoor learning potential at TCDC provides endless possibilities for experiential learning.

You can call or email the SRRCD for more information about the programs we offer or to book your TCDC visit. Visit us online at www.srrcd.ca, or at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca.

Celebrating 12 Years: The SRRCD is here to Stay August 17th, 2017

Posted in: Watershed Moments

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is celebrating an important watershed moment on August 24, 2017.

 

The SRRCD was officially awarded the Order in Council from the Province on Manitoba on August 24, 2005. Today, the SRRCD is comprised of 16 municipalities, over 7,000 square kilometers in southeast Manitoba, and a population of approximately 70,000 people. The people we work with are passionate about making a difference. They are farmers, local experts, innovators, and community leaders collaborating on watershed initiatives throughout our district.

 

The programs we deliver are built from the ground-up at the local level. An Integrated Watershed Management Plan is a cooperative community-driven planning document used to identify land and water-related issues and actions to achieve goals for key priority areas, including source water protection, surface water management, water quality protection, and riparian and aquatic ecosystem management. The SRRCD has developed IWMPs for the Seine River and Rat River watersheds, and a third plan is underway for the Roseau River watershed. We work closely with our partners and local communities to meet the goals identified in our plans.

 

The SRRCD works diligently to protect and conserve the quality and quantity of groundwater in our watershed. We have sealed 269 abandoned wells in our district and tested 4,515 private wells for the presence of coliform and E. coli bacteria. We have also transported over 1,000 private well water samples to the lab in Winnipeg on behalf of local residents on our RM Private Well Water Testing Days. Groundwater is the primary water supply for domestic, municipal, commercial, and agricultural purposes in our area. Protecting and conserving water quality is vitally important for watershed residents and the ecological health of our watershed.

 

The SRRCD has also completed 19 water retention structures and over 25 water retention studies and surveys throughout our district. Naturalized water retentions utilize the ecological functions of wetlands to slow high water flows, reduce surface water runoff from urban and semi-urban areas, and mitigate the effects of downstream flooding. The De Salaberry Crown Lands & Skyline Dairy Water Retention project is the largest water retention project implemented by the SRRCD and holds 376 acre feet of water. It is also among the first retention projects in Manitoba constructed on agriculturally leased Crown Land. We are always looking for opportunities to implement innovative sustainable surface water management solutions in the Southeast.

 

Our rain garden program is also a unique surface water management strategy for urban areas. We have implemented six (6) rain gardens in our watershed with plans for two (2) more as this program is quickly gaining momentum in urban areas. A rain garden is a bowl-shaped perennial garden that captures surface water runoff. They are typically planted in residential areas where water flows off roofs, streets, sidewalks, driveways, sump pump discharge areas, and parking lots. Surface water runoff that is unable to infiltrate into the soil may be directed into the street and can subsequently overwhelm drainage infrastructure. The perennial plants in the rain garden take up nutrients and clean the water as it absorbs into the soil. Rain gardens also create habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. They are also an innovative sustainable surface water management strategy for reducing water runoff at the property and neighbourhood scale.

 

The SRRCD was awarded Lake Winnipeg Foundation’s 2016 Alexander Bajkov Award for supporting best management practices in rural Manitoba, and as an active participant in LWF’s community-based monitoring program. We operate 20 surface water quality monitoring sites in partnership with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) Community-Based Monitoring Network. Regular water quality testing in our waterways gives us a better understanding of where nutrients are coming from and how much phosphorus is leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg. We use our water quality data to help us identify what we can do to target our programs at the watershed scale for the benefit of our local environment, including riparian areas along our waterways.

 

The SRRCD has implemented 26 riparian livestock management projects in our district. Each project we implement on the ground at the grassroots level are custom designed in partnership with local watershed residents. Our riparian livestock management programs benefit farming operations and the local area. Riparian areas refer to vegetated areas along streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The Mateychuk Winter Watering System is designed to provide a safe and reliable water source to livestock. It uses a solar powered pump to draw water from a nearby dugout. The system has already weathered several winters of use and numerous extreme cold weather events. It is a great way to limit livestock access to surface water, like rivers, streams, and dugouts. Limiting livestock access to waterways also reduces the high cost and risk of exposing livestock to herd health problems, such as water-transmitted diseases, foot rot, leg injuries, and death from cattle falling through the dugout ice while trying to access the water.

 

We have also planted over 8,000 trees to date, including willows, oak, maple, poplar, aspen, and dogwood. Our riparian tree planting programs are geared towards reducing stream bank erosion and establishing tree buffers. The SRRCD is committed to programs that enhance the ecological health of our riparian areas and we look forward to planting many more trees in the years to come.

 

Our story began with a bold vision for sustainable integrated watershed management. The SRRCD is here to stay as we continue to seek innovative new ways of engaging our watershed residents and utilizing expert local knowledge to meet the unique needs of our landscape. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Province of Manitoba and our municipal partners as we celebrate 12 years together in the Southeast.

SRRCD La Broquerie Office has Moved to 154 Friesen Avenue in Steinbach July 11th, 2017

Posted in: Watershed Moments

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is now open for business – in Steinbach! Our new head office location in Steinbach features plenty of homey space. That’s because we’ve converted a house into a fully functional modern office.

We are now located at the corner of Friesen Avenue and Brandt Street in the heart of Steinbach’s downtown central business district. This 1,328 square foot house with four offices, two bathrooms, multi-purpose meeting space, and a double car garage is an ideal fit for the needs of our growing district. Our main floor was redesigned to host our regular Board and Sub-Watershed District Committee meetings. The remodeled entrance features a warm welcome area with informational resources for visitors. There is also plenty of room in the finished basement to set up additional workstations, as well as to host district-related training seminars and events. Our two car garage doubles as a workshop for building and maintaining district projects on-site.

The SRRCD is excited to establish an urban presence in a convenient new location central to our district. We look forward to demonstrating the effectiveness of urban storm water management with future plans for developing a rain garden right here in our own backyard. Our exciting move enables opportunities for our district to establish new networks and connections as we collaborate on watershed initiatives among friends and partners around our homestyle “kitchen” table.

The SRRCD was pleased and proud to receive approval in April from the Province and all our 16 municipal partners to proceed with the purchase of 154 Friesen Avenue. Thank you for all your support in making this move possible.

Come on by to take a tour,  pick up a program application, or to find out more about your watershed. We’ll put the coffee on!

 

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

154 Friesen Avenue

Steinbach, MB, R5G 0T5

(204) 326-1030

info@srrcd.ca

www.srrcd.ca

 

Our Vita field office is open for business as always. You can visit our field office in Vita at 108 Main Street North. We can also be reached in Vita by telephone at (204) 425-7877.

Municipal Partners of the SRRCD:

RM of La Broquerie

RM of Ste. Anne

Town of Ste. Anne

RM of Reynolds

RM of Stuartburn

RM of Hanover

City of Steinbach

RM of Taché

RM of Springfield

RM of Ritchot

RM of De Salaberry

Village of St-Pierre-Jolys

RM of Montcalm

RM of Emerson-Franklin

Town of Niverville

RM of Piney

Community-Based Monitoring Results Give Meaning to Our Story: Water Monitoring Results Story Map June 2nd, 2017

Posted in: Watershed Moments

Click here to view our story map

Citizen scientists around Manitoba are working together with Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) to tell an important story about the health of our watershed. Manitoba’s community-based monitoring network is made up of volunteers collaborating on a grassroots initiative to better understand phosphorus loading in Lake Winnipeg. Local volunteers, school groups, and conservation districts are using their citizen scientist training to collect water quality data at sample sites throughout the Red River watershed. The goal of this project is to measure phosphorus concentrations and water flow data to identify where nutrients are coming from and how much phosphorus is leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg.

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) partnered with LWF in 2016 to conduct regular water quality monitoring at six sample sites in the Seine River watershed. The results of this pilot-study inform how human activity affects our watershed and what we can do to better improve our programs for the benefit of our local environment. An interactive story map produced by the SRRCD and LWF gives meaning to the water quality data collected by volunteer citizen scientists in Manitoba.

A story map is a unique tool for viewing spatial areas using text, photos, and engaging graphics. Story maps are ideal for presenting spatial data in a non-technical way. The results of the 2016 LWF community-based water quality monitoring in the Seine River watershed show that a wide range of phosphorus concentrations vary between sub-watersheds. The story map shows that the amount of phosphorus leaving our watershed for Lake Winnipeg, called the export coefficient, is higher in areas with greater human activity. This narrative, however, is one part of a much bigger story. Phosphorus movement is also affected by natural functions, such as vegetation and soil type. That’s because different plant species and soil types store and release phosphorus in different ways. This means that the export coefficient varies from year to year in response to local environmental conditions, such as overland flooding, soil type, vegetation, and human activity. The story map produced by SRRCD and LWF tells the story of how human and natural interactions function within our watershed and where our phosphorus hotspots are located. We look forward to providing you with more detailed information about water results from each of our watersheds. Stayed tuned in the coming months for water quality testing results conducted in-house by the SRRCD.

You can engage with this narrative by interacting with our story map by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.srrcd.ca. This story map can be viewed by scrolling through the text; zooming in and out of the maps; and by clicking on map features for more information about sample sites and water quality results.

Our head office and phone number has changed. We can be reached at:

We are always looking for volunteer citizen scientists to participate in community-based monitoring as we expand this program throughout our whole district. Contact the SRRCD at info@srrcd.ca for more information about becoming a part of our story!

Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Head Office

154 Friesen Avenue, Steinbach, MB, R5G 0T5

(204) 326-1030