Wetlands Committee

What is a wetland and why are they important?

  • Wetlands can be described as the kidneys of the landscape because of the role they play in water and chemical cycles. The plants and soils in and around wetlands absorb and filter out pollution, chemicals, and sediment from the surrounding environment so the discharged water is cleaner then when it entered the wetland.
  • Mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians depend on wetlands for food and shelter, breeding and nesting grounds, and migration resting areas.
  • Wetlands are natural sponges – they capture and store water after snowmelt and rainfalls. This water then helps to recharge groundwater during dry periods. Removing wetlands results in increased flooding and soil erosion.
  • Wetlands also provide excellent outdoor learning and recreational opportunities.


What kinds of wetlands do we find in Alberta?

  • There are several kinds of wetlands in Alberta including sloughs, marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens. We even have constructed wetlands to mitigate urban storm water runoff.
  • While, spring melt waters and heavy precipitation can create sheetwater that spreads over land in low lying areas, this is not considered a wetland. Sheetwater provides important habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife in the spring before ice on wetlands has melted.
  • Cochrane has two main types of wetlands: those associated with the beds and shores of the Bow River, the Jumping Pound Creek, the Big Hill Creek, Millenium Creek, and other natural drainage courses; and those commonly referred to as either prairie potholes or “ knob and kettles”.
  • Cochrane’s “kettles” are found primarily to the south of Cochrane along Highway 22, although smaller potholes are also found north of Highway 1A. These wetlands are commonly referred to as sloughs.

Ownership Issues

The Province owns the water in all Cochrane’s wetlands.

The beds and shores of some of Cochrane’s wetlands are owned by the Province. To be claimed as public lands, the water body must be permanent and naturally occurring.

Wetlands may have only a temporary presence of water. The beds and shores of temporary wetlands can be required to be dedicated to the municipality during the subdivision process of private lands.

 

Did you know:

It is estimated that 70% of Alberta’s wetlands and 90% of Calgary’s wetlands have been eliminated to accommodate urban development and other human impacts.

Cochrane’s wetland inventory has not been completed, but recently 4 out of 5 wetlands in a complex in south Cochrane were approved for infill and development.

Wetland Management:

What YOU Can Do

  • Discuss wetland management with conservation groups
  • Write letters to Alberta Environment urging the province to protect what weltands are left
  • Avoid draining wetlands
  • Maintain trees, shrubs, and grasses growing around wetlands
  • Visit a wetland and discover the wonder for yourself

 

You can download this info here:  CEAC wetlands brochure

 

Wetland Myths 

This is a very detailed set of three articles reviewing wetlands, their threatened status and options to protect these critical ecosystems.  The articles were written in the fall of 2013 by Judy Stewart, Chair of the CEAC Wetland Committee.  These pieces were published in the Cochrane Times.

Part 1 Wetlands aren’t isolated features

Part 2 Existing wetland tools aren’t being fully utilized

Part 3 No net loss policy destroys wetlands