Recent work

The Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS)  completed Phase II of the baseline water and sediment quality analysis and consolidated our findings.


The data collected encompass a variety of parameters and water quality indicators. These give the BCPS excellent knowledge about the status of the Bighill Creek water and sediments. The phase II analysis included a couple of extra sampling locations compared to phase I completed in 2017-2018. This allowed more knowledge-gathering about the effect of land uses upstream and in the vicinity of Bighill Creek.

The BCPS also installed 13 temperature loggers in the Creek, to monitor temperature fluctuations in the spring, summer and fall. If it is too high, native cutthroat trout will not survive.

These Temperature Loggers will allow constant monitoring of the water temperature and will provide important data for on-going Creek management and future decision making. High water temperatures are detrimental to many fish species such as native cutthroat trout.

The BCPS completed a comprehensive aquatic insect study which was championed by Tobin Benedict (B.Sc. 2019) from the department of Biological Science and Environment, University of Calgary. Ken Stevenson, board member was her supervisor.

The BCPS also initiated a citizen science project and collected one year of terrestrial insects with two Malaise traps. We are currently collecting terrestrial insects for summer 2020.


The objective of this water analysis study was to provide information to help protect the Bighill Creek aquatic and riparian environments, the downstream receiving waters, to support reclaiming the watershed as a recreational zone, and to support the reintroduction of a sport fishery. The goal is to protect Bighill Creek and to keep it as healthy as possible. The Bighill Creek Preservation Society exists to promote its protection by educating the larger public, pedestrians, and cyclists who use the area including the Bighill Springs Provincial Park, the paths along the creek belonging to ranchers, the reserve area, further downstream towards Cochrane Ranchehouse and through the Town of Cochrane.

The data collected in this report focus on water and sediment quality indicators that generally fluctuate over time. After phase I was completed in 2017-18, a phase II sampling program was recommended and completed in 2019-20. The additional data collected is invaluable in confirming the status of the parameters measured.

We have also continued our investigation for the fishery habitat. Ken Stevenson, a board member with the help of Elliot Lindsay, Trout Unlimited, have installed 13 temperature loggers in the creek. Before the freezing of the creek water, we will have collected the data needed to see if the conditions are optimum for the reintroduction of the Native West slope cutthroat  trout since we know, from our aquatic insect study concluded last fall by Tobin Benedict, that we have real markers of a healthy stream. Completed riparian studies showed high quality of the riparian areas.

Furthermore, we have improved part of the trails in the reserve area and constructed 6 steps where the slope was very steep and slippery, rendering that section safer. This is a well used trail especially since the pandemic which brought so many more new pedestrians. We have also improved the quality of our foot bridge.

Fly Fishing School

Our Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS) is looking forward to our planned Fly Fishing School on Sunday September 20th at the Clubhouse in Cochrane for your six children: 3 boys and 3 girls ages 10-14 years along with their parents or at least one parent.  Contact Sharon Johnson, (403-851-2562;  .
The Fly Fishing class will be held at the Clubhouse, Town of Cochrane, on Sunday September 20th from 9:am  to 1:00pm.
The Town of Cochrane will select the boys and girls who will participate with their parents to this unique event funded by the Cochrane Foundation.  You also are most welcome to attend as our Guest and to observe.  After the Clubhouse instructions we will all go to the Medford Ponds in Cochrane for actual fly fishing  until about 4:00 pm.

Bighill Springs Provincial Park temporary closure

We want to let you know the Alberta Parks approved funding for the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park Refurbishment Project that includes upgrades to parking areas, picnic sites, trails and site signage.
Depending on the contractor, we may proceed with construction August – exact timing TO BE DETERMINED. Due to the small size of the Park, all visitor facilities (parking, picnic and trails) will be under construction at the same time. In order for the contractor to complete the Project efficiently and to ensure public safety, Alberta Parks is closing the site to visitors. Big Hill Springs Provincial Park will remain closed until summer 2021 to ensure reclaimed areas are well established before welcoming visitors back into the park.
For updated information the project and construction schedule, go to: (
While we do not have a confirmed construction start date as it will depend on the contractor, it may start in early August. We are spreading the word now to provide the public with some notice of construction and park closure.

BHS Public Advisory_Project Map

Interpretative walk this coming Saturday, June 20th

Cows and Fish in conjunction with Bighill Creek Preservation Society has organized an interpretative walk.
You are invited to join us on June 20 .
We will be offering two guided riparian walks (2.5 hours in duration each) on Saturday, June 20, 2020. This includes a morning walk from 9:30 to 12:00 pm and an afternoon walk from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. There are 5 tickets available for each session. Participants are asked to register for one session only.

Thanks to our sponsors

Thank you to the generous organisations and individuals who supported our efforts, with project funding, unallocated donations and in kind contributions. Without these, what has been accomplished would have been impossible.

Alberta EcoTrust

Alberta Land Stewardship

Bow River Basin Council

Cochrane Environmental Action Committee

Cochrane Foundation

Dr Dick Pharis

Town of Cochrane

Trout Unlimited

Rocky View County

Spray Lake Sawmills

Cochrane Hardware

MDL Landscaping

Ann & Don Ferrier

Anonymous doors

AGM 2019-summary

Thanks to everyone who came to our AGM. Your support is appreciated. Once again we were a little too ambitious in trying compress too much information into too little time. We attempted to deal with the standard General Meeting items efficiently and then get to the more interesting topics.
Thanks especially to our generous sponsors: AlbertaEcotrust, Bow River Basin Council, Land Stewardship and CEAC who allow us to conduct our scientific studies. We thank you also our private donors, who allow us to exist as a society in helping for insurance fees and other cost. Thank you to MDL, Town of Cochrane, Cochrane Foundation , Ed, Blaine and many more for our trail maintenance project.
Thanks to Lyse for efficiently describing our finances and audit.
Kathryn Hull and Kristina Boehler of Cows and Fish provided an enlightening description of riparian health in general and the results of their 2018 work on our drainage (mostly good news) . Dr. Ymène Fouli updated us with her most recent water and sediment analysis.
Ken Stevenson informed us regarding his work on instream temperature loggers, the aquatic insect study he managed and the fish inventory he completed with Trout Unlimited.
Vivian and I briefly described trail use and maintenance program on the reserve lands.
Our 2019/20 objectives include commencement of a hydrology study of the drainage and a demonstration project for a beaver pond leveler.
Although the applications for the gravel pits immediately upstream of the spring at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park have been aside by judicial order, we expect that the proponents will reapply in the near future requiring our response.
Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to contact any of our Board Members if you have any comment or concern regarding our activities.

Temperature loggers



In 2017, Elliot Lindsay – Trout Unlimited Calgary – suggested to our Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS) that monitoring the creek water temperature year-round at several locations in the valley would gather vital data on the creek  waters within the drainage. This is particularly critical during the summer and fall months when water temperatures in the creek could rise to levels detrimental to most fish in the creek and certainly trout. Such temperature studies would complement well our existing studies on water quality/sediment studies, riparian assessments, aquatic insect studies and electrofishing studies.
The temperature loggers (14) were purchased in 2019 for BCPS by the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee (CEAC) and subsequent work by BCPS has now readied the temperature loggers for stable placement in deep pools in the spring of 2020 following the spring freshet.
The loggers have a stream life of 4-5 years and can be monitored while in location in the creek.

The longer-term plan is to initial the re-introduction of the original native Westslope Cutthroat trout through work with Alberta Environment – Fish and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited – Calgary and likely the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Along with these projects would be the new work envisaged by BCPS to have a thorough hydrology study of the watershed which would also involve an in-depth study of the beavers and their habitat currently in the Bighill Springs Creek Watershed.

Thanks to our generous donors!

Dear members of Bighill Creek Preservation Society,


Thank you to those who attended our Annual General Meeting last Saturday. We meant to sincerely thank those of you who have been so generous these past few years. Your contributions helped with our cash flow. Without you, we could not cover the cost of insurance, postage, advertisement, website fees nor the odd prints we need. The funds we received from other grants are restricted to the water analysis project. The other ongoing projects we have (trail maintenance and insect studies) are also restricted funds.

Thank you again for your past valuable contribution.

Bighill Creek Preservation Society


Cost not covered by grants:

  • Any operating cost

*We had one grant from Rocky View County to cover some of these operating costs; but it was a one time in our ”life” as a society.

  • Insurance
  • Postage
  • Advertisement
  • Any workshops
  • Business cards

We were able to cover these costs last year, but will be unable to make ends meet this year!!? We do need some help!

Impact of Gravel Pits

In follow up to our earlier communication regarding potential impacts of proposed gravel extraction near Big Hill Springs Provincial Park: attached is a recent update from Gravel Watch regarding the judicial review of the County approvals process.  In short the County has been told their process is significantly inadequate. We expect the proponents will reapply under whatever new guidelines are established.

Subject: Residents Win Judicial Review of Hwy 567 Gravel Pit Approvals – County Appeals

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled in favour of the residents in the judicial review of the gravel pit applications along Hwy 567.   The applications had been approved by Rocky View Council in 2017.

The judge’s ruling included the following key points:

  • That “no reasonable council would proceed in the circumstances of the obviously deficient applications.”
  • That Rocky View Council erred in failing to consider the cumulative impacts of gravel extraction in the area when it made its decisions;
  • That the magnitude and obviousness of the defects in the applicants’ Master Site Development Plans were a “very serious and patently unreasonable departure” from what the County Plan requires in MSDPs; and
  • That the Council could not comply with its obligations to consider relevant factors by deferring decisions to the development authority.

If you want to read the entire decision, you can access it here.  Alternatively, the law firm representing the residents has an excellent summary of the case on their blog.

The judge’s decision makes it very clear that cumulative impacts of multiple gravel pits located close to each other must be considered and that future MSDPs need to include sufficient information “for meaningful decision making and public input”.  The victory means that before any new gravel pits go ahead on Hwy 567, the gravel companies have to reapply and new public hearings have to be held.  This would not be as significant an outcome except for the fact that the judge’s decision means that any reapplication needs to address the identified shortcomings.  If they do not, any subsequent approvals would be unlikely to withstand a future judicial review.

Before you get too excited about the residents’ win, it is important to know that the County is appealing the decision.  This seems to be Rocky View’s strategy for dealing with legal disputes.  The County doesn’t take defeat easily; however unreasonable the court concluded the County’s decisions were, the County is willing to use taxpayers’ dollars to continue to defend its decisions.

If you haven’t yet signed the petition asking the Province to inspect Rocky View’s operations, the County’s decision to appeal this case should be enough to get your signature on the petition.   Visit for more information.

All the best,

Rocky View Gravel Watch



Minutes from last AGM

BCPS –AGM Nov 17, 2018
AGM started at 13h40
1. Confirmation of a quorum: we had 31 persons in attendance. The quorum was met.

2. Welcome:
3. Approval of the Agenda
4. Presentation/approval of the minutes  November 2017
5. Reserves update: maintenance, erosion/weevils, pictures.
6. Grants – Thanks to Sponsors! Showing their page on our website.
Rocky View Operational Fund=$2,500.
* Town of Cochrane=$1,000. For insect study + donation of $164. * Cochrane Environment Action Committee=$2,000.
* Alberta Ecotrust community grant= $7,000. + $500. (administrative cost of Cows & Fish)
*Alberta Ecotrust major grant= $12,165. + $1000. (administrative cost of Cows & Fish)
*Bow River Basin Council= $10,000.
* Land Stewardship=$10,000.
* Restricted funding to pay for watershed study

7. Watershed Study Update- Dr. Fouli

8. Beavers- Dr. Stevenson

9. Mapping Project: Geomatic Study data management
SAIT’s students created a project of mapping our watershed through 21 maps.
Bighill Creek watershed is 43,049 acres /174 km210.

10. Stewardship Committee Volunteer Request/Insect Study
Trail maintenance
11. Financial statement –

12. Future Projects:

Water analysis year 2 Insect study

Continuation of trail maintenance Cows and Fish Riparian Health Study

13. Nominations/Election of Board Members (E)
President: Gerry Bietz, vice-president: Vivian Pharis, secretary-treasurer: Lyse Carignan, directors: Ken Stevenson, David Reid, Ed Fedosoff, Mike Foster. Elected by acclamation.
Adjourn: 15h30-