Bighill Creek Watershed, State of the Watershed report – we’re looking for photos!
Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS) is creating a State of the Watershed (SOW) report that will catalogue and highlight natural and built parameters within the Bighill Creek watershed. The State of the Watershed Team would like to include your photos to help showcase the science, as well as the beautiful landscapes, water, wildlife, agriculture, people and landmarks found within the Bighill Creek watershed. The report will include chapters on the geology, geography, water quality, hydrology, biodiversity, First Nations history, early European history, and current population, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and land uses. Geographical area: The Bighill Creek watershed is situated within the municipal jurisdictions of Rocky View County, the Town of Cochrane, and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park (Government of Alberta).
We hope you will submit photos in the following categories:
1. Landscapes: Natural landscapes (both with and without water), and agricultural landscapes.
2. Built landscapes: Towns, roads, industry, public buildings, historic buildings, farmsteads.
3. Wildlife: Native birds, mammals, fish, insects.
4. Plants: Native plants in both dry and wet conditions, agricultural plants, weed species.
5. Domestic Animals: Cattle, horses, other livestock.
6. People: Please note that if people are identifiable then we need to have their permission for their photos to appear in the report.
* People living and working in the watershed,
* People in recreational activities (e.g., fishing, canoeing, hiking, birdwatching, hunting),
* Group educational activities such as field trips or workshops or school outings.
7. Processes/Weather: Fire, drought, flood, rain, snow, heat, wind, cold, hail.
* Photos are wanted from all four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall; and photos at different times of day (and night!). We are also looking for a variety of perspectives – e.g., wide angle landscape views as well as close-ups of smaller details.
PHOTO CONTEST GUIDELINES
Quality / Size: Photos should be between 3-10 MB in size. Files that are only 100–1000 KB may look good on a screen but are too low in resolution to be used in a printed document.
Photos that used for a full page will be 11” wide by 8.5” tall at 300 dpi. Photos used as smaller “inserts” will be 4-5” wide at 300 dpi. Resolution needs to be at least 300 dpi for printing.
Format: Photos should be submitted in JPEG format. When saving photos in this format, please select the lowest amount of compression (highest quality).
Processing: Processing should be kept to the bare minimum (minor adjustments in contrast, white balance, exposure and sharpening are OK). Please do not apply filters or other effects to your photos.
Naming: Please name your file with the subject matter, photographer’s name and location to aid in compiling photo credits. Example: Koning_Bighill_Creek at_Ranche_Road
Submission: Please send photo entries to Wendell Koning at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 1, 2024. One prize will be given per subject category. Maximum of one entry per category per person (total of 7 entries per person).
Questions: Please contact Wendell Koning at email@example.com
Sponsored by: Bighill Creek Preservation Society (BCPS): https://bighillcreek.ca/
PROJECTS UNDERWAY AND COMPLETED
STATE OF THE WATERSHED REPORT
BCPS is currently working on a State of the Watershed report. Two grants have provided the resources to hire a coordinator for this project and phase one will be completed by February 2024. In Spring 2024 we plan to hold a second Bioinventory focused in the north part of the watershed. We will also work on removing old barb wire throughout the reserve land stewarded by BCPS.
You can help record observations of biodiversity in the Bighill Creek area by joining BCPS iNaturalist Project –Bighill Creek Bioinventory · iNaturalist Canada
COMPREHENSIVE AQUATIC INSECT STUDY
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.
TERRESTRIAL INSECT COLLECTION
By initiating a citizen science project one year of terrestrial insects with two Malaise traps were collected and a second year of collection was completed in summer 2020.
ONGOING INVESTIGATION FOR FISHERY HABITAT
Ken Stevenson, a board member with the help of Elliot Lindsay, Trout Unlimited, 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 by Tobin Benedict, that we have real markers of a healthy stream. Completed riparian studies showed high quality of the riparian areas.
PHASE II BASELINE WATER AND SEDIMENT QUALITY ANALYSIS
Completed Phase II of the baseline water and sediment quality analysis and consolidated 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. 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 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 Ranche house 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.
Parts of the trails in the reserve area have been improved and 6 steps were constructed 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. The quality of the foot bridge has also been improved.