GWAS AGM and 20-year anniversary celebration a success!
On December 3rd, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of GWAS with 40 members at Beaupre Hall! Many thanks to everyone who attended as well as those who volunteered to help organize the event. It was great to share GWAS's work over the past year as well as thank our founding members and volunteers for helping to make GWAS the organization it is today.
Copies of the presentations slides can be downloaded below:
- GWAS's work in 2002 (PDF, 17.6 MB)
- Education and Outreach in the Ghost Watershed 2022 (PDF, 9.5 MB)
- Financial Report Fiscal 2021/22 (PDF, 1 MB)
News & Events
Community Families Explore Aquatic Life - Friday, August 27th, 2021
The Ghost Watershed Alliance Society hosted this event to explore aquatic life. Do you know what lives in the wetlands? Have you seen what lives in the river? Explore life in and along the shore of the Ghost River! From amphibians to aquatic macroinvertebrates, there's lots of wriggling creatures to be found. During this event, participants will have a chance to play games, listen to stories, and use basic materials to better see and understand aquatic life. More events of this kind will take place in the future.
CreekWatch in the Ghost Watershed - opportunity to join a sampling day - July 6 & August 10, 2021
Participants learned how to conduct the testing and contribute to this citizen science effort along the Ghost River!
GWAS Water Monitoring Program Online Film Premiere - May 6, 2021
On May 6th, GWAS presented its film "Beneath the Surface" featuring the first season of its Water Monitoring Program field work. To watch the 20-minute film, please visit GWAS's Youtube Channel.
The Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) online presentation - March 30, 2021:
Tours, toads, and stream setbacks in the Ghost Watershed
Three student groups from St. Mary’s University Biology 451 class have completed desktop projects on topics related to conservation biology within the Ghost Watershed. Come and learn more about (1) a scenic tour program showcasing the Ghost, (2) the western toad and its life cycle, and (3) stream buffers related to various land use activities.
Ghost Watershed Alliance Society Annual General Meeting - November 28th, 2020
The first virtual AGM was a success! Thank you so much to everyone who joined us online.
Please find below the links to download all presentation slides as presented at the AGM:
- The Year in Review and Plans for 2021 (14.4 MB)
- Watershed Education and Related Outreach (5.7 MB)
- Random Camping and Shooting in the Ghost Watershed (9.9 MB)
- Watershed Monitoring Program (7.6 MB)
- Financial Report (0.9 MB)
August 2020 News - GWAS mourns the passing of Gus Yaki:
It is with great sadness that we share the news of Gus Yaki's passing with you.
Since 2007, Gus had led our popular plant ID walks at the Butters Ranch every spring.
Participants of all ages learned about the many different plants that can be found in the
Ghost Watershed through Gus's engaging presentations during these walks.
He will be sorely missed.
Ghost River Community Kids Water Walk, October 4 & 19, 2020 - SOLD OUT!
We had two very successful, sold out events. We are looking forward to resuming these events in 2021.
Theme: Awesome Autumn!
Looking through the lens of seasonal change, we will investigate life along the Ghost River before winter snow and freezing temperatures arrive. Through a pond study, scavenger hunt, and group storytelling, we will offer the following glimpses into nature:
Bustling bugs – bring your eye up close and see aquatic invertebrates!
Wetland wonders – investigate how water behaves in a wetland!
Change the channel – search for evidence of a moving riverbed!
Flood forensics – be a detective and look for clues of past flooding!
Riparian ramble – take a nature walk where the water meets the land!
2-day bioengineering workshop with Dave Polster, September 25 & 26, 2020 - SOLD OUT!
Great opportunity to learn from one of the best bio-engineering specialists in Canada in this free 2-day
workshop! Learn how to use native plants to restore disturbed sites and stabilize streambanks in the
5th Walk in the Watershed - Sunday, September 13th, 2020
This full-day hike to the Horse Lake area.
4th Walk in the Watershed - Saturday, August 29th, 2020 - Black Rock Mountain
Full day hike, back by popular demand. The trail up to the top of Black Rock gently meanders through the forest, then passing through alpine meadows, with only the last short stretch to the old Fire Lookout having some scree. The views from the top of Black Rock Mountain are amazing!
3rd Walk in the Watershed - Sunday, August 9th, 2020
This full-day hike to Horse Lake and the magnificent Aura wetlands complex.
2nd Walk in the Watershed - Saturday, July 25, 2020:
July 11, 2020 - Ghost Plublic Land Use Zone Clean-up Event
In partnership with the Alberta Backcountry Hunters and Anglers,
GWAS organized a clean-up event in the Ghost Public Land Use
Zone. A large part of the Ghost Watershed is located within the
Ghost Public Land Use Zone, which is a very popular area for
recreation and camping. 860kg plus a truck load of metal was
collected and removed by the volunteers! Many thanks to all the
volunteers, to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and AEP for
helping to make this project happen!
July 1, 2020 - 1st GWAS Walk in the Watershed
Lesueur Ridge trail.
July 2020 News:
GWAS produced a virtual field tour of the Ghost Watershed, since actual field trips had been
cancelled due to COVID-19. You can watch the 30-minute video here.
To see News & Events from previous years, please visit or News & Events Archive
Pinned post - AB government amends Forest and Prairie Protection Act:
In 2017, the Alberta government made changes to the Forest and Prairie Protection Act and associated regulations to improve public safety as they relate to preventing human-caused wildfires and protecting Albertans, their communities, natural resources, and infrastructure from wildfire damage. The Act’s regulations have been updated to reflect the legislation and are now in force (as of March 29, 2017). Under the legislation, target shooting involving incendiary targets is prohibited year-round in forested areas such as the Ghost Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ). For more information, please see the legislation document on the Government of Alberta website and the Alberta Wildfire website.
Walks in the Watershed for 2023:
While the snow is still melting, we have been busy planning the Walks in the Watershed for 2023. Here is a list of the first four walks / hikes planned:
• Monday, April 24: Tote Road (Rating: easy)
• Saturday, May 13: Horse Lake with Wildlife - Wetlands Ecologist Peter Balagus (Rating: moderate)
• Sunday, June 11: Anti-Ghost (Rating: Difficult)
• Wednesday, July 5: Hoodoo Hall (Rating: Moderate to strenuous)
Details for the hike to Horse Lake on Saturday, May 13, 2023
Set in a pocket of foothills east of Waiparous Creek, Horse Lake connects a wetland complex and drains into Aura Creek, a thin aquatic ribbon of habitat for westslope cutthroat trout. The surrounding stands of sturdy sentinel trees mark time with their rings, their old roots anchoring the glacial aeolian deposits called the Sand Hills. Saturated with water and life, this place is home to owls, wild horses, wolves, and the imagination of those who visit. Participants will travel through timber harvest areas, bridged creek crossings, old seismic lines, wild horse trails and beaver landscape architecture. This out and back hike is approximately 12 km long with 140 m elevation gain and 150 m elevation loss on the way in.
To register for this free event, please follow the Eventbrite link here.
Details on the meeting location will be sent via email to those registered. Please make sure that you whitelist emails from Eventbrite. In case you do not receive a registration confirmation or an email with the meeting location details at least 24 hours prior to the event, please contact us.
For more information, please email us:
Bow River Basin Council Quarterly Forum (virtual) - Wednesday, December 8th, 2021
Richard Phillips: Bow River Irrigation District
Flora Giesbrecht: Elbow River Watershed Partnership
Marina Krainer: Ghost Watershed Alliance Society
Reed Froklage: RiverWatch Institute of Alberta
David Swann: Fish Creek Watershed Association
GWAS presented on its current projects at the virtual Educational and Networking Forum hosted by the BRBC.
You can download a copy of the presentation slides here (PDF, 8.8 MB).
GWAS Annual General Meeting - Saturday, November 27th, 2021
It has been an extraordinary year for GWAS. During the virtual AGM, we shared reports
on GWAS's water monitoring work, the bio-engineering workshop, education and
outreach efforts and more. Copies of teh presentation slides can be downloaded below:
GWAS Executive Director Report (PDF, 10.1 MB)
Report on Education and Outreach in 2021 (PDF, 3.9 MB)
Report on Water Monitoring Program (PDF, 6.9 MB)
Top Priorities for 2022 (PDF, 2.9 MB)
Financial Report (PDF, 937 KB)
September 2021 - 2-day bio-engineering workshop was a success!
GWAS successfully held the 2-day bio-engineering workshop with Dave Polster.
The weather was glorious and the fall colours were near their peak providing ideal
conditions for the field day. We would like to thank everyone involved for their support
and engagement in this project. Please see our Media Gallery for photos of the
Recreational Stewardship Fair - Saturday, August 21, 2021
GWAS participated in the Recreational Stewardship Fair in the Ghost
Public Land-use Zone organized by Cows & Fish.
Location. Waiparous Provincial Recreation Area (Staging Area)
Many organizations participating in this event including off-highway
vehicle clubs, Alberta Environment and Parks, Trout Unlimited Canada and
more. The event focussed on raising awareness about why stewardship is
so important when recreating in Alberta's Eastern Slopes. Topics covered
by GWAS included threatened fish species and their habitat as well as
bio-engineering using natural plant material to prevent erosion and sediment
from entering streams. Many thanks to Alberta Conservation Association for
their support of this initiative!
PAST NEWS & EVENTS:
May 2021 - GWAS Water Monitoring Program Film:
GWAS proudly presents its film "Beneath the Surface" featuring the first season of its Water Monitoring Program field work.
To watch the 20-minute film, please visit GWAS's Youtube Channel.
We would like to thank Alberta Ecotrust, the Bow River Basin Council and the Land Stewardship Centre for their generous support of the GWAS Water Monitoring Program in 2020.
May 2021 - GWAS educational resources on westslope cutthroat trout
Over the past year, GWAS's Education Coordinator developed digital resources on
westslope cutthroat trout, a threatened native fish species occuring in the Ghost
Watershed. The teacher's guide and a comprehensive educational slideshow are available for download from our website.
2-day Bio-engineering Workshop in the Ghost Watershed - October 13 & 15, 2022:
Participants learned how to use native plants to restore disturbed sites and stabilize streambanks in the Ghost Watershed.
This year's workshop was led by Jon Berlie of Burly Creations, a seasoned professional in environmental restoration. Jon has worked with GWAS on bio-engineering projects in the Ghost Watershed for a number of years and we are proud to carry on the legacy of sharing the knowledge we gained from restoration and plant ecologist David Polster, who has recently retired.
Bio-engineering Field Day in the Ghost Watershed - Saturday, October 1, 2022
The bio-engineering field day was a success! A keen group harvested and planted a large amount willow and poplar stakes on October 1, a beautifully sunny and warm day. On October 15, planting will continue on the remainder of the site.
Photos can be found here.
July 30, 2022: 3rd Walk in the Watershed - Wildflowers at the Butters Ranch
Special Guest: Kathryn Hull, Cows and Fish
An easier hike at the Butters Ranch to enjoy the scenary and learn about wildflowers and other plants.
June 2022 - Story Map on Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve released!
Over the past few months, GWAS supported the Forest Matters project to develop a Story Map on the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve. A large portion of the Ghost Watershed falls within the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve.
The Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve (RMFR) covers 23,180 km2 of land along the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, an area larger than Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Waterton National Parks combined. The land in the RMFR sits within Treaty 7 territory—the traditional and ancestral territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Piikani and Siksika) as well as the Tsuu T'ina Nation and Stoney Nakoda First Nation; Treaty 6 territory—the traditional and ancestral territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux and Nakota Sioux; and the Metis Nation of Alberta, Regions 3 and 4. Today, the Government of Alberta manages the RMFR as public land on behalf of its citizens. While its boundaries have changed slightly from its creation in 1910 by the Dominion of Canada, the RMFR is still publicly owned for the public interest.
To find out more about the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve, please visit the Story Map.
June 14 & 15, 2022 Casino event successfully completed!
Thanks to all our volunteers, we were able to successfully complete our second chritable Casino event. Since our first Casino event in 2018, these funds have provided sustained multi-year funding which enabled GWAS to grow substantially. The funds from this year's Casino event will help us to continue our work over the coming years. Thank you!
2nd Walk in the Watershed - Lesueur Ridge and Listening for Toads: May 15, 2022
Evening hike up Lesueur Ridge with views of the Ghost River and front ranges of the Rocky Mountains.
Visit to a nearby breeding spot of the western toad afterwards to listen for the characteristic mating calls of the males that typically start after sunset at this time of year.
Native Trout Workshop - Steering Trout Towards Recovery: March 8, 2022
At the workshop, GWAS presented about the CABiN sampling program and bio-engineering at the virtual Native Trout workshop. The event included many great presentations on watershed health and native trout species with the opportunity to ask questions from the comfort of your home!
Native Trout Workshop - Technical Session: March 15, 2022
The fourth native trout workshop session was an all-day exploration of the
technical side of native trout recovery. Participants joined virtually for an
in-depth workshop on the science behind native trout rehabilitation from
stream to lab.
Morning (9am-12pm MST)
Topics included: Ecohydraulics, Data Mapping, Habitat Restoration Feasibility,
Defining Critical Habitat, and Reassessing Electrofishing Sampling Lengths
Afternoon: (1pm-4pm MST)
Topics included: Brook Trout Suppression project update, Brook Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat rotenone, Beneficial Management Practices (BMP), Native trout response to habitat restoration, Return of Bull Trout and missing Arctic Grayling, and In-Stream Incubation
1st Hike in the Watershed - Sunday, February 13, 2022
The group enjoyed a winter hike to Mockingbird Fire Lookout in the Ghost Watershed on a warm and surprisingly calm Chinook day. An easy hike on fire road up Mockingbird Hill to a fire lookout where you are treated to a 360 degree panorama of the Rocky Mountains and Foothills.
January 2022 - Bio-engineering video now available to watch online!
Over the last couple of months, GWAS has been working on a video on
bio-engineering. The video entitled, “Working Together to Restore our
Watersheds,” is now complete. Following the very well attended online
screening premiere on January 25, the video is now available for viewing on
the GWAS YouTube channel.
Thanks to the generous funding from the City of Calgary, GWAS was able to
document this important restoration work.
The 2-day bio-engineering workshop featured in this video was generously funded by the Alberta Conservation Association.
Many thanks to Story Brokers Media House for putting this video together for GWAS, to all the volunteers and speakers as well as our partners on the project!
Clean-up Days in the Ghost Watershed a success!
This year, GWAS partnered with the Alberta Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the BP Retirees to host two clean-up days in the Ghost Public Land-use Zone. We cleaned up two popular target shooting sites near Four Mile Creek collecting the staggering amount of 1,060 kg of gun shells, target and other debris! We can't thank all our volunteers enough for helping to keep our watershed clean!
December 3, 2022: New StoryMap released - People in Place: 20 years of GWAS
Thanks to our Education Coordinator, we now have a great new StoryMap to tell the story of GWAS and the Ghost Watershed! Take a look here:
Monday, April 24 Walk in the Watershed - Eau Claire Tote Road
Walk on a portion of an historic trail, the Eau Claire Lumber Company Tote Road.
Sustainable Trails workshop (virtual) - Wednesday, March 29, 2023
GWAS, the Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish), and the Elbow River Watershed Partnership (EWRP), hosted the virtual Sustainable Trails Workshop on March 29th from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.
The event featured presentations by GWAS, the Calgary ATV Riders Association CARA), Trails 4 Tomorrow and McElhanney (an engineering company with extensive knowledge on trail engineering) and was attended by 56 people.
Winter Hike in the Watershed: Sunday, January 29, 2023
Hike on the frozen Waiparous Creek.