In 2011, a person was charged and convicted under the Fisheries Act for getting his truck stuck in Waiparous Creek, which is home to one of the few remaining pure-strain Westslope Cutthroat Trout populations in Alberta. The driver said that he was not aware of the damage he was doing when driving his truck into the river bed.
This triggered the idea with GWAS to initiate an awareness and education campaign. GWAS initiated a partnership with the Elbow River Watershed Partnership (ERWP) to develop educational materials and an awareness campaign for recreational use in these sensitive watershed areas.
Four brainstorming session were held over the Fall/Winter 2011/12 by the project committee, which consisted of the following groups/organizations: City of Calgary, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Cows & Fish, Trout Unlimited, Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Wilderness Association, Bow River Basin Council and the Ghost Stewardship Monitoring Group's Communications Committee.
With funding support from the ERWP and a grant by Alberta Ecotrust, a graphic designer was hired to develop draft designs for educational signage. Draft designs were reviewed by several recreational user group members and presented at the BRBC Quarterly Forum in December 2012 as well as the Westslope Cutthroat Trout workshop in February 2013 and February 2014. Some design changes were subsequently made based on the feedback received from users. Two signs were developed: "Steer Clear" and "Thank you for using the bridge".
Since the summer of 2014 these two signs have been in service in many areas of Alberta's Eastern Slopes including the Ghost, Elbow and Oldman watersheds. Based on monitoring results the signs have been accepted very well. It has been observed at one site that 25% more users decided to use the bridge when the "Thank you for using the bridge" sign was present.