It was late 2004 when the seeds were planted for the formation of a stewardship group at Wizard Lake, a unique serpentine-shaped lake located 50 km southwest of Edmonton, in the North Saskatchewan River Watershed.
Interest in the health of Wizard Lake dated back to the first lake management plan of 1980, and was rekindled during discussions for a draft 1998 lake management plan (subsequently not adopted). A small group of motivated residents were interested in the concept of stewardship and wanted to create a forum for community members to take ownership and responsibility for the healthy future of Wizard Lake, and participate in future lake management discussions.
They recognized a growing concern with the lake’s water quality, characterized by algal blooms in late summer. They also had safety concerns with the increasing number of power boats on this small and narrow lake, which is often used for swimming and fishing.
They started meeting regularly in spring 2005, and things quickly took off for this dedicated group. By March 2006 they were a registered society, and in September 2006 they became qualified to accept donations as a registered charity.
Subsequently, the group conducted activities to raise their profile in the community. This included hand-delivering fliers to all the residents of the watershed to let them know about this new group, to recruit interested residents, and to solicit input on the concerns of watershed residents. The group has used other creative ways to draw attention to their existence, such as hosting a “Wiz ‘Spiel” curling bonspiel on the frozen lake to raise awareness and funds.
By spring 2006 the level of interest and support for their group persuaded them to take on a range of initiatives, part of which were funded by a grant from the Alberta Stewardship Network’s Watershed Stewardship Grant Program. In June 2006 they hosted a public meeting that featured guest speakers, information displays, and a facilitator-moderated session that allowed residents to share their concerns and shape the direction of the WLWLSA. This led the group to develop an initial work plan and to establish volunteer “work groups” to begin addressing some of the residents’ concerns.
Other start-up initiatives in summer 2006 included a water quality monitoring program through the Alberta Lake Management Society, water level monitoring with help from Alberta Environment, installation of speed limit signs and buoys, production of a website and newsletter, and hosting a barbeque as part of their first Annual General Meeting. During their first year they also received registered society status and registered charity status, both of which have helped them solicit additional funds and establish themselves as a legitimate organization.
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Financial Assistance for this website was provided by the Land Stewardship Centre