For many years, Alberta’s irrigation districts have partnered with conservation organizations to assist in the construction and maintenance of wetland and upland wildlife habitat. Wildlife species of all kinds abound through southern Alberta due in part to the presence of the irrigation distribution system.
Today in southern Alberta’s irrigation districts, some 80,000 acres of wetlands receive water conveyed through irrigation infrastructure for the benefit of waterfowl, beavers, muskrat ungulates and many other native species. Most of these wetland projects were completed in partnership with Ducks Unlimited over the last 50 years.
More recently, irrigation districts have partnered with other organizations to develop field shelterbelt/habitat plantings. Water primarily delivered for crop production purposes sustain trees, shrubs and grasses planted to provide food resources and shelter to a number of wildlife species while also protecting the soil resource and supporting biodiversity.
Riparian fencing projects undertaken by districts adjacent to storage reservoirs and conveyance canals have the primary purpose of protecting and enhancing water quality but also benefit many wildlife species. Restricting access by livestock to these areas allows establishment of vegetation which provides shelter, food and birthing and rearing areas for waterfowl, small mammals and songbirds.
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