WID Stewards Local Habitat
In the last twenty years, the Western Irrigation District (WID)
has embraced more than 40 opportunities to contribute to
local habitat within the district.
Sometimes with the help of provincial grant funds and often
as part of their own project development, more than 80,000
trees have been planted, and numerous wetlands have been
created or rehabilitated. The planting not only balances out the trees removed when they are dead or in spaces where infrastructure is to be built, but substantially contributes to additional habitats for a wide range of wildlife.
Brian Sander, who oversees the WID’s management of water operations, has a background in horticulture and landscaping. He says he has always been “familiar with the benefits of more greenery in the world” and is proud to work for an organization that is committed to environmental stewardship.
A federal initiative called The Prairie Shelterbelt Program supplied about 25,000 trees for WID projects over a ten-year period, wrapping up in 2013. Since that time, the WID has continued to invest in planting as part of various infrastructure projects.
“It’s important to pursue our work in harmony with the natural environment and enhance the land under our care,” explains Sander. “Planting beautifies our canal right-of-ways, offers habitat and passageways for wildlife to travel through, and often serves as pollinator sanctuaries for bees.”
One standout example is the Langdon Habitat Demonstration Site, just off Glenmore Trail on the way to Chestermere. Featuring large trees and specialized shrubbery along the WID’s ’A’ Canal, the organization worked with Pheasants Forever to implement the project.
Similarly, the Spielman project and Cairnhill Spillway, both south of Strathmore, are also well-developed planting sites. Boasting lush greenery and teeming with birds and small mammals, they are thriving habitats.
The WID pursues water-friendly and drought-
tolerant plants so these areas can be self-sufficient
after a few years. Sander says it’s “incredibly
rewarding” to see that happen.
To date, the WID has completed more than 40 habitat
projects, with the next one tentatively planned for spring
2022. The team is always interested in working with
landowners adjacent to canals, to steward habitat – always
looking for locations to partner with landowners adjacent to
canals, to work together to enhance and preserve habitat.