Building Community

It takes investment to build community.

The citizens of Flagstaff County — the “Community of communities” — contributed more than $6 million last year in support of a variety of activities and services.

Here is a breakdown of all regional funding in 2015 (click image to enlarge).

Building CommunityImage

Taxes Due October 17

Friendly reminder: Taxes are due October 17, 2016. A penalty of 12% will be applied on all unpaid taxes after the due date.

To avoid penalties, payments made by mail must be postmarked no later than October 17, 2016 and payments made by Internet banking or Telpay must be received no later than October 17, 2016.

Payment options available:

• Cheque, debit or cash (NO credit) at the County Office, 12435 TWP RD 442, Sedgewick, AB 

• Mail: Flagstaff County, P.O. Box 358, Sedgewick, AB T0B 4C0 

• Online or in person banking accepted at the following local banks: Vision Credit UnionATB Financial, and BMO Bank of Montreal

• TelPay: (TelPay payments can be made at www.telpay.ca or go to Flagstaff County’s website www.flagstaff.ab.ca; under ‘County Services,’ select ‘Finance’ and then click on Telpay)

• E-Transfers direct from your bank account accepted at county@flagstaff.ab.ca

‘Stollery Kid’ Artwork Gifted To County

Gerald art 205wA heartfelt thank-you goes out to eight-year-old artist Alex and the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation for the cool artwork!

In recognition of Flagstaff County’s recent $100,000 donation to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, we have been gifted with this framed masterpiece. Cyndi Matthews, development officer with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, made the heartwarming presentation to County Reeve Gerald Kuefler on Thursday, September 22, 2016, at the County administration office.

art04 250wAlex is a “Stollery Kid,” who beat the odds. As stated in the bio accompanying his colourful drawing, “Alex was born at 24 weeks and at only one week old, doctors felt he was not going to make it. His parents used skin-to-skin contact and Alex ended up stabilizing. At almost five months old, Alex was able to go home, with oxygen and a feeding tube. Today, Alex is happy and healthy!”

In June, County Council unanimously approved a motion to donate $100,000 to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. The donation has been earmarked for the Foundation’s Battle River Community Initiative to help fund a new pediatric operating room at the hospital.

The Battle River Community Fundraising Initiative is the product of a group of dedicated family members and others from the community. Last year, they set a goal of raising $500,000 by the end of 2016 to fund a new pediatric OR that will be named the Battle River Community Room.

Operating room redevelopment is part of an extensive expansion underway at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Plans include renovating the five current operating theatres and expanding to add five more operating theatres to improve patient care and provide timely access to all children requiring surgery.

Operating room space has been identified as a critical need at the hospital that is positioned as a western Canadian hub for pediatric cardiac surgery and organ transplants, serving one of the largest catchment areas in the world. Demand for OR space outstrips capacity, according to the latest statistics from the hospital, leading to waitlists and cancellations of critical surgeries and procedures for children and youth.

To support this initiative, donate online at www.stollerykids.com, call 1-877-393-1411 or mail a cheque to: Stollery Children’s Foundation; 800 College Plaza; 8215 112 St., Edmonton, AB; T6G 2C8. Select “Battle River Community Initiative” when donating online, or reference it when calling or mailing in your donation.

Thank you again, Alex! Best of health and happiness to you!

County, NCC Partner For Conservation

meyers300Flagstaff County and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) are proud to announce a partnership dedicated towards conserving the Meyers property, an ecologically significant piece of land along the Battle River.

This project is of particular importance as it represents the first time NCC and Flagstaff County have partnered to conserve a property owned by the municipality.

“The Meyers property is a unique natural landscape that we felt should be protected from development,” says Flagstaff County’s Reeve Gerald Kuefler. “Council sought alternatives for how we could protect it. Through our research, we determined that that Nature Conservancy of Canada would be the best option.”

The Meyers property is 169 acres (68 hectares) located on the banks of the Battle River, which is a tributary of the North Saskatchewan River that runs through central Alberta and western Saskatchewan. The lands surrounding the river make up the Battle River watershed.

The Battle River is a prairie-fed river instead of a glacier-fed river; it depends on local rainfall for its water supply, making the lands that surround it critical to its survival. The watershed—or basin—is an important geographical feature, as snow and rain that falls on the surrounding lands all drain into the river.

The preservation of vegetation in riverside areas, called riparian zones, is important because it stabilizes the riverbanks and prevents erosion, decreases the impact of flooding, and filters out sediments and pollutants. It also provides habitat for native fish, birds, mammals, and insects. A few significant fish species found in the Battle River include northern pike, walleye, mooneye, and goldeye.

Water from the Battle River is used by downstream communities every day for domestic, industrial, and agricultural purposes.

The Meyers property was purchased by Flagstaff County in April 2012. Due to its location alongside the river and the lack of human impact on the land, the county recognized the need for conservation of the property and approached NCC, Canada’s leading land trust organization, about placing a conservation easement on it.

A conservation easement is a solution for landowners who still want to retain ownership of their property, but are invested in long-term conservation. An easement is the legal transfer of select development rights to a land trust organization. It is a legally binding contract recognized by both provincial and federal law, and the easement remains in place even if ownership of the land changes in the future.

Bob Demulder, NCC’s regional vice president, said “the Meyers property is excellent natural habitat containing a mosaic of grasslands, badlands, and woodlands. Partnering with Flagstaff County is a unique opportunity, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada is pleased to be a part of this exciting conservation project.

Heading forward, Flagstaff County will continue to manage the land. Reeve Kuefler says the plan is to maintain the property’s uniqueness by keeping it in its natural state. NCC will visit the property annually to ensure the terms of the easement are being upheld, and together, NCC and Flagstaff County will work together for the long-term conservation of the Meyers property.

Photos of the property available here (photo credit to NCC).

Facts

-The Meyers property, combined with an adjacent 1,200-acre (486-hectare) easement also held by NCC, creates several miles of conserved riparian lands along the river valley of the Battle River.

-This conservation project was made possible with the support of Flagstaff County towards both the securement of the easement and the stewardship of the property.

-Further support for this project came from North American Wetlands Conservation Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Repsol Canada.

 

About the Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation’s leading private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, protecting vital natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped protect more than 2.8 million acres (1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. In Alberta, we have conserved over 234,000 acres (94,700 hectares) of this province’s most ecologically significant land and water.

To learn more:

Visit: www.natureconservancy.ca
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/NCC_CNC
Become a fan on Facebook

 

About Flagstaff County

Flagstaff County is known as the “Community of Communities.” Ten communities located within create a region that boasts an affordable cost of living, numerous recreational opportunities, friendly people and a quiet rural lifestyle.

To learn more:

Visit: www.flagstaff.ab.ca
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/FlagstaffCounty
Become a fan on Facebook

 

For more information contact

Carys Richards
Communication Coordinator, Alberta Region
Nature Conservancy of Canada
Tel. 403 515-6861
Carys.Richards@natureconservancy.ca

Cary Castagna
Communication Coordinator
Flagstaff County
Tel. 780 384-4134
ccastagna@flagstaff.ab.ca

Ancient Bison Bone Found

 

bisonfrtpgwArchaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be an ancient bison bone from a historically significant area of Flagstaff County.

The discovery was made in a three-metre-deep trench dug up with an excavator Aug. 27 during excavation efforts near one of the County’s gravel pits.

“It’s more than likely a species of bison,” says Madeline Coleman, an archaeologist with Edmonton-based Tree Time Services Inc.

The lone bone, thought to be a portion of an adult bison’s radius, will be compared to ancient bison bones stored in a collection at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and is expected to undergo testing, “possibly carbon-dating,” adds Coleman.

Until then, its age won’t be certain. Theoretically, the bone could be anywhere from 300 to 13,000 years old.

“Human occupation in Alberta started around 11,000 B.C.,” Coleman explains. “As glaciers moved out of the province, people started moving in.”

Flagstaff County has agreed not to publicize the location of the bone find in order to discourage members of the public from conducting their own archaeological digs at the site. Under the Historical Resources Act, artifacts and other historic resources are property of the Crown, and citizens are prohibited from digging and collecting them without a permit.

The site is adjacent to one of the seven gravel pits that the County currently leases and manages. This particular pit was earmarked for expansion. But after it was discovered that the land fell within a “significant historical site” as recorded by the provincial government, the County notified Alberta Culture and Tourism as required under the Historical Resources Act.

Coleman and a fellow archaeologist with Tree Time Services, Elenore Hood, worked for four days at the site, conducting shovel tests, surface inspections and combing through soil excavated from three-metre test pits as part of their initial assessment.  

 leanore250w
 Elenore Hood displays a lithic flake found near a Flagstaff County gravel pit.  

No other bones were found, but Coleman and Hood did collect and catalogue over 50 lithic flakes and three cores they found in other tests around the site. A lithic flake is a portion of rock that was removed from a cobble core in the fashioning of prehistoric weapons, such as arrowheads, and other tools.

There is no way to gauge the exact age of a lithic flake. All Coleman can say for certain is that the flakes are from a period of time prior to the 18th century when Europeans settled in the area.

The archaeologists are now completing an interim report to Alberta Culture and Tourism containing recommendations for further evaluation.

“We would like to do more testing just to see if anything else pops up, but that will depend on Alberta Culture,” Coleman adds.

“What we’d like to see is the area plowed because everything we’re finding is in the plow zone.”

The plow zone, she explains, is the top layer of the soil to the depth at which a plow will penetrate and disturb archeological deposits. She estimates the plow zone in this case is about 30 to 40 cm deep.

The area of interest is roughly 4.5 hectares, according to Coleman.

Within 10 km of the area, the provincial government has recorded 112 other historically significant sites that includes everything from isolated finds, such as ancient projectile points, and large prehistoric campsites to farmsteads, ranches and other historic structures dating back to the 19th century.

In the area, there are also a number of bison kill sites, where indigenous populations drove herds of bison off river margins and other topographical high points. It wasn’t the fall that would prove fatal, Coleman notes, but the impact of the bison falling on one another.

The Tree Time Services archaeologists expected to file their interim report with Alberta Culture and Tourism this week.

“We’re hoping to have an answer within two weeks,” Coleman notes.

As mandated by Alberta Culture and Tourism, the County has also contracted paleontologists to examine the area in the coming days.

To report an archaeological find made anywhere in Alberta, click HERE.

bone250w
Image of the adult bison radius supplied by Tree Time Services Inc.

 

 

Watershed Restoration Program Launched

 DonRuzicka300wIf you’re a landowner and you’re interested in reaping the countless benefits of a stewardship project on your property, there’s plenty of funding and experts available to help you.

That was the take-home point during the launch of the Battle River Watershed Riparian Restoration Program, hosted Aug. 9 at Ruzicka Sunrise Farm north of Killam.

“The biggest message is that there’s information and there’s people and money available to help landowners if they’re interested in stewardship projects or if they’re just trying to do something productive, even with some of their marginal lands,” explains Susanna Bruneau, policy research coordinator with the Battle River Watershed Alliance.

“We’re trying to make sure the land is used as best as possible, whether it’s marginal land – even if it’s pasture land – how can we make sure that it is utilized well so it benefits everyone and everything?

“When you take care of the land and the other biological creatures and elements that are involved in making the ecosystem work, that helps with crops, it helps with cattle, it helps with everything. And if you don’t know how to do it, there are people around that can help you.”

Along with the Battle River Watershed Alliance, the launch was also sponsored and organized by the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES), Cows and Fish: Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, the Iron Creek Watershed Improvement Society, and Flagstaff County.  

gravityfeedwateringsystem300w
Don Ruzicka discusses his innovative gravity watering system, which includes a swale and massive tank, on his farm north of Killam.

The five-hour event was attended by a handful of area landowners and included a tour of Don and Marie Ruzicka’s farm, featuring discussions on shelterbelts, eco-buffers, pollinators and riparian plantings.

The Ruzicka farm is an example of what you can do “on a whole bunch of different fronts,” notes Kerri O’Shaughnessy, riparian specialist with Cows and Fish: Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society.

“We saw a lot of it from the environmental side. Don’s been at it from 1997, when he put up his first fence, to all the trees he’s planted over the years (an estimated 100,000). He’s a good demonstration farm, but he’s also a good spokesman for agriculture as well.”

Jeff Renton, project manager with AWES, points out that there’s a variety of benefits that can be achieved through improved land management.  

willowstakeplanting300w

Jeff Renton, project manager with Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society, demonstrates willow stake planting.

“For instance, through tree planting in fields, you can have higher soil moisture levels, more pollination, more pest control and potentially improved soil fertility,” he explains.

“As you saw with Don’s shelterbelts, you can have a very specific function – you want to take the wind off your cattle or you want to keep more snow across the field – but if you add a few more elements into the design – having a wider shelterbelt, having more diverse species – you can add so many more of those extra benefits that don’t really cost much more than the initial planting itself.

“From the field perspective or from the riparian perspective we talked about in terms of increasing wildlife, you get a lot of the similar benefits, but you also can retain more of your shoreline, you can have improved water quality. Any sort of planting can have multiple benefits if designed with that intent.”

And the benefits are far-reaching.

“These riparian management strategies are also key and important for livestock health and livestock gains, as well,” notes O’Shaugnessy. “It’s not just about the water quality for the ducks. It’s also about the animals themselves.”

Don Ruzicka says it boils down to the fact that every one of us is responsible to care for the land.

“You don’t even have to be a landowner,” he says. “If you drink water, maybe ask the question: where does this come from, where has the creek run through? And if you can follow that trail, would it lead to the reason our water is so clean is because landowners are taking care of their riparian areas, they’re working together as a community to make the community healthier for those that live there and those that come after us? And if we can continue that small snowball, it gets into a bigger and bigger snowball and it’s just a benefit for all of us.”

For more information or to apply for funding: 
Visit Battle River Watershed or
Contact David Samm at 1-888-672-0276 or via email.  

Battle River Watershed Riparian Program

watershedevent250wJoin us for the launch of the Battle River Watershed Riparian Restoration program on Tuesday, August 9. Under this new initiative, funding is available to support landowner and community projects that improve the health of the Battle River and its tributary streams in the Iron Creek Watershed and Flagstaff County.

The program launch runs from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Ruzicka Sunrise Farm (46059 RR 142). It will feature onsite demos, including off-stream watering systems. Lunch will be provided.

This is a free event, but please register by contacting Luke Wonneck at AWES (Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society) at 1-587-891-1325 or l.wonneck@awes-ab.ca.

 

Notice of Development

development150wNotice is hereby given that the Development Officer has issued a development permit in accordance with the Land Use By-Law No. 06/12 for the following development:

Hutterian Brethren Church of Lougheed of Lougheed to perform Gravel Extraction (Class 1 Pit) on the NE quarter of Section 04 Township 42 Range 11 West of the 4th Meridian.  NE-04-42-11-W4.

 Any person who deems to be affected by the Development may appeal the decision to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board no later than 4:30 p.m. on January 9, 2017.  

Appeals are to be filed, in writing, with Flagstaff County, Box 358, Sedgewick, Alberta T0B 4C0, Attn: Shelly Armstrong, CAO.  The Notice of Appeal must include the legal description of the land proposed for development and the reasons for appeal.  Appeals must include a non-refundable Subdivision and Development Appeal fee of $300.  

Should an appeal be received against this decision, the permit shall not come into effect until the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board has issued its decision.  

December 19, 2016
Date of Decision       
December 19, 2016
Date of Issue of Development Permit
Rosemary Hoyland, Development Officer

 

 

 

Flea Beetles Feasting on Leafy Spurge

beetle150wLeafy spurge has been “bugging” Wyatt and Theresa Bitzer for years.

This summer, the Hardisty-area farmers are finally turning the proverbial tables on the persistent perennial weed – by unleashing 4,000 flea beetles on a patch of their infested land.

The tiny black beetles, referred to scientifically as aphthona lacertosa, are known to have a voracious appetite for leafy spurge.

It’s all part of a new program that Flagstaff County is offering to residents in partnership with the Alberta Invasive Species Council.

The idea is that these little weed warriors will munch on a small area of leafy spurge (typically about three square metres) over the next few months.

The beetles will lay eggs in the soil soon and eventually die, while the larvae will bury into the roots of the invasive vegetation and overwinter in the root system, explains Karma Tiberg, a biological control specialist contracted by the Alberta Invasive Species Council to assist with beetle releases at two properties in the Flagstaff Region. setting bettles

“And then next summer, they’ll emerge as adults,” she adds. “It’s one generation per year.”

This type of beetle is inherently lazy and rarely flies, according to Tiberg. Rather, it hops. And as long as there’s leafy spurge around, it will stay put.

The hope, of course, is that the flea beetle population will increase from year to year, which will increase the patch size of leafy spurge that’s impacted.

The Bitzers likely won’t notice a difference for several years.

“You’re not going to see a lot of damage until they build up their populations,” Tiberg notes. “It’s not an overnight solution by any means. It’s more to bring it back into balance. It’s not going to eradicate the weed completely, but it’s going to bring it down to a manageable level.”

That’s fine with the Bitzers. They’re just happy to have a green alternative.

horse bettleThe couple moved onto the property, located just southeast of Hardisty, circa 2000. Since then, their leafy spurge problem has gotten progressively worse.

Between 2007 and 2011, they used goats to help control the invasive weed.

“They worked well,” Theresa says, “but we don’t have the fencing to keep them in.”

Now they’re hoping the low-maintenance beetles will prove effective over the long haul, in addition to the targeted tilling and mowing they do on a regular basis.

“I don’t think you can control it with one method. It takes a multiple, diligent effort,” she adds, noting they don’t spray. “We understand the (leafy spurge) situation is what it is. We just want to make sure we stay on top of it. Hopefully the bugs will work out.”

Tiberg, assisted by University of Lethbridge summer student Kailyn Nelson, also released 2,000 flea beetles on a patch of Hardisty-area land owned by Steve Mazure.

All of the insects were harvested in Pincher Creek.

How well they’ll do in Flagstaff County is difficult to say, Tiberg acknowledges.

“It’s site-specific and it all depends on winter, how many overwinter,” she explains. “We’ll find that out next year when we come back to monitor.”

Flagstaff County offered a similar program roughly two decades ago, but it was discontinued.

For the past nine years, Tiberg has witnessed the evolution of the Alberta Invasive Species Council’s leafy spurge-flea beetle program. (She started with the program in 2007 as a summer student; since 2012, she’s been running it.) Over that time, the major enhancement has been establishing a local origin for the beetle supply. In the early days, the beetles were harvested in Montana and North Dakota. Nowadays, they’re 100% Alberta beetles.bettles closeup

“By using Alberta beetles, they’re already acclimatized to the area and we can get them out sooner. They’re not in storage. They’re not being transported,” explains Tiberg, who works part-time as a research technician with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, where she spends winters testing new bio-control species.

The seasoned biological control specialist recommends using flea beetles in conjunction with other methods.

In the case of spraying, Tiberg tells landowners to give the flea beetles a buffer zone of at least 10 metres.

For more information on the use of flea beetles to control leafy spurge, call Flagstaff County’s Agricultural Fieldman Kevin MacDonald at 780-384-4138 or email.  

 

Stollery Donation

stollery1 300wFlagstaff County is donating $100,000 to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Unanimously approved at last week’s regularly scheduled Council meeting, the donation is earmarked for the Foundation’s Battle River Community Initiative to help fund a new pediatric operating room at the hospital.

“The Stollery Children’s Hospital cares for kids in communities throughout Alberta and across Western Canada, and that’s why we are so incredibly thankful and proud of the fundraising our friends in Battle River are doing in support of kids and youth who rely on the expert care that only the Stollery can provide,” says Mike House, President and CEO of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. “This amazing gift from Flagstaff County will help build one of five new pediatric operating room suites at the Stollery and means more kids will get the compassionate, expert care they deserve when they journey through this newly expanded OR.”

The Battle River Community Fundraising Initiative is the product of a group of dedicated family members and others from the community. Last year, they set a goal of raising $500,000 by the end of 2016 to fund a new pediatric OR that will be named the Battle River Community Room.

Operating room redevelopment is part of an extensive expansion underway at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Plans include renovating the five current operating theatres and expanding to add five more operating theatres to improve patient care and provide timely access to all children requiring surgery.

Operating room space has been identified as a critical need at the hospital that is positioned as a western Canadian hub for pediatric cardiac surgery and organ transplants, serving one of the largest catchment areas in the world. Demand for OR space outstrips capacity, according to the latest statistics from the hospital, leading to waitlists and cancellations of critical surgeries and procedures for children and youth.  Stollery2 300w

“Many families in our region have benefited from the high quality care offered at the Stollery Children’s Hospital,” says Flagstaff County Deputy Reeve Gunnar Albrecht. “We’re happy to be partnering with the Battle River Community Initiative to help ensure that high quality care continues.”

Among the many families in Flagstaff County that rely on the Stollery are the Thompsons. Owen Thompson, now 10 years old, was born with a rare disorder known as gastroschisis in which the bowels develop on the outside of the body due to a hole in the abdominal wall. In Owen’s case, his bowels had also twisted, which was causing internal damage. So on his first day in the world, Owen underwent surgery. He was left with 35 cm of bowel; the typical length for a newborn is 265 cm.

Owen spent roughly half of the first six years of his life at the Stollery. He has 14 scars on his torso, including scars from two open heart surgeries for an unrelated condition. He is fed intravenously – something that won’t change for the rest of his life. But Owen, a student at Central High Sedgewick Public School, shows no outward signs of his long medical journey. He’s just an energetic and happy youngster.

Owen’s mom, Tammy Thompson, says the family is extremely grateful for Flagstaff County’s donation.

“It means the world to us because it feels so personal,” she explains. “We shared Owen’s story and it’s like they really heard us and felt for us and Owen. The County has always been very supportive of Owen’s situation and this really just shows what solid community support and spirit we have. It’s really very heartwarming and means so much.”

Sedgewick resident Jill Wallace, whose eight-year-old daughter Evan has undergone treatment for a blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia, echoes those sentiments.

“This donation means the world to me,” she says. “We have been in the unfortunate circumstance of needing the Stollery for long periods of time. As so many other families we know, this is an investment in taking care of our children.”

Brett Denham, of Camrose, was one of several Battle River Community Initiative committee members on hand for the cheque presentation this week at the Flagstaff County Administration Building. His six-year-old daughter Macy spent the first five months of her life at the Stollery, during which time she underwent three surgeries.

“The generous donation Flagstaff County made to the Stollery Battle River Initiative shows their vision and commitment to the health of the children in the Battle River region,” he says.

The donation will be funded from Flagstaff County’s Special Projects reserves.

To date, the Battle River Community Initiative has raised $450,000. Committee members are looking to raise just $50,000 more by the end of the year to reach their goal of $500,000. To support this initiative, donate online at www.stollerykids.com, call 1-877-393-1411 or mail a cheque to: Stollery Children’s Foundation; 800 College Plaza; 8215 112 St., Edmonton, AB; T6G 2C8. Select “Battle River Community Initiative” when donating online, or reference it when calling or mailing in your donation.

Top photo, from left to right: Flagstaff County Deputy Reeve Gunnar Albrecht, Battle River Community Initiative members and family members Nicole Denham, Cliff Denham, Brett Denham (holding Willa Denham), Brian Austrom, Jill Wallace, Tammy Thompson and Brent Thompson, and Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation Development Officer Cyndi Matthews. Front row: ‘Stollery kids’ Macy Denham, Evan Wallace and Owen Thompson.

Bottom photo: ‘Stollery kids’ Macy Denham, Evan Wallace and Owen Thompson.