November 7, 2018

And the winners are…

Emerald Awards: Shared Footprints Recipient -  Riverwatch Institute of Alberta Creekwatch Science & Stewardship Presented by Alberta Real Estate Foundation

The Alberta Emerald Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation celebrate our province’s environmental achievements.

Since 1992, the Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF) has showcased and inspired environmental excellence across all sectors in our province through the Emerald Awards. The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is a longtime supporter of the AEF and the Emeralds, specifically the Shared Footprints category.

The Shared Footprints Award recognizes and celebrates projects that go beyond normal land management practices to have a positive impact on the environment. Recipients of the Shared Footprints Award have demonstrated land and water stewardship, built shared knowledge, improved air quality and reduced land disturbances.

The AEF presented the 27th Annual Emerald Awards on June 5, 2018 at Calgary’s Theatre Junction Grand. Here are the EcoHeroes recognized through the Shared Footprints category.

EMERALD AWARD RECIPIENT: The RiverWatch Institute of Alberta for Creekwatch Citizen Science and Stewardship

Have you ever wondered where rain and snow melt goes beyond the storm drain? Some assume such water is treated and then sent out into the river, but that’s not the case. Now, thanks to CreekWatch, citizen scientists are finding out exactly what pollutants are in these water sources—everything from concrete and plastic to garbage and animal droppings.

A spinoff of the popular RiverWatch program, a student-focused and province-wide endeavour, CreekWatch started in 2014. Utilizing municipal and provincial water monitoring expertise and HSBC water program funding, and overseen by government and watershed groups, CreekWatch volunteer citizen scientists in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Cochrane and beyond use RiverWatch’s specialized kits to collect and report data from urban creeks.

In its four-year history, CreekWatch has focused on storm water drainage, noting increased levels of phosphorous, but also finding road salt, bacteria, chemicals and invasive plants. CreekWatch also provides data for Alberta Environment’s yearly report card ranking creeks. In 2016, CreekWatch volunteers detected a stormwater plastics spill along Calgary’s Bow River—a major spill of a half-million industrial plastic pellets scattered along 10 kilometres of riverbank that led to a 760-hour shoreline remediation.

Last year, 81 volunteers took up the challenge with CreekWatch, and participated in stewardship events like shore line clean up, invasive weed removal and tree planting.

EMERALD AWARD FINALIST: Devon Canada for Regional Caribou Collaboration

The Regional Industry Caribou Collaboration (RICC) was born of necessity. Because boreal woodland caribou are a threatened species, and because their large ranges overlap with oil, gas and timber resources in Alberta, a group of energy and forestry companies in the Cold Lake and East Side Athabasca River (ESAR) caribou ranges of northeast Alberta chose to go beyond individual efforts.

Formed in 2012 when Devon Canada Corp. committed to lead a coalition of companies operating in caribou ranges to address mitigations at a regional level, the RICC works across tenure and lease boundaries to coordinate habitat restoration and conduct research on caribou ecology and landscape relationships. The Government of Alberta has called the RICC a model for caribou range planning in the province.

Resource companies in Alberta are required to implement mitigation for habitat loss, fragmentation and mortality. In the case of boreal caribou, that means meeting population and habitat objectives, including landscape conditions of 65 per cent undisturbed habitat per range. For the wide-ranging caribou, the RICC has created habitat restoration treatments on over 1,000 linear kilometres of industrial footprint. These treatments include human access control, mounding and planting of seedlings, and research on the movement rates of wolves.

RICC has also created interactive mapping portals of data on industrial development, wildlife telemetry locations and wildfire occurrences, with extensive wildlife monitoring to quantify responses to restoration treatments.

Spreading the good news.

The AEF works year-round to showcase and inspire environmental excellence in Alberta. Beyond the Emerald Awards program, the AEF’s programs include Sharing Stories, The Emerald Speakers Series, Emerald Days, the Emerald Speakers Series, and Youth Environmental Engagement Grants.

Through AREF’s support, the AEF shares the recipient of the Shared Footprints category’s story through publications in MacLeans, Canadian Business, and Avenue Magazine in both Edmonton and Calgary. By showcasing the ingenuity, dedication and hard work of the recipients, the AEF hopes to inspire others to become stewards of the environment.

The AEF would like to thank the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for their ongoing support of the Emerald Awards. Through recognizing and celebrating environmental excellence, Albertans will benefit from a healthier, environmentally secure future.

To learn more about the AEF, its programs, to make a donation, and to see the full list of 27th Annual Emerald Award recipients and finalists, visit

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