By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
A watershed is an area of land where all of the surface water in it ends up in the same place, usually a river, lake, or even the ocean.
The County of Paintearth lies inside the Battle River Watershed, one of seven watersheds in Alberta.
Tasked with the protection of the watershed is the Battle River Watershed Alliance, a non-governmental organization designated by the province of Alberta as Watershed Planning Advisory Council for Battle River and Sounding Creek.
Through education and outreach the Battle River Watershed Alliance teaches community members the importance of protecting these environments, and as part of the education is the annual Watershed Festival.
This year it was held at Big-Knife Provincial Park on Aug. 17th.
“I’m really happy with the turn-out,” said Battle River Watershed Alliance member Sarah Skinner.
“It’s a great-turn out for us. It’s a great way to get people out enjoying the watershed.”
Around 70 people came out to the free event.
A free hot dog and saskatoon pie lunch was provided to all, and there were many activities available for people to check out including canoeing, a guided hike with a professional biologist, a story area and more.
Although there were many activities happening around the park as part of the festival, in keeping with the educational theme of the day, a pair of information booths were set up as well.
The first tent featured information presented by Master Herbalist Crystal Wilmot of Lacombe about the uses of different herbs, many of which can be grown within the region.
Wilmot grew up in the north, becoming a medicine woman for the Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations before going back to school and becoming an herbalist.
Members from Beaverhill Bird Observatory, which is located just East of Tofield, were onhand in the second booth providing information about their songbird and Saw-Whet owl migration studies and bird banding.
Rickie, a two-year-old Saw-Whet owl with whom the public was allowed to interact, was also onhand.
Saw-Whet owls are the second smallest species of owl in the province.
Meanwhile, the Festival has run for several years, moving to a different region of the watershed every year.