Wetland Replacement Program (WRP)
Smoky Lake County values the biological diversity within the natural environment and is committed to conserving a healthy, connected and well-managed ecological network. Our conservation goal includes restoring and rehabilitating degraded natural resources, where practical.
Wetlands are a vital part of Alberta’s ecological landscape and necessary for a sustainable economy and healthy communities. Smoky Lake County seeks to minimize or reverse wetland loss, conserve existing wetland resources, convey the importance of wetlands to developers, industry, and the public through education initiatives, and restore watershed function through wetland restoration projects.
The goal of the Wetland Replacement Program is to replace wetlands and mitigate historical wetland losses within Smoky Lake County. The funds collected, because of lost wetlands within our jurisdiction, can now be accessed and applied to restoration and replacement projects on County landscapes.
The vision, mission, goals, and policies of Smoky Lake County align with the goals and purpose of the WRP.
We believe the Wetland Replacement Program can reinforce our role as an innovative municipality with a strong commitment to conserving our natural landscape and the biodiversity of our ecosystems.
Do you think your property would make a good candidate to participate in the Wetland Replacement Program? Contact Planning & Development Services at 780-656-3730.
Frequently asked questions:
Who runs the Wetland Replacement Program?
The WRP is a provincial program run by Alberta Environment and Parks. Wetland replacement projects will be implemented by municipalities, such as Smoky Lake County, in accordance with individual MOUs that are signed with the Province.
Smoky Lake County has signed an MOU with the Province for an initial term of three years.
Where are the funds for the Wetland Replacement Program coming from?
In the past, as per provincial and municipal policy, mitigation funds due to wetland areas lost to development were provided directly to Ducks Unlimited Canada. Those funds were dedicated to priority wetland restoration projects across the province.
With the newly developed program, those funds previously collected and managed by Ducks Unlimited Canada are now available directly to Smoky Lake County and can be applied to restoration and replacement projects on our landscape.
What is the priority for the Wetland Replacement Program?
A priority of the Alberta Wetland Policy and WRP is to replace wetlands within municipalities and watersheds that have had the highest amount of lost wetland area and value since 2015, as well as areas of high historical loss.
Smoky Lake County has been identified by AEP as a high-priority area for wetland restoration.
What will Wetland Replacement Projects look like?
The Planning & Development Services Department will take the lead in identifying potential projects, bring them forward to Council for approval, and help guide the projects through to completion.
Come back to this page for updates on new projects!
Why are wetlands are important?
They support our wellbeing - Rural and urban wetlands give us places to exercise, reflect, relax and connect with nature which all have proven health benefits.
They support biodiversity - In Alberta, wetlands and riparian habitats are home to 80% of our wildlife.
Filter water - Wetlands remove sediment, excess nutrients and pollutants from our water.
Moderate climate change - Plants and soil in wetlands capture and store carbon from the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen.
Recharge groundwater – Some water from the wetlands soaks into the ground and helps recharge our aquifers.
Reduce the effects of drought – Wetlands hold water during snowmelt and rain events then slowly release moisture to parched land during drier weather.
Control Flooding – During periods of high rainfall, wetlands store excess water and slowly release it downstream.
Support the Economy - Wetlands provide opportunities for tourism, bird watching, nature photography, hunting, fishing and other activities.