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by Ann Sullivan
Picture the vast Alberta wilderness – seemingly endless hectares of rolling plains, gentle foothills and steep mountains, each area braided by creeks, streams and rivers that change with the seasons and the years. Now picture the thousands of natural and built crossings: the bridges, culverts and fords that allow access to both sides of a waterway. What if you were take inventory of all the watercourse crossings in Alberta? It’s an ambitious project, but one that the provincial government has set in motion with the creation of a user-friendly app.
If all goes according to plan, the Alberta Watercourse Crossing Inventory (ABWCI) app, developed by Alberta Environment and Parks and launched in February 2020, will eventually document all stream crossings in Alberta. The information gathered will help further the goals of the province’s Watercourse Crossing Program (WCP), which aims to address threats to fish survival from poorly maintained and constructed crossings.
The beauty of the ABWCI app, according to Lesley Peterson, an Alberta provincial biologist with Trout Unlimited Canada, is that it’s accessible and simple to use. “This is something that can be used by anybody on any crossing,” Peterson said. “There’s just so many roads and trails out there,” she added. “Incorporating a citizen scientist component is such a good idea.”