A Tale Of Two Trout Streams

Yesterday, I traveled into Calgary to take a few photos of the 2019 willow crop that we planted and the same was done for the Bighill Creek, which has plants from 2019 and 2020. There was a stark contrast in the water quality of both trout streams. West Nose Creek was a pathetic muddy mess for water quality, and Bighill Creek was the complete opposite, with clear, clean water flowing in the channel.

It is criminal what the land owners do to that creek, before it enters the city. The majority of land owners that live and make their living along the West Nose Creek could give a dam about what the creek’s condition is, as long as it provides water for their cattle. This is what years of abuse can do to a wild trout stream. The water flowing on July 26th, 2020 was like a mud puddle in motion. Cattle were watering in the stream channel upstream, making a pathetic mess for all living life in the creek, downstream.

I took this photo of our willow plants along the far bank of the West Nose Creek, in Calgary. You can see how disgusting the water quality is. It really is pathetic how land owners treat this stream, after it has provided for them for many years. Them and other generations before, didn’t seem to consider the creek as being important for anything, other than their own needs.
This is Bighill Creek, on the same day. You can see the difference in water clarity and our willow planting from over the years. The landowners along the Bighill Creek’s upper reaches have been far better stewards of the land and creek, for many years. They recognize the creek has an important other role to play, in the natural world.

Both the Dogpound Creek and the Bighill Creek have received the loving attention that they need to remain a natural wild trout stream, but West Nose Creek in Calgary and upstream, have been left to a slow disintegration from abuse and little attention or interest. It is surprising that the city of Calgary would let this creek degrade to such a poor state. Measures should have been taken many years ago to help landowners benefit from an education about the health of the stream that flows thru their property, and livestock management that could help the creek recover.

It is not rocket science to create off channel watering sites for cattle. It just takes a little time and money to set up solar powered pumps and watering tanks to keep the cattle out of the stream. You also need someone with some people skills to help encourage this direction in land management. Both the county of Rockyview and the city of Calgary have neglected to carry out this task. I suppose the job is just too difficult for their environmental departments to handle.

Both the Dogpound Creek and Bighill Creek are success stories that should be used as a pilot for any other stream protection measures. Yes, it does take time and money, but the quicker we recognize that the sooner we start to protect these wild trout streams, the quicker the recovery for future generations to enjoy.

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