We are the voice of our rivers.

Riverbank Makeover Project

Riverbank Makeover 2018 restoration site

In 2018, CRV partnered with a river-adjacent homeowner to restore a section of the Elbow River riparian area for Phase 1 of our Riverbank Makeover Project. In 2019, Phase 2 involves monitoring the success of the 2018 restored site, as well as restoring another riparian area along the Elbow River. This project is supported by funding from City of Calgary Water Resources.

What is a Riparian Area & What Does It Do?

Riparian is from the Latin root, ripa, meaning bank, i.e. riverbank. A riparian area is the transition zone between the river and the rest of the land. It is a specialized area that has wetter soil than the surrounding land and will support water-loving vegetation. It can vary in width, depending on the width of the river or water body, as well as the slope of the surrounding lands. When the riparian area is healthy with a variety of deep-rooted vegetation it will prevent erosion of the riverbank, improve water quality by filtering run-off from the land and absorbing excess river sediment, reduce river energy during high water events, absorb high water and later release it (like a sponge), and provide excellent habitat for wildlife including shade for fish.

Did You Know?

Most experts agree that hard surfaces on the riverbank like large bare rocks or retaining walls are not the best method of reducing the energy of floodwater as these can just rebound the water’s energy and damage another part of the riverbank. Also, the soil in between the rocks or underneath the wall can be washed away by floodwater, defeating its purpose. A better way to reduce the energy of floodwater and ensure the health of the riparian area is to have deep-rooted riparian plants along the river’s edge. However, if the retaining wall or large rocks can’t be removed, it would help to restore the health of the riparian area to plant deep-rooted plants adjacent to a retaining wall and in between the large rocks.  During high water and flood events these types of plants help to absorb and reduce the force of the water, stabilize the riverbank, and prevent erosion.

Phase 1 Garden Tour & Phase 2 Gardening Volunteer Opportunity

On August 22, 2019 we held our garden tour of the river-adjacent site that CRV restored in 2018 during Phase 1 of our Riverbank Makeover Project, and spoke to attendees about Phase 2 of our project for this year. We are recruiting volunteers to help plant riparian plants at this year’s selected Riverbank Makeover site, with a planned date for planting of September 17. Volunteers will be working alongside CRV representatives and riparian plant experts, and will learn about riparian plants and planting techniques. The Phase 2 “Riverbank Makeover reveal” will be set for a date shortly after planting. Contact us for full details by email to participate in the volunteer planting date or attend the “Riverbank Makeover reveal” date.


Elbow River Brown Trout Redd Count Project

This project involves a visual survey of Brown Trout spawning sites (“Redds”) in two sections of the Elbow River. First, in the Upper Elbow, we survey a section along an approximately 6 km reach from the Glencoe Golf Course to the Elbow Springs Golf Course. Second, in the Lower Elbow, the survey is conducted in the approximately 12 km reach from the Glenmore Dam to where the Elbow meets the Bow River at Fort Calgary. Each Brown Trout Redd survey or count is conducted in November, following the typical spawning season for Brown Trout. To complete the Redd Count on both the Lower Elbow (below the dam) and Upper Elbow (above the dam) in 2019, Calgary River Valleys received funding from the Land Stewardship Centre and from the City of Calgary.

Lower Elbow River Brown Trout Redd Count 2018

Citizen Science Volunteer Opportunity – Come for a Walk in the River!

Calgary River Valleys is again offering a unique volunteer opportunity, to participate in our annual citizen science project to count the “redds” (spawning nests) of Brown Trout in the Elbow River. This redd data is one indicator of river health over time, and has been used by the City of Calgary & Alberta Environment & Parks to help determine the impacts of the 2013 flood on spawning habitat, and what river locations would best support spawning habitat restoration.

Our Brown Trout Redd Counts take place in November, after the river is cold enough to trigger spawning. This project will be under the direction of CRV’s volunteer biologist advisers, and involves walking and rafting in the river, identifying, geo-locating and counting the redds. Everything will be provided for volunteers, including chest waders, PFDs (life-jackets), and a hot lunch on shore. Contact us by email to express your interest or to get more information. Limited spots are available.