Ranching in Alberta's Headwaters

Grazing & Riparian Health: A Good News Story

Cows and Fish and the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS) worked with ranchers in two headwater streams of the Bow and Oldman Rivers to look at riparian health trends where grazing was the main land use. The sites had been assessed twice before over the last 20 years.

This public focused video highlights the compatibility of ranching with a healthy watershed.  Sustainable grazing practices play a vital role in protecting our water sources.


This producer focused video highlights some success stories from ranchers in the foothills who have been able to maintain or improve riparian health over time.

Ranching in Alberta’s Headwaters Infographic

The goal of the project was to compare historical baseline riparian health data collected by Cows and Fish (15‐20 years ago) with new information at the same sites. In addition, as part of the project we collected information from landowners and partners regarding their management practices during this time along with other range or riparian health reports. In some cases, this information was also enhanced by the completion of detailed grazing management plans. With the updated riparian health alongside the management information, the idea was to explore trends and the factors that influenced them.

Overall, the project results were very positive!

  • Average riparian health was well above the provincial average
  • There had been a significant improvement in riparian health over 20 years

The study has shown that:

  • Grazing can be compatible with good riparian health AND improve riparian health over time
  • Ranchers who adapt and apply beneficial grazing management practices are key to success

Funding for this project was provided by the Samuel Hanen Society for Resource Conservation. A huge thank-you to SALTS for partnering on this project with us, and another thank-you to the Jumpingpound Creek Watershed Partnership for being one of our key partners and providing support and information for the project.

Download the project summary fact sheet. Or order it from our Publications Page. You can also view the mobile friendly infographic.

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Oil painting of an aerial view of a riparian area