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THE REDBERRY LAKE WATERSHED LABORATORY

The Prairie Waters Working Group is based near the city of Saskatoon within the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve (RLBR) in central Saskatchewan, Canada, where Redberry Lake and its closed watershed provide a unique opportunity to better understand the fundamentals of saline inland lakes on the Northern Great Plains. The fact that the region is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve means there is already an historical body of research (in this case going back 100 years to when the waters of the lake were first set aside as a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary) as well as enhanced awareness and regulation around the lake which afford a measure of protection from over-development. The lake itself is within 65 kilometers of the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and yet is relatively free from the glut of recreational use which one would reasonably expect from its location. The watershed itself is in a prairie-to-parkland transition landscape, with a substantial agricultural base interspersed with rangeland and mixed forest. The landscape and communities and agricultural industries within it, while affected to a degree by the current wet climate cycle, is not under undue stress from the flooding events that are currently impacting so much of Canada’s prairies, making it an excellent location for deliberative research and training which can be exported and/or extrapolated to the benefit of areas under stress.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

The RLBR’s association with the international network of Biosphere Reserves has opened the door for collaborations with regions of similar interests and topography, including Biosphere Reserves in Germany (where there is a formal arrangement in place) and Kazakhstan, where an MOU may soon be developed. The RLBR is also currently in the process of developing a memorandum of understanding for research with the Integrated Local Environmental Knowledge (ILEK) component of Japan’s Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.

THE WATERSHED AS A TECHNICAL LABORATORY

Redberry Lake

  • 7770 hectare mildly saline lake
  • hydrography
  • water chemistry
  • sediment sampling and mapping
  • ecology

Redberry Lake Watershed

  • mapping including bathymetry
  • wetlands and riparian ecology and monitoring
  • watershed planning
  • municipal planning