The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA)  assisted with the formation of the South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area (SWACWMA) in 2009 with support from Environment Canada. Invasive species are a transboundary problem that require cooperative solutions. SWACWMA was formed by neighboring jurisdictions including the municipalities of Cardston County and Pincher Creek, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Blood Tribe, and the Alberta Government to share knowledge, resources and occasionally manpower in the common fight to control invasive plants. WBRA continues to provide support to SWACWMA and has committed to providing a webpage for the group and assisting with communication needs.

About the South West Alberta Weed Management Area

Contributed by David Musto, Waterton Lakes National Park

Non-native invasive plants (NNIP) are impacting natural ecosystems and economies worldwide. Time and again, it has been demonstrated that NNIPs are a transboundary problem that require cooperative solutions. The need for a cooperative approach has led to the establishment of Cooperative Weed Management Areas or CWMAs.

What is a CWMA?
A Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) is a partnership of local agencies, individuals, and interest groups that work together in many ways to manage noxious weeds or invasive plants in a defined area. CWMAs are growing in popularity because they:

  • Improve relationships at the grass roots level between state, local, and federal agencies, members of the public and private groups.
  • Provide a way for groups with the common goal of controlling weeds to help each other get their jobs done in a more effective and coordinated manner.
  • Allow local weed management issues to be brought to the state and federal levels.
  • Increase local and statewide awareness of weed related issues across a broad cross section of the public.

A Cooperative Weed Management Area in South West Alberta
In 2009, a group of neighbours in the heart of Chinook Country met while their common adversaries slept under a white winter landscape. Their common weedy foes – knapweed, leafy spurge, blueweed and a host of others  pose a threat to the lands under the care of the cooperative members lands which all persons in southern Alberta enjoy and benefit from. These are our agricultural lands, rangelands, parks, and for many – ancestral lands.

Since then, members have continued to work towards formalizing the South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area (SWACWMA). Signatories to the cooperative are Cardston County, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, Blood Tribe Land Management, Waterton Lakes National Park, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Parks.  Support for the initiative has also come from the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association, Glacier National Park, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and local ranchers and other landowners.

It isn’t a new idea – this coming together to share knowledge and resources related to improving the health of the land – but this initiative is attracting some new faces as well as strengthening existing relationships and affirming a commitment to make a positive difference. All partners understand that the group will be adaptable and evolve as need and resources allow. Within this cooperative the neighbours will continue to share knowledge, resources and occasionally manpower, thereby being better prepared to deal with their weed control.

Numerous cooperative weed pulls have occurred over the past few years – there is strength in numbers. As all in the business know it is a daunting task and much can be learned through working together. The SWACWMA members encourage cooperative relationships and active participation by other organizations and individuals. Building and strengthening local partnerships with neighbours is a vital step to achieving our common goals.

Public Weed Pull Events 

Annually there are a number of community weed pull events planned around southwestern Alberta. These events are a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, while helping keep our landscape free of noxious weeds.

Knapweed Rodeo 
Help wrangle invasive Spotted Knapweed! Free BBQ-style lunch for those who RSVP
July 22nd, 2017
Waterton Lakes National Park
9am – 4pm
More information can be found here.

10th Annual West Castle Wetlands Ecological Reserve Weed Pull
Become a ‘weeder’ and join our crew for the day, this would be a great team activity for your work or volunteer group. Please bring a lunch, drinking water, sun screen and insect repellent, some refreshments will be supplied.
July 25th, 2017
Meet at the Castle Mountain Resort parking lot at 9:30 am. This event is sponsored by Alberta Environment and Parks together with the Castle Crown Wilderness Association. 
Contact Wendy Ryan at 403-627-4106 or via email at office@ccwc.ab.ca for further information and to register.  You can also view the event page on Facebook here.

Journey to Blind Canyon – Nature Conservancy of Canada Event
Join NCC and the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (CCWC) on a stunning hike into Blind Canyon to tackle invasive weeds on this site which, while remote, is not immune to encroachment from invasive plants.
August 10th, 2017
Blind Canyon – south of Twin Butte, AB
9am – 4pm
For more information and to register click here. 



blood tribe
AESRD   alberta-parks-logonature-conservancy-logo




 Photos from the partners in the South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area