Celebrating 30 years of Stewardship!

In 2024, the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) and Conservation Halton (CH) are celebrating a partnership that has produced 30 years of stewardship success.

What is stewardship?

Stewardship means caring for the land to maintain it in a healthy state for today and future generations. In Hamilton and Halton, private landowners have a long history of caring for natural areas and have made significant contributions to conserving nature and biodiversity.

HCA’s History of Stewardship

In 1987, several conservation organizations formed the Natural Heritage Stewardship Program to recognize the important role private landowners play in protecting natural areas. Managed by the University of Guelph, the program’s initial focus was contacting landowners of Niagara Escarpment sites with remnant or high-quality natural areas. The hope was that after the pilot’s funding was finished, both the community and funding agencies would see the benefits of long-term coordinated conservation efforts.

Recognizing the crucial role private landowners play in the protection of natural areas, HCA began developing a program to establish a watershed-wide Stewardship and Conservation Advisory Services Program.

The program’s goal was to protect, conserve, and improve the watershed’s biodiversity, soil, and water resources. To achieve this, it provided a ‘one-stop-shop’ conservation advisory service to the public, educating private landowners with the necessary technical advice to become good stewards and recognizing them for their stewardship.

By 1993, this program had grown into the “Hamilton Harbour Watershed Stewardship Landowner Contact Program.” It then joined forces with Conservation Halton and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC), engaging landowners towns, cities, schools, and business in restoration and stewardship activities. This partnership morphed into the Hamilton Harbour Watershed Stewardship Project.

Finally, in May 1994, the Hamilton-Halton Watershed Stewardship Program (HHWSP) was formally created with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to protect, enhance, and restore environmentally significant natural areas. By 1999, HCA and CH expanded their efforts beyond the Hamilton Harbour Watershed.

Stewardship events and activities through the years

Making a Difference

Private land stewardship is at the heart of any watershed management program. As so much of the watershed is privately owned, property owners truly do make a difference in protecting water quality and improving habitat quality and quantity. Thanks to HHWSP, the link between Hamilton Harbour and Lake Ontario conditions and the activities of upstream landowners has been effectively raised.

Over 4,000 landowners in Hamilton and Halton have taken steps to protect and restore precious watershed natural areas, creeks, and streams. Together, we have achieved remarkable results by:

  • Providing personalized, on-site guidance for water and habitat restoration
  • Connecting landowners with funding for conservation projects
  • Encouraging landowners to make ‘handshake’ agreements to protect natural areas on their properties
  • Fostering collaboration between private landowners on neighbouring properties
  • Hosting presentations, booths, and workshops on a variety of stewardship topics
  • Celebrating excellence with annual awards that honour outstanding land management efforts

Continuing initiatives like watershed studies, source protection planning, and natural heritage strategies are in full swing. We continue to actively collaborate and partner with local organizations, landowners, and the community in the program’s mission to protect, rehabilitate, and monitor our local watersheds. Together, we are creating a vibrant sustainable future!

Restored property from 2005 to 2023

Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program celebrates 30 years!

Today, Hamilton and Halton stewardship and outreach staff continue to work on water quality and habitat enhancements. The Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program (HWSP) is guided by HCA’s Strategic Plan 2019-2023, as well as Stewardship Action Plans, created in partnership with community stakeholders.

As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations, the HWSP is unveiling a new logo to commemorate the occasion, and there will be a Project Tour on July 27 in both watersheds to review restoration projects big and small. Stay tuned for more info!

Become a Land Steward – Get in Touch!

Join us in this dynamic journey to make a lasting impact! If you’re a private landowner residing in the HCA or CH watersheds and would like to learn more, please contact:

Hamilton Conservation Authority
Jeff Stock
Watershed Stewardship Technician
905-525-2181 ext.196

Conservation Halton
Christine Bowen
Restoration Technical Lead
905-336-1158 ext.2299

Not sure which watershed in which you reside? Use this handy Map from Conservation Ontario.




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