Integrated Watershed Management Planning in Manitoba Progress:
An integrated watershed management plan (IWMP) is a document developed cooperatively by government and stakeholders (watershed residents, interest groups) aimed at creating shared goals to manage land, water and related resources on a watershed basis. In Manitoba, Conservation Districts usually lead plan development.The purpose of an IWMP is to identify priority land and water-related issues in the watershed, determine projects or policies targeted to address the issues, and identify how land and water management programming will be cooperatively carried out throughout the watershed. Conservation District programming is directed by the policies and actions outlined in local integrated watershed management plans.A watershed-based approach to land and water management provides benefits that include: understanding how activities on the landscape influence water quality and quantity, fostering a connection to the landscape we live in, and ensuring activities upstream are respectful of downstream residents. Effective integrated watershed management planning is important in managing water and land development and maintaining a healthy and sustainable watershed community.For more detailed information on Integrated Watershed Management Planning within Manitoba, please visit Manitoba Water Stewardship’s website: http://www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/iwmp/index.html
Alonsa Conservation District
The Alonsa Conservation District was established in 1978, and has been involved in a wide range of resource management programs since it’s inception. Although extremely active in areas such as fisheries enhancement, permanent cover establishment, historical preservation and tourism promotion. The initial reason for the establishment of the District was to deal with issues pertaining to agricultural drainage
The District operates and maintains over 520 miles of agricultural drains along with all the associated crossing infrastructure. The District’s varied program activities, such as Channel Maintenance, Crossing Repair and Replacement Program, Pickerel Spawning Project, Forage Seed Program, Forestry and Wildlife programs, Tree Planting Projects, Sustainable Development Educational Extension Programs and development of Board’s commitment to carry out its mandate of conserving, sustaining, and preserving all the diverse resources which make this area unique and keep the local economy strong.
The Alonsa Conservation District, which lies along the western shores of Lake Manitoba, encompasses approximately 445,000 ha. Soil and water management decisions are made mostly on the basis of resource conservation environmental awareness. Alonsa Conservation District is in the process of developing an Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
Garter Snake Pit/Hibernaculum, Alex Robertson Museum, Portia Marsh Wilderness Site, Amaranth Trail Site, Thunderbird Nest Site, Medicine Rock Site, Ceremonial Site, Lady slippers Viewing site, Dog Trail, Bluff Creek Trail, Bacon Ridge Nature Trail, Lonely Lake Fish Hatchery, Jackpine Wayside Park, Preston Heritage Park.
Assiniboine Hills Conservation District
Assiniboine Hills Conservation District (AHCD) was established in 2008 after a series of meetings between the Mid Assiniboine River and Tiger Hills Conservation Districts. The partial merger and expansion with new partners was the preliminary steps in the movement to provide an actual watershed boundary alignment. The new district covers approximately 6,349 km2 and is located in southwest Manitoba. With the current expansion/merger the district occupies the RMs of Argyle, Cornwallis, Glenwood, Oakland, Riverside, South Cypress, Strathcona, and Whitewater. It also includes the Town of Souris and Villages of Glenboro and Wawanesa.
Along with its partners AHCD is committed to manage water and environmental resources to promote a healthy watershed and a sustainable lifestyle for current and future generations. This will lead to a future where communities, agriculture and the environment are healthy, sustainable and in balance with one another.
In balance with our programs and projects with landowners we provide educational activities to 6 public schools and 10 colony schools within our district.
Some of our most popular events with schools are Southwest Manitoba Water Festival, in partnership with two other CDs; Ice Fishing Days; and sponsorship of Oak Hammock Marsh.
With support from Manitoba Water Stewardship we are in the preliminary stages of the Integrated Water Management Plan for the Central Assiniboine and Lower Souris Watersheds. The expectation is to complete this plan within two years through a series of public, agency and municipal meetings.
Cooks Creek Conservation District
Cooks Creek Conservation District was formed in 1979 to address local soil and water conservation issues. The District lies east of Winnipeg and includes the majority of the Cooks Creek Watershed which discharges into the Red River Basin as well as parts of the Carr’s Creek and the Lower Seine River watersheds, which both flow into the Red River Floodway. The District covers a large amount of the Rural Municipality of Springfield and smaller portions of the municipalities of Taché, Ste. Anne, Brokenhead, and Reynolds.
The Mandate of the District is to encourage and support ongoing management of conservation practices that enhance and maintain quality of life and to help build sustainable communities through integrated land and water management.
The District offers numerous water and soil based conservation-programs. The main focus is surface water management.
An Eastern Upland area and a Central Lowland area distinguish the topography and soils of the District. The highest point in the District is located in the southeast with an elevation of 304 meters above sea level. The lowest point in the District is located in the northwest with an elevation of 234 meters above sea level. The topography also indicates the drainage pattern within the District. An extensive man-made drainage system services the agricultural lands in the District. The district was given the mandate to maintain and improve the existing provincial and municipal drainage when it was incorporated on September 1, 1979.
The Cooks Creek Conservation District is currently working on a trail system that is under construction. Please contact the District for information.
East Interlake Conservation District
East Interlake Conservation District (EICD) is a local organization whose role is to provide residents of the Interlake the resources they need to help improve the health of their local watersheds. EICD does this through education, research and monitoring, program delivery, watershed planning and coordination of partnerships. EICD is here to help you live in and enjoy, a healthy environment for years to come.
Riparian protection through funding support for:
Buffer-strip establishment, Off-stream watering systems, Riparian enhancements, Exclusion fencing
Subsidized compost bins, Subsidized rain barrels
Habitat protection and enhancement
Sealing of abandoned wells
Nuisance flowing well remediation
Door-to-door well water testing
Local schools, International conferences, Trade conventions, Local municipalities
Interlake Water Days:
An educational field-trip for local students to learn more about water & aboriginal culture.
RESEARCH & MONITORING
Buffer-Strip Nutrient Abatement
In partnership with the University of Manitoba, the Province of Manitoba and AESB , we are studying the ability of grassed strips to remove nitrogen and phosphorous along waterways.
Municipal Lagoon Effluent Treatment
To foster innovative alternatives to discharging lagoon effluent directly into our waterways, EICD has sponsored a research project into effluent irrigation and the study of nutrients in wastewater.
Stream Water Quality
In partnership with the Province of Manitoba, 9 Interlake streams are sampled at 25 different sites on a quarterly basis. Summarized results are available on our website.
Benthic Invertebrate Monitoring
In partnership with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, monitoring of water-bugs is done annually in 8 streams to assess overall watershed health.
In order to understand surface water flow in our district, EICD has completed detailed surveys in a number of waterways throughout the district. This data is being digitized for easily accessible viewing for all residents and stakeholders using Google Earth and can be viewed on our website under Waterway Survey.
Intermountain Conservation District
IMCD was established in 1997. The district covers approximately 7,200 km2 (720,079 ha) and is located in west central Manitoba. The district occupies the RMs of Dauphin, Gilbert Plains, Grandview, Ethelbert, Mossey River and Mountain South. It also includes the City of Dauphin, the Towns of Grandview and Gilbert Plains and the Villages of Ethelbert and Winnipegosis. Sustainable resource management within the district’s watershed areas is the overall objective of the district, with the primary focus being soil and water conservation. There is also significant emphasis placed on educational initiatives in schools and throughout the district. Some programs include streambank stabilization, abandoned well capping, grassed runways construction or repair, forage seed assistance, livestock watering systems, tree planting projects, and riparian zone management.
Integrated Watershed Management Plans
IMCD is currently involved with the development of the East Duck Mountain/Sagemace Bay IWMP. Development of the Dauphin Lake IWMP was initiated in the fall of 2010 in cooperation with the Turtle River Watershed Conservation District.
IMCD is currently developing an interpretive educational trail at its office and yard site. In early fall, an annual water festival brings out schools from the area to take part in activity stations to learn about water and watershed issues. An information library is being developed in the office to provide information to all watershed residents.
La Salle Redboine Conservation District
LSRBCD was established in 2002. 37,000 residents reside within the
7,000 km2 of agricultural land, located in south-central Manitoba. Currently the district occupies the RMs of Victoria, South Norfolk, Portage, Grey, Macdonald, Cartier, Dufferin, and the portion of Ritchot west of the Red River. It also includes the City of Portage la Prairie and the towns of Carman, St Claude, and Treherne.
Abandoned well sealing, water retention, gully erosion repairs, and pasture management are staple programs delivered each season. Reduction of sedimentation and associated nutrients from the soils eroding into the La Salle River, Boyne River and other waterways as well as slowing surface water flows are among the District’s core programs. Flood control water retention for local supply and wildlife habitat with the added value of nutrient and sediment capture is a focus for significant portions of the District.
Partnerships with our school divisions and colonies assist them in delivering their curriculum with local examples. Educational wetlands and natural areas have been developed for use by schools and the public to improve their understanding of the connection between the environment and human impact.
Increased commercial and recreational fishing opportunities are anticipated from improvements to Delta Marsh and other important wetlands along Lake Manitoba. With more aquatic organisms and submerged vegetation, waterfowl production will be enhanced for local and visiting birdwatchers and hunters.
The La Salle River Integrated Watershed Management Plan was completed in 2011, and is now in the implementation phase. The plan is a guide to issues and problems put forth by landowners and stakeholders in the watershed and contains recommendations on methods of dealing with those issues. The Stephenfield Lake Watershed Management Plan was completed in 2005 and has been in the implementation stage for a number of years.
– The Cypress River Wetland Interpretive Trail (#2 Hwy at Cypress River).
– Pinkerton Lakes Wildlife Refuge (9 km south of Treherne on #242)
– St Claude Wetland Classroom – under development (#2 Hwy at St Claude; #240 south 0.5 km at railroad tracks)
Lake of the Prairies Conservation District
LPCD first joined the Conservation District Program in 2001. The district is located in the Parkland region of Manitoba, between Riding Mountain National Park and the Saskatchewanborder. The district occupies the RMs of Shell River, Shellmouth-Boulton, Russell, Silver Creek and includes the Village of Binscarth and towns of Russell and Roblin. LPCD has recently completed Integrated Watershed Management Plans (IWMP) for both the Shell River and the Birdtail-Assiniboine Watersheds.
This year the Conservation District has narrowed down its programming. We’ve selected the top four programs used by district residents in years past. We hope to be more efficient and productive with program delivery. The four programs currently offered are; Erosion Control, Abandoned Well Sealing, Riparian Stewardship, and Alternate Watering Systems.
As a district we’re also involved with supplying many different educational opportunities for both kids and adults. We coordinate as well as host many different events, anything from guest speakers to our annual eco camps.
If you have any questions in regards to our district please feel free to contact the district office.
Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District
LSRCD was established in 1999. The District covers approximately 4,200 km2 (420,000 ha) and is located in southwestern Manitoba. The District encompasses the majority of the Little Saskatchewan River watershed and a portion of the Arrow-Oak River watershed, which are both part of the larger Assiniboine River Basin. Unique features of our watersheds include the prairie pothole landscape, significant slopes, steep valley walls, and an abundance of wildlife. Programs available address the priorities in the Little Saskatchewan River and Arrow-Oak River Integrated Watershed Management Plans. The priorities are surface water quality, safe drinking water, managing surface water while minimizing impacts, groundwater quality and quantity, and natural areas. Significant emphasis is placed on educational initiatives to all residents of the District through information days, tours, providing resources to our municipal partners and local libraries, school activities, and camp programs. The District successfully coordinated the preparation of the Little Saskatchewan River Integrated Watershed Management Plan. The plan was endorsed by the Minister of Water Stewardship in July 2011. Jointly with the Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District, the District prepared an integrated watershed management plan for the Arrow River and Oak River watershed. The plan was endorsed by the Minister of Water Stewardship in June 2011.
Within our watersheds, you can experience and/or learn about nature by travelling down one of the many trails, fishing and boating on the rivers and lakes, or camping at any one of the publicly or privately owned campgrounds.
Pembina Valley Conservation District
Pembina Valley Conservation District
Pembina Valley Conservation District (PVCD) was officially established by Order In Council (cabinet resolution) on October 2, 1989; the CD covers approximately 1.2 million acres (1994 sq. miles) and is located in southwestern Manitoba. The original members were the Rural Municipalities of Lorne, Louise, Pembina and Thompson; they have since been joined by the villages/towns of Crystal City, Manitou, Pilot Mound, Cartwright and Morden (2007) and the RM of Roblin (1997) and the RM of Stanley (2003). Pembina Valley was the sixth CD to be formed in Manitoba since 1972, there have since been twelve more additions.
The primary reasons for forming the CD involved concerns with the loss of valuable topsoil through wind and water erosion in the area. Water shortages for local farmers, and erosion of municipal roads, have also been persistent problems. The establishment and operation of a CD has provided local landowners with technical and financial assistance, to participate in the kind of soil and water conservation programs that they feel are needed.
Some of the CDs programs are: small dam construction, backflood gates, grassed waterways, abandoned well filling, water testing, forage and salinity seed programs, gully and streambank stabilization, tree planting, pasture pipeline plow rental and dugout pumping equipment rental.
The CD is currently working on an Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Pembina River along with the Assiniboine Hills and Turtle Mountain Conservation Districts and Manitoba Water Stewardship.
The CD owns Binney Interpretative Nature Preserve located 2 miles west and 2 miles north of Manitou. This park is open to the public so you may go “Critter Dipping” from our boardwalks, go bird watching, look at all the different types of wild flowers, have a scenic view from our lookout tower or just have a picnic and enjoy this natural setting.
The CD is currently developing the Alexander Ridge Park located on Highway #23, 3.5 miles west of Miami. The Trans Canada Trial goes through this park; there is a viewing tower to overlook the gorgeous Pembina Escarpment and a picnic area.
Seine-Rat River Conservation District
The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) was formed 2002 with only the RM of La Broquerie as a partner municipality. The SRRCD has since grown to include the rural municipalities of Ste. Anne, Hanover, De Salaberry, Richot, Stuartburn, Reynolds, Montcalm, Franklin, City of Steinbach, the towns of Ste. Anne, and Niverville, and the Village of St. Pierre-Jolys. In the summer of 2011 the RM of Piney voted to join the SRRCD, leaving only the RM of Morris out.
The SRRCD is composed of two main watersheds, the Seine River Watershed and the Rat River Watershed. The four sub-watersheds that all drain into the Seine River Watershed are the Upper Seine River, Lower Seine River, Tourond Creek, and Manning Canal. The three sub-watersheds that contribute to the Rat River Watershed are the Upper Rat River, Lower Rat River/Joubert Creek, and Marsh River watersheds.
The SRRCD is located southeast of Winnipeg and is home to over 50,000 people. The SRRCD offers a full line of water management programs, focusing on both surface and groundwater management initiatives. One of the main objectives lies in creating water retention projects to hold back water during spring run-off to alleviate flooding downstream and provide greater aquifer recharge areas upstream. Both objectives increase water quality on the surface and sub-surface overall. The SRRCD also provides funding to seal old and abandoned wells that provide a point of entry for contaminants into groundwater; to purchase alternative watering systems and riparian fencing to keep livestock out of creeks and rivers; and to monitor well water in rural homes throughout the district are among the most popular programs.
Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District
The Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District was formed in 2006 and programming started in 2007 once staff were in place. The district covers approximately 4300 km/2 between the Duck and Porcupine Mountains, with the Province of Saskatchewan on the western boundary and the Swan Lake lowlands to the east. District is governed by four sub-watersheds with 26 sub-district members. The landscape below the escarpments referred to as the Swan River Plains is one of the most productive agricultural areas of the province. The district works closely with its Municipal Partners, Town of Swan River, RM of Swan River, Town of Minitonas, RM of Minitonas, Village of Benito, Village of Bowsman and RM of Mountain with its top priority “Water Quality” both “Surface and Groundwater Management” within our closed watershed to ensure our future needs and long-term sustainability. The district delivers incentive-based programming to address land and water issues, including stream bank stabilization, grassed waterway construction or repair, abandoned well sealing/capping, well head protection, well water testing, surface water testing, tree planting projects, riparian zone management programming, fisheries and wildlife enhancement. Education on activities that have a positive impact on the health of our watershed is an important role in all our programming. District works closely with the schools in the area and with our local Envirothon team. With the support from Manitoba Water Stewardship, SLWCD is currently involved with the development of our Integrated Watershed Management Plan for Swan Lake Watershed.
- PHONE 734-9550
- EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
Turtle Mountain Conservation District
The District was initially formed as the Turtle Mountain Resource Conservation District in 1973, and officially became the Turtle Mountain Conservation District (TMCD) in 1978.
The TMCD is located along the International Boundary in Southwestern Manitoba and covers 4,518km2 (451,800 ha). The District occupies all or parts of the Rural Municipalities of Arthur, Brenda, Cameron, Winchester, Morton, and Turtle Mountain. It also includes the Towns of Deloraine, Boissevain, Hartney, Killarney, and the Village of Waskada.
The main objectives of the District are soil and water conservation. Some of the major programs include abandoned well sealing, salinity seed assistance, grassed waterways, remote watering systems, small dam construction, wildlife habitat preservation, public education and an annual Water Festival. The TMCD completed a watershed management plan for the East Souris River Watershed in 2006. Together with the Pembina Valley and the Assiniboine Hills Conservation District’s completed the Pembina River Watershed Management Plan in 2009 and was approved by the Minister of Water Stewardship in 2011.
Turtle River Watershed Conservation District
TRWCD was established in 1975. The district covers approximately 2,330 km2 (233,043 ha) and is located in western Manitoba. The district occupies the RMs of Ochre River, Ste Rose, McCreary and parts of Dauphin, Lawrence, Alonsa and Rosedale. A large portion of the district includes Riding Mountain National Park since the Conservation District is on a true watershed boundary. It also includes the Towns of Ste Rose and McCreary. TRWCD’s mission is to provide sound and effective soil and water management to area residents. There is significant emphasis placed on maintenance of drainages throughout the district. Some programs include the use of buffer strips, erosion control structures, abandoned well capping, grassed runways construction, riparian fencing, and beaver management. TRWCD has teaming up with Intermountain Conservation District to complete the IWMP process for the Dauphin Lake basin. Educational Trail/Site: TRWCD has a boardwalk/viewing tower at the Crawford Creek Alluvial Fan. This is an educational site that shows how an alluvial fan works and benefits an ecosystem. Directions will be available on a brochure that is available at the TRWCD office.
Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District
Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District (UARCD) was established in 1996 with a diverse landscape bordering part of the west side of the province, ranging from the Newdale Plain to the border of Riding Mountain National Park. The undulating topography can vary over 200 meters. The dominant feature of the landscape is the Assiniboine River meandering gently through the area. The Assiniboine River has carved an impressive valley. At times, the valley is over 75 meters deep with steep slopes. The valley is one of the most scenic aspects of the CD but is also a major resource management issue. The surface drainage flows generally to the southeast through a number of minor rivers and streams. Potholes are abundant in the prairie grassland region area of the UARCD.
UARCD covers over 2200 square miles with three distinct landscapes: uplands; plains; and river valleys. Included in the CD are the Rural Municipality’s of Archie, Birtle, Ellice, Hamiota, Miniota, Rossburn, Wallace, Woodworth, Municipality of Shoal Lake, Town’s of Birtle, Hamiota, Rossburn, Virden and Village’s of Elkhorn and St. Lazare.
We are committed to maintaining a landscape that is capable of supporting our environmental, economic and social well being for now and into the future. We strive to provide leadership in resource planning, implementation of programs and promotion of conservation practices.
Integrated Watershed Management Plan
Along with our partnering CD’s, Little Saskatchewan River, we have completed the Arrow-Oak River IWMP, as well as with Lake of the Prairie’s we have completed the Assiniboine-Birdtail IWMP, receiving Provincial Recognition in 2011.
The Assiniboine Riparian Forest began in 2008 as a multi-year project, 6 km. south of Miniota on 83 highway, along the Assiniboine River. To date approximately 900 trees have been planted. There is a walking trail and presentation/picnic area. The site is geared to education, with descriptive signage on the varieties of trees. We look forward to holding outdoor environmental presentations for schools within the district on healthy riparian areas, water quality, and the importance of natural areas.
West Interlake Watershed Conservation District
West Interlake Watershed Conservation District (WIWCD) was established in 2008. The District covers approximately 4,560 km2 (1,761 miles2) and is home to more than 6,500 residents. The District is located along the eastern shores of Lake Manitoba, adjacent to the East Interlake Conservation District. Participating RMs include Armstrong, Coldwell, Eriksdale, Siglunes, St. Laurent, and Woodlands.
The WIWCD is committed to developing and delivering programs that address priority land and water management issues, such as groundwater quality, surface water quality, surface water management, aquatic ecosystems, riparian area management, wildlife management and public education. The WIWCD will be initiating an Integrated Watershed Management Plan in 2012.
West Souris River Conservation District
WSRCD was formed in 1995 as Manitoba’s seventh conservation district through a partnership with the Province and four municipalities. Today that partnership has grown to include seven municipalities (Pipestone, Albert, Sifton, Edward, Cameron, Wallace and Arthur) and encompasses 4352.5 square kilometers in the southwestern corner of Manitoba. WSRCD is governed by an eight member board and programs are delivered by three full-time staff and a seasonal work crew. WSRCD is a registered charity.
Communities in WSRCD face numerous challenges in sustaining long-term productive use of their natural resource base. As the WSRCD Board, we envision a landscape where the land, water and related natural resources exist in a healthy, sustainable state and are capable of supporting a healthy and economically viable community over the long term. Our role is to help our local agricultural community to achieve this end by fostering personal and community initiatives, by using district staff and financial resources strategically and by developing partnerships with others who share our desire to support local initiatives and at the same time maintaining and enhancing ecosystem health. To meet our goals WSRCD has developed and delivered up to 30 resource management programs for residents in order to address local issues related to water quality and quantity, soil protection and improvement, wildlife habitat enhancement, protection and preservation of threatened ecosystems and environmental education for all ages.
Some of our accomplishments include planting 20 miles of shelterbelts in a single year, assisting farmers to plant thousands of acres of forage to protect and improve soil, monitoring and protecting water quality by annual testing of surface and groundwater and by the sealing of more than 100 old water wells throughout the district. Wildlife programs have included habitat enhancement projects in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, as well as, stream inventories through Manitoba Conservation to assess fish habitat. It was through one such inventory that a species of fish not known to inhabit our streams was found to, in fact, be present.
Environmental educational and youth initiatives are key to the success of our programs. WSRCD has developed numerous educational programs and currently has ten or more programs to offer our schools. We are seen as educational leaders within our communities and were honored as Educator of the Year by the Forte la Bosse Teachers’ Society in 1996 and in 2007.
WSRCD is currently planning for the future management of our watershed having initiated an Integrated Watershed Management Planning process in partnership with Manitoba Water Stewardship and our municipalities.
WSRCD developed the Canupawakpa Nature Trail along the Pipestone Creek in 1999. This one kilometer trail has become a popular stop for tourists and is one of the district’s best educational features. WSRCD is also involved in the development of two new trails near Melita.
Whitemud Watershed Conservation District
The Whitemud District was created in 1972, and is Manitoba’s first conservation district. The watershed includes all or part of the municipalities of Rosedale, Langford, Lansdowne, Odanah, Minto, North Cypress, Westbourne, Lakeview, Glenella, Portage la Prairie, North Norfolk, Alonsa, McCreary and Clanwilliam. Also included are the communities of Austin, Carberry, Gladstone, Glenella, MacGregor, Neepawa, Plumas, Rosedale, and others. The area of the watershed is approximately 2700 square miles. The watershed includes a little of almost every kind of land and environment that can be found in southern Manitoba west of the Whiteshell. The major creeks feeding the Whitemud River include Rat Creek, the Westbourne Drain, Squirrel Creek, Pine Creek, Boggy Creek, Stony Creek, Grass River and many other smaller creeks. The District is responsible for the maintenance of over 1100 miles of man-made waterways and the associated crossings. The District also delivers soil and water conservation projects such as forage seed assistance, shelterbelt planting, grassed runways, water retention, shale traps, wildlands habitat preservation, conservation corridors, streambank stabilization and riparian management. The District’s Water Management Strategy was updated in 2006 and forms part of the Five –Year Plan ending 2012/2013. An Integrated Watershed Management Plan has been initiated and is expected to be completed in 2012. Rosedale Farm Soil and Water Conservation Project & Recreational Trail: The Rosedale Demonstration Farm is regularly used for educational purposes and now features an all-season recreational trail. The farm is located 8 km West of Eden. Watch for guided trail hikes and events in the local media, and don’t forget to sign the guest book!