ALUS welcomes three new municipalities to its network of grassroots environmental stewards
Mile Island on the Athabasca River in Athabasca County.
BARRHEAD COUNTY, AB, February 16, 2022 — Located in North-central Alberta, ALUS Barrhead-Westlock-Athabasca (BWA) encompasses three municipalities: the County of Barrhead, Westlock County and Athabasca County. This triumvirate has created their local ALUS program to deliver a new mechanism to support local agricultural producers in creating natural infrastructure for cleaner air and water, greater drought and flood resilience and much more.
“Introducing the ALUS program to the Counties of Barrhead, Westlock and Athabasca is an exciting step forward,” says Debbie Oyarzun, CAO, County of Barrhead.
Each of the partnering municipalities is distinct, but they share common threads that have brought them together to deliver the ALUS program. There is a strong agricultural presence throughout each of them. As well, the Athabasca River runs through the counties and is fed by several tributaries as it winds through them, including the Pembina River. These are important waterbodies that support an array of human and non-human life.
“Through strong regional collaboration we have been delivering environmental programming to our agricultural producers, which has created a solid base for us to build on as we transition to ALUS,” says Kay Spiess, CAO, Westlock County.
Prior to the launch of ALUS BWA in November 2021, the counties had been operating a joint conservation program, Highway 2 Conservation (H2C). This foundation of cooperation on environmental concerns made the ALUS model a good fit to extend the work being done.
“We know our producers appreciate the importance of environmental stewardship and are eager to continue with programming that makes sense for their operations. We look forward to seeing the progress they will make under the ALUS program,” says Dawn Phillips, CAO, Athabasca County.
ALUS BWA will help address the demand of local producers for easy to access programs that allow them to get more done. Area producers are keen to implement projects that help address environmental challenges and improve the resilience of the landscape. ALUS BWA will support producers to undertake projects, such as reclaiming riparian buffer areas with the aid of fencing and vegetation to aid water quality. The program will also plant trees, shrubs and native flowers, which boost wildlife and pollinator habitat and help secure topsoil.
“ALUS is thrilled to be partnering with each of the counties and the H2C program to bring an even larger capacity to empower farmers and ranchers to manage their land in ways that make sense to them, in ways that improve the environment, economies and communities,” says Christine Campbell, Senior Hub Manager, ALUS.
ALUS Barrhead-Westlock-Athabasca will be guided in its decision making by a Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is critical to the ALUS model, it ensures that local priorities are addressed by the ALUS projects. It does so by being comprised of fifty percent of area farmers and ranchers, who with other committee members (local elected officials, environmental experts, etc.) determine which projects are prioritized for the ALUS program.
ALUS (originally an acronym for Alternative Land Use Services) is a charitable organization that sustains agriculture and biodiversity for the benefit of communities and future generations. ALUS provides direct financial and technical support to a network of more than a thousand farmers and ranchers who deliver ecosystem services in more than 30 communities across Canada, such as cleaner air, cleaner water, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood mitigation, pollinator support and wildlife habitat. Learn more at ALUS.ca.