ALUS Canada makes special announcement at restored wetland in Saskatchewan
The sky was big and blue over Terry Mearns’ beautifully restored wetland near Silton, northwest of Regina, where more than two dozen people gathered for an ALUS Canada announcement on June 29, 2016. It was the perfect occasion to celebrate the program’s successes so far, and to set the stage for ALUS’ bright future in Saskatchewan.
“In the last year alone, ALUS Canada has invested more than $124,000 in Saskatchewan’s two ALUS communities,” said ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy, “and together, these two ALUS communities have already enrolled nearly 1,900 acres into the ALUS program.”
And now, said Gilvesy, the organization has received a new $5M grant from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, which will help support the expansion of the ALUS program in the province.
This major grant will be bolstered by ALUS Canada’s new funding stream, called the New Acre Project, which will make it possible for citizens, corporations and philanthropists to invest in environmental stewardship, one acre at a time, and further support ALUS projects across the nation.
Following this announcement, ALUS WUQWATR participant Terry Mearns gave a guided tour of his 16-acre wetland, which was restored and enhanced through ALUS this year. The spring-fed wetland and its surrounding buffer zone, enhanced by a dam along the western bank, are now home to many birds, insects and even a population of Northern leopard frogs, a species which Mearns says he has not spotted locally since he was a kid.
“Terry is one of many ALUS farmers and ranchers who have put their skills towards restoring healthy, functioning wetlands on their properties,” said Gilvesy. “These wetlands produce ecosystem services like biodiversity, drought mitigation, cleaner air and cleaner water for all.”
Guests, including local journalists, ALUS WUQWATR’s PAC Chair and participant Larry Grant, several PAC members, WUQWATR’s Board Chair Fred Clipsham and WUQWATR’s General Manager Colleen Fennig, were treated to a demonstration of a henhouse installation during the announcement event.
“A henhouse is a safe nesting habitat for ducks,” said Paige Englot, ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub Manager and ALUS WUQWATR’s Program Coordinator. “This one is made of a cylindrical structure, lined with flax straw, that we mounted high on a post set into the bottom of the wetland, well out of reach from potential predators.”
ALUS Canada currently supports 20 ALUS communities in six provinces, with more coming on board every year. Each ALUS community receives ALUS Canada funding to run the local program and to distribute annual payments to local farmers and ranchers who maintain ALUS projects on their land.
In Saskatchewan, ALUS is currently represented by two community-based programs: ALUS WUQWATR and the ALUS Saskatchewan Assiniboine Project (ASAP).
The ALUS WUQWATR program is a partnership between ALUS Canada and the Regina-based organization, Wascana and Upper Qu’Appelle Watersheds Association Taking Responsibility (WUQWATR); the ALUS Saskatchewan Assiniboine Project (ASAP) program is a partnership between ALUS Canada and two organizations, the Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association (SaskFSA) and the Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association (AWSA), based in Yorkton.
“ALUS Canada is thrilled to be working with these strong community partners in Saskatchewan,” said Gilvesy. Indeed, the ALUS announcement was held in conjunction with a special two-day program organized by WUQWATR, while Gilvesy met with ASAP Project Manager Jesse Nielsen and SaskFSA’s Executive Director Candace Mitschke-Hiller and other leaders of the ASAP program on June 28, to strategize for even greater success in the future.
“All these ALUS projects have a compounding effect, one that does a great deal to protect our watersheds,” said Gilvesy. “That’s why I say that in Saskatchewan, and across this nation, ALUS farmers are part of the solution for improving water quality for Canadians.”
ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, is a national program dedicated to supporting farmers and ranchers who produce cleaner air, cleaner water, more biodiversity and other ecosystem services in their communities. As a recent Clean50 and Alberta Emerald award winner – and ranked among the exclusive Clean16 – ALUS Canada is a recognized leader in sustainability that offers a unique method for improving the environment, allowing farmers and ranchers to steward their land in a way that benefits all Canadians, one acre at a time.
ALUS is grateful to Delee Grant for the beautiful photography: