Meet dedicated ALUS Red Deer County participants Kevin and Roxanne Ziola
Located near snowy Sylvan Lake, Alberta, ALUS Red Deer County participants Kevin and Roxanne Ziola run Iron Kreek Ranch, a 1,600-acre (10 quarter-section) cow/calf and lamb operation that incorporates 21 different ALUS projects.
“We enjoy nature, and we believe it’s important to be able to work with nature while at the same time making a living in agriculture,” says Kevin. “ALUS makes it easier for us to incorporate conservation projects in our farm.”
ALUS participants since 2014, the Ziolas’ commitment to the program continues to increase each year. Kevin joined the ALUS Red Deer County PAC (Partnership Advisory Committee) in 2016, and started serving as a Farmer Liaison for the ALUS Red Deer County program in 2019.
They have so far enrolled 28 acres of their land into the program for 21 ALUS projects, including year-round alternative livestock waterers and about four kilometres of riparian fencing.
Their first major ALUS project was to prevent their cattle from getting into the Tindastoll Creek, which runs through most of their land. ALUS helped them fence off the creek to protect the banks, improve riparian habitat and preserve water quality for communities downstream.
“We ran a hot wire along both sides of the creek. It keeps the cattle out but still lets the wildlife in. It works really well,” says Kevin.
They enhanced the riparian zone on both sides of the creek by planting trees and shrubs and establishing wildlife habitat structures, such as Mallard hen nesting tunnels (see photo above).
Barred from accessing the creek, the livestock need an alternative source of drinking water. ALUS helped the Ziolas install an off-site watering system: Every spring, the creek fills a dugout pond for a year-round supply of fresh water at three drinking stations located in the pastures (see photo).
All the Ziolas’ ALUS projects are helping the environment by improving riparian areas and buffer zones, providing habitat for waterfowl, creating wildlife corridors, producing cleaner water, greater biodiversity and other ecosystem services for the wider community.
The land has been in the Ziola family since 1947, when Kevin’s grandparents arrived from Saskatchewan. Kevin and Roxanne’s children now represent the fourth generation on the family farm. The eldest, Josi, already helps her parents manage some of the ALUS projects on their land, as part of a family that actively pursues success on both agricultural and environmental fronts.
Not surprisingly, the Ziolas were nominated for an Alberta Beef Environmental Stewardship Award in 2017.
Established in 2013, the ALUS Red Deer County Program is the third-oldest ALUS program in Alberta. Program coordinator Ken Lewis and his team have already enrolled more than 4,500 acres into the program. For more information, please visit: https://alus.ca/alus_community/alus-red-deer-county/