ALUS helps protect water quality and expand wildlife corridors on Circle H Farms
When Will Brown takes over Circle H Farms from his grandfather, John Hayden, he will represent the sixth generation of his family to farm in Cherry Valley, PEI. With that future in mind, stewarding this land is of paramount importance.
“Wildlife habitat and water quality should be two key priorities, not just for Circle H, but for the agricultural industry as well as for society at large,” says Brown. “As farmers, we are better positioned than any other occupation to positively influence the environment.”
Currently growing cereals and oilseeds on 1,400 acres, Circle H Farms have been ALUS participants since 2009. Some of their ALUS projects are soil-conservation structures, such as farmable berms and grassed waterways, and ALUS has also enabled them to retire their steeply sloped fields from cultivation. The goal of all these ALUS projects is to reduce soil erosion and help protect water quality in PEI.
These ALUS projects now serve as a buffer zone between the farm’s cropped fields and its wetlands, including impressive Orwell Bay which fronts more than 600 feet of their land and flows into the Northumberland Strait between the Island and the mainland.
For example, Circle H Farms retired 3.5 acres from cultivation, setting aside the bottom section of a field that slopes down to the Bay. This added almost 400 feet (120 m) to an existing 50-foot (15 m) regulated buffer zone already protecting the tidal marsh along the shoreline. It also connects to a second existing buffer zone, one that protects a small freshwater spring that runs along the edge of the ALUS project.
With the entire area naturally regenerating back to forest, the ALUS project offers outstanding wildlife habitat while also helping to protect water quality.
“As a hunter, I know how important it is to conserve wild areas, especially those areas near streams and wetlands,” says Hayden.
“I really like ALUS because it helps expand wildlife corridors, and that is important in a landscape as developed as ours. Whenever I visit my ALUS projects, I am in awe of how extensively they are used by wildlife.”
In recognition of their “outstanding contributions to the protection and enhancement of the natural environment,” the Piscquid River Enhancement Committee presented Circle H Farm with an environmental stewardship award in 2012.