Cold Hands, Warm Hearts - ALUS Canada
ALUS Canada’s October 2018 Field Conference proves that Prairie spirits cannot be dampened by the weather.
On October 10 and 11, early snow across Manitoba and Saskatchewan made for unexpectedly wintry conditions as ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub gathered for their 2018 field conference.
The ALUS Prairie Hub Field Conference is an annual event bringing together some of ALUS Canada’s national staff, and folks from different ALUS communities in the Prairies, to share their knowledge and experiences, creating a unique learning opportunity for all.
This year, the ALUS Little Saskatchewan River (ALUS LSR) program hosted the conference in Onanole, near Clear Lake, located within Manitoba’s Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District.
Program Coordinators and PAC members from far and wide came together to learn how to optimize the production of ecosystem services. They shared great ideas for project implementation, program administration hacks, and strategies for improving the delivery of the program across the Prairies.
“That cross-pollination of ALUS Coordinators’ thoughts and experiences is such an important part of the field conference,” reflected Paige Englot, ALUS Canada’s Prairie Hub Manager. “We discussed successes and challenges around ALUS projects, and explored how ALUS can be part of the solution for improving environmental problems in local communities.”
During the October 10 workshops, ALUS Canada’s CEO Bryan Gilvesy presented an exciting plan for the future of the ALUS program in the Prairie provinces, with national funding from diverse sources, including The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, other philanthropic donors and grant programs and ALUS Canada’s corporate sponsorship program, the New Acre™ Project, in addition to critical local support. “He explained where we’re at, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there,” said Englot.
On October 11, the conference group visited ALUS projects in the northern portion of ALUS Little Saskatchewan River’s territory. The first stop was at Gord Hammell’s property, southwest of Erickson, Manitoba. Hammell is a proud ALUS LSR participant and an active PAC member whose spiffy new ALUS Demonstration Farm sign accurately boasts of all the “Ecosystem Services Produced Here.”
He showed the Prairie Hub a wetland restoration and riparian area enhancement project, initially established as a partnership between ALUS LSR and the Manitoba Heritage Habitat Corporation (MHHC), whose ongoing management and maintenance are supported by ALUS.
At the next stop, attendees explored ALUS participant Ryan Andreychuk’s ALUS project near Harrison, Manitoba. With the help of ALUS LSR, he converted a parcel of marginal farmland from traditional cropping to a permanent patch of mixed perennial species. These deep-rooted plants are better at sequestering carbon, providing wildlife habitat and filtering water as it moves across the landscape toward nearby Gull Lake.
In this way, ALUS projects produce important ecosystem services such as cleaner water, cleaner air and more biodiversity.
Although the group needed a coffee break to warm up during this unseasonably wintry tour, nothing stopped them from getting the most out of this successful event. This 2018 Field Conference proved that Prairie spirits cannot be dampened by a little snow and cold weather… even if it does come in mid-October!