ALUS WUQWATR participants Larry and DeLee Grant produce wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services in Saskatchewan.
It’s no secret that one of the strongest assets of the ALUS program is its flexibility—and this is certainly the case in ALUS WUQWATR, Saskatchewan.
ALUS is known across Canada as a community-developed program that addresses local environmental priorities, respects agricultural knowhow and relies on the input and involvement of local community members.
Husband-and-wife team Larry and DeLee Grant, whose property is located near White City, Saskatchewan, are a perfect example of community members who actively engage with the ALUS program at many levels. Larry joined Saskatchewan’s first-ever Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC) in 2011. Since then, he has taken on the role of Chair of the ALUS WUQWATR PAC, while he and DeLee have also signed up as participants.
The Grants’ main ALUS project is a five-acre reforestation site, featuring diverse tree species commonly found in Saskatchewan, such as prickly rose, spruce, poplar, pin cherry and lilac. The project was initiated by the Grants, with the support of neighbours who kindly pitched in for a long spring day of tree-planting in the late spring of 2013.
The ALUS WUQWATR community, which is a partnership between ALUS Canada and the source-water protection agency known as the Wascana and Upper Qu’Appelle Watersheds Association Taking Responsibility (WUQWATR), helped advise and guide the project, shared the cost of planting the tree seedlings, and now provides an annual payment for Larry and DeLee’s continued management and maintenance of their ALUS project.
The Grants’ ALUS project, which was expanded in 2014, is now an excellent source of food, shelter and habitat for a wide range of wildlife and pollinators, which benefits the local environment and the community at large. “We see lots of deer, even moose tracks,” says Larry. “We’ve also noticed an increase in the butterfly and bird population—we see so many nests once the leaves have fallen.”
Habitat is just one of the ecosystem services produced by this ALUS project: The trees also sequester carbon, improve the health of the soil and retain water on the landscape, which is an important boon for the community at large.
This ALUS project has also provided a wealth of personal enjoyment for the Grants. It provides scenic inspiration for DeLee, a talented Saskatchewan painter and photographer. (To see more of her work, visit this website.)
“We really appreciate our shelterbelt. It’s about a mile and half long, and we walk around it every day. We look forward to enjoying it for many years to come, knowing that it serves a purpose for the environment, and for the community as well,” says Larry.
In this way, the Grants’ ALUS project not only helps to keep the participants themselves flexible and strong, it also showcases the flexibility and strength of the community-based ALUS program that they continue to support, and to help lead.