ALUS Presents a new series showcasing outstanding farmers and ranchers.
Nettie Hughes and her children, Henry, Nettie Jr., Dalvin and Parker, who run a mixed beef and grain operation located near Buck Creek, Alberta, are among the original participants in the ALUS Brazeau program, having signed up as soon as the program started in 2016.
Henry Hughes has been a member of the ALUS Brazeau Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC) for many years and now serves as its Vice-Chairperson.
The Hughes Farm consists of four sections of land, or 2,500 acres (1,900 acres owned and 600 leased). There are streams and creeks throughout the property, all flowing into Buck Lake Creek.
It is located in the Modeste subwatershed of the North Saskatchewan River basin, which feeds drinking water to the City of Edmonton.
The Hughes manage several ALUS projects on their farm, consisting mainly of cattle-exclusion fencing along 6.5 km of creeks. This fencing has created 78 acres of riparian buffer zones that are enrolled into the ALUS Brazeau program, and they are looking at enrolling more land into ALUS in the future.
“Our ALUS projects are already having a big effect,” says Henry, who reports seeing big fish in the stream, right down the hill from the house, as well as increased beaver populations in and around Buck Lake Creek.
“Fencing off the pasture from the creek has prevented the bank from sloughing off like it used to,” he says.
“We have also noticed an abundance of willow and poplar saplings regenerating in the buffer zone area.”
The Hughes’ ALUS projects are clearly helping the environment: they are restoring and maintaining wildlife habitat, protecting wetlands to help mitigate flooding, and reducing erosion in the riparian area to improve water quality for communities downstream, including Edmonton.
As farmers and ranchers, the Hughes family also appreciates the other benefits of their ALUS projects.
“The ALUS fencing project has also given us some smaller pastures that we use for controlled grazing,” says Henry. “It helps us control cattle movement, which is helpful, and we like not having to wade into the creek to get them back!”
ALUS is proud to count the Hughes family among its Trail Blazers in Alberta.