New service would protect rural land

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A land-use services co-ordinator could be hired by Big Lakes County to deal with agricultural land issues.

At its regular meeting Sept. 12, council directed administration to research costs and prepare to apply for an Alberta Environment grant to fund an Alternative Land-Use Services co-ordinator in the county.

“It would be proactive for the county to do this,” says agricultural fieldman Sheila Kaus.

The issue stems from a report of high fecal coliform counts in the West Prairie River in June, says a report from Vic Abel, director of public works.

“To address the issue proactively and protect our livestock industry, the ALUS Canada program could be investigated as a possible fit for the county,” Abel says.

“ALUS is a producer-driven initiative that aims to compensate producers for the ecological goods and services they provide,” he quotes a statement from the ALUS website.

ALUS helps farmers and ranchers restore wetlands, reforest, plant windbreaks, install riparian buffers, manage suitable drainage systems, create pollinator habitat and establish other ecologically beneficial projects on their properties.

ALUS also provides per-acre annual payments to ALUS participants to recognize their dedication to managing and maintaining all the ALUS projects on their land.

Details and benefits were presented by Northern Sunrise County agricultural fieldman Sebastien Dutrisac.

“ALUS and partners often fund 50 per cent or more of project costs,” Dutrisac says.

“Instead of municipal funding, you get investors to contribute.

“We are asking for private industry to pay first.”

Proposed projects are reviewed and approved by an advisory committee, he says.

Local producers participating in a project sign a 10-year voluntary project maintenance agreement.


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