The OWC held their first Voices of the Oldman: Agriculture Matters session, this week in Taber. It is a unique agricultural area, due to the high amount of irrigation used for watering crops like corn and potatoes, which in turn, makes it one of the highest users of water in the Oldman basin.
People in the Taber area care deeply about stewardship and it showed at the event, where about 50 people showed up to share their perspectives on the future of water and agriculture. We started the event off with updates from panel experts representing their organizations who are invested in watershed stewardship. Chris Gallagher from the Taber Irrigation District, Ed Vandenberg from the Potato Growers of Alberta, Jamie Puchinger from Farming Smarter and our own Shannon Frank from the OWC gave updates on how their respective groups are undertaking stewardship initiatives. They set the tone and got people in the right mindset for the roundtable discussions where we really dug into the challenges and solutions facing agricultural watershed stewardship.
The roundtable discussions are a great way for everyone to come together, engage in great conversation and really breakdown the big picture into individual issues. Whenever you have folks from different areas of interest, from irrigation to range management to someone with a general interest in the watershed, you are bound to come up with interesting solutions to the challenges we face.
These "Voices of the Oldman" events are designed to engage the people of agriculture in Southern Alberta, gather perspectives as to where they see the future heading, and use that data to support the ag community through improvements made to our Watershed Legacy Program. We will also be sending a summary of our findings to the Government of Alberta, where we hope this information can be used to help influence decisions on agriculture and watershed stewardship.
The OWC also wants to provide opportunities for rural youth interns to gain experience within a watershed stewardship setting. We're looking for creative and innovative ideas as to what work needs to be done and how we can help, putting to action the WLP interns.
If you missed the Taber session, there are still two more chances to come out for some good discussion and voice your perspectives: This Friday February 10th at the Twin Butte Community Hall (from 1-4pm) and March 1st at the Stavely Community Hall (from 2-5pm) .
Anne Stevick is our first panelist for the Twin Butte event on Friday. She is the Natural Area Manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Waterton East area, as well as an OWC board member since 2008, and an invaluable member of our Watershed Legacy Program team. Deeply committed to stewardship of the land, Anne and her husband Quentin have ranched in the Pincher Creek area for 35 years. Their first ranch was swallowed by the creation of the Oldman River Reservoir, which gave Anne the motivation to get involved in watershed issues. She will give us some updates on the innovative work the NCC is working on in the grasslands
You would be hard pressed to find a rancher as active in local stewardship initiatives than Tony Bruder. A third generation rancher in the Twin Butte area, Tony had a big hand in the creation of the Drywood/Yarrow Conservation Partnership, which has done many great things in the area including the creation of the Carnivores & Communities program, designed to mitigate conflicts with the growing Grizzly Bear population. That project has now been carried forward by the Waterton Biosphere Reserve, where Tony is the Carnivore Working Group coordinator.
Lindsey Davidson has worked of the M.D. of Pincher Creek since 2013 - originally hired as the Assistant Ag Fieldwoman, her position has evolved in to the Environmental Services Technician, where she focuses on delivering environmental and agricultural extension programs to local landowners and producers. She grew up spending much of her time in the mountains and backcountry of southwest Alberta where she developed a fascination of the interconnectivity of nature. Like Anne, Lindsey sits on our WLP team, assisting the OWC as we support the agricultural community.
These are sure to be great events for anyone who has a perspective on the future of agriculture and watershed stewardship, so make sure to register at our link below and share with a friend:
See you there!