western region ( Prairie/ Boreal ) Yukon • Northwest Territories • Nunavut • Alberta • Saskatchewan • Manitoba
volume 29, number 1, 2008
Winter wheat helps world's hungry
Two groups of southern Alberta farmers are singing the praises of winter wheat thanks to a project that benefits the world’s poor – and the continent’s waterfowl, says Susanne Brummelhuis, a conservation programs and winter cereals specialist with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). Crops harvested next summer from two parcels of land in the Burdett and Medicine Hat areas will be donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. A federally incorporated, non-profit association established by a group of Canadian churches in 1983, the bank provides a practical way for Canadian farmers to share their harvest with the world’s hungry. Typically, one producer donates the land and others help plant and harvest the crop, with industry often donating agronomic services or product, including fertilizer. “Ducks Unlimited Canada got involved when they looked at seeding winter wheat because that crop offers some significant advantages to waterfowl production,” notes Brummelhuis. “In
fields where crops were seeded in the fall, research shows one northern pintail nest in every 72 acres of seeded crop. That drops to one nest per 1,132 acres when the crop is seeded in the spring, since that process disrupts nesting.” With DUC’s support, both parcels (and one in central Alberta) were seeded to winter wheat in 2005. Producers like the crop because it is harvested weeks before spring-seeded crops, outyields spring varieties and can be marketed directly to grain companies. Winter wheat, which germinates before winter freeze-up, also prevents soil erosion caused by wind, says farmer Charlie Redpath, who co-ordinates the Medicine Hat project. Launched several years ago, DUC’s Winter Cereals Initiative provides agronomic support to producers and links new growers to a network of experienced producers. “The link to the Foodgrains Bank initiative is a bonus, since we secure habitat for spring nesting and get to help these farmers feed the world’s hungry,” adds Brummelhuis.
Youth program puts focus on range management
Like many young people, Sarah Anderson of Sceptre, Sask., wants to choose an education and career path that will combine all of her loves: animals, agriculture and the outdoors. A youth program sponsored in part by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has helped her do just that. In 2006, DUC partnered with the Prairie Parkland chapter of the Northern Great Plains section of the Society for Range Management (SRM) and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA) to sponsor an essay contest encouraging Grade 12 students to write about any aspect of range management. Anderson’s essay about the role of soil and water contamination, soil erosion and access trail development in habitat fragmentation in the Great Sandhills won her a trip to an international range management
conference in Vancouver. She presented her essay at the conference’s youth forum, and in a group of 24 high school students from across the continent, Anderson brought home fifth place honours. Anderson is now in her second year at the University of Saskatchewan, studying environmental sciences with a minor in range resources. Anderson says that what she learned at the range management conference “definitely had an impact on me… I started off thinking animal science was one of the three majors I had, but when I came back from the SRM conference, it was clear that something more ‘environmentally directed’ would be more indicative to what I was hoping to accomplish.
“I think environment is going to be huge in the next decade – especially with natural resources and depletion. And I really wanted to stick with my roots. That’s why I chose the grasslands. I need to stick with native range resources as my emphasis in what part of the environment I want to work with – I think it has to be.” Now that Anderson has found the career path she wants to follow, she says her choice is truly grounded in her country roots. DUC is proud to have played a part in helping students like Anderson explore careers in grassland conservation. The Society for Range Management promotes the professional development and continuing education of members and the public and the stewardship of rangeland resources. For more information, visit the SRM website: www.rangelands.org.
Sarah Anderson’s essay about habitat fragmentation in the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan won her a trip to an international range management conference in 2006. She’s now combining her love of animals, agriculture and the outdoors in her university studies.
western region (prairie/boreal)
Former Ducks Unlimited Canada employee receives community accolades
George Freeman, longtime Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) employee and lifelong Strathmore resident, was recently honoured as 2007 Strathmore Citizen of the Year. An army veteran and dedicated volunteer, Freeman also spent 36 years serving DUC in and around the community of Strathmore. The father of DUC’s original Greenwing Program, Freeman has introduced many young people to the great outdoors and taught them the value of wetlands. A passionate conservationist, he is a pioneer of waterfowl research in Alberta and under his
leadership, was directly responsible for over 70 wetland projects. Over the years, his contributions to DUC have been numerous and invaluable. Although he retired in 1984, Freeman still contributes many volunteer hours to the local DUC committee as well as continuing to help wetland conservation programs in many different ways.
Monsanto helps drive wetland education through Watershed Ecovan
A grant from the Monsanto Fund will ensure that a popular travelling wetland education program delivered by educators from the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre to communities in Manitoba, Northwest Ontario, eastern Saskatchewan and Alberta will continue for the next two years. “Our travelling education program, the Watershed Ecovan, builds broadbased environmental awareness through community education and participation. By visiting communities that may not have access to wetland education at the Interpretive Centre, we’re getting students, teachers and community groups excited about wetlands and the natural world,” says Robert Laidler, Interpretive Centre general manager. “This funding from the Monsanto Fund will ensure that we can deliver wetland programs to new communities we’ve never visited before.” For 11 years, the Interpretive Centre’s outreach programs have helped schools, day cares, youth groups and senior centres learn about the role of wetlands in keeping watersheds clean, creating environmental awareness among communities at large. Monsanto’s support of $185,000 over two years will completely fund visits to schools
that have not previously had access to the Interpretive Centre’s wetland education programs. “When we look for programs to support, exposing kids to science and teaching them an appreciation for the environment are certainly areas of focus for our corporate giving program. With the assistance of the Monsanto Fund, we are pleased to support the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre in their efforts to promote education and appreciation for our watersheds,” says Trish Jordan, public affairs lead with Monsanto Canada. “Supporting and encouraging community projects such as the Watershed Ecovan that reach so many students is just one way we can give back to the communities where our employees and customers live and work.” The Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, a joint venture of Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Province of Manitoba, fosters public awareness and knowledge of the inherent
values of wetlands and their associated ecosystems and encourages support for their conservation through innovative education and outreach programs. Teachers and community groups interested in learning more should contact 1-888-50-MARSH, ext. 299. Oak Hammock Marsh nature interpreters (l-r) Andrea Klassen, Ashley McMurray, Dusty Molinski and Abby Symmes will be visiting a community near you this winter, thanks in part to funding for the Interpretive Centre's Watershed Ecovan program received from The Monsanto Fund.
Ecological Goods and Services pilot project to help southeastern Saskatchewan producers
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s announcement this past fall of more than a half million dollars in funding for a partner-driven Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) pilot project led by Saskatchewan’s Lower Souris Watershed Committee (LSWC) is great news for groups that have been urging the federal government to help producers achieve environmental outcomes on their lands without compromising their economic well-being. “The main objective of our pilot project will be to create an inventory of agricultural land uses to determine the tools that can help us achieve environmental outcomes such as clean water, soil renewal and the protection of wildlife habitat,” says John Van Eaton, chair of the LSWC and a southeastern Saskatchewan producer. “This pilot builds on earlier projects to test the concept of agri-environmental group planning that was done in the Lower Souris watershed and clearly highlights the collaborative approach of producers, conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited Canada, key stakeholders and governments necessary for EG&S policy to continue to build momentum on Canada’s agricultural landscapes.” The Lower Souris River watershed is located in the southeastern corner of Saskatchewan, bounded to the east by Manitoba and to the south by North Dakota. Ecologically, the watershed is located in an area known as Aspen Parkland. Undisturbed, the Aspen Parkland ecoregion is a mix of aspen groves and fescue grasslands and represents the zone of transition between open grasslands and continuous forest. Agricultural use has altered the landscape, with 80 per cent of the area being cropland.
While focusing on environmental objectives, the $530,000 Saskatchewan pilot project will be based on recognized scientific knowledge. The area that comprises the Lower Souris watershed is of significance to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) as it represents some of the most critical waterfowl habitat in Saskatchewan. Because of its grazing and agriculture-focused programs, DUC has a longstanding relationship with the LSWC and has been actively involved in the LSWC EG&S pilot project since Day 1. “We are using remote sensing and GIS systems to help the LSWC set specific landscape goals for the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat in the watershed,” says Lyle Boychuk, DUC’s manager of GIS and inventory programs, Western Region. “The research interests within the broader pilot will utilize this biophysical information towards two outcomes: to determine the net cost to producers to meet these landscape goals and to evaluate the net environmental benefit of each landscape goal.” The LSWC pilot project comprises 28 partners including the local sub-watershed members, numerous area agricultural producers, the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and DUC. The pilot project is expected to further bind and strengthen the ties between economics and environment on Saskatchewan farms, a goal Minister Ritz declares as acceptable to producers. “Our farmers know that farm stewardship and economic growth go hand in hand, and that is why they understand the importance of protecting and enhancing Saskatchewan’s natural landscape,” the Minister stated in the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada news release about the funding.
western region (prairie/boreal)
Arkansas legacy crosses border
From Arkansas to Saskatchewan, the Legacy Greenwing program (LG) is inspiring today’s youth to preserve habitat and creating a legacy that reaches across borders. Proof of this was obvious this past October in rural Saskatchewan when two Ducks Unlimited volunteers, George Dunklin Jr. and Don McSwain, and 229 Legacy Greenwing (LG) members from Arkansas were recognized for their outstanding efforts and contributions to conservation through the Legacy Greenwing membership program. On Oct. 3 and 4, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) dedicated two habitat projects in the prairie breeding grounds in their names. One project is located near Meecham and the other is near Young. The LG program allows youth to become members of Duck Unlimited until age 21 and provides an opportunity to learn about the outdoors and habitat conservation. For their part, Dunklin and McSwain have been fostering youth outdoor education programs in Arkansas for years. Dunklin, who also serves on DU’s board of directors, has been hosting DU’s Greenwing Camp in Arkansas since 1993. McSwain was also involved with initiating the camp and continues to be a strong advocate for youth outdoor education. According to DUC’s manager of state grants, Dave Kostersky, the relationship with individuals like Dunklin and McSwain are critical for the future success of youth programs. “We’re connected,” says Kostersky. “Successful youth conservation programs in Arkansas depend upon strong leadership and support from local DU volunteers like Dunklin and McSwain. These youth memberships may originate in Arkansas, but they also benefit Canadian breeding grounds,” he explains. Money raised from LG memberships goes toward sponsoring habitat projects in Canada. These are the third and fourth projects in Saskatchewan to be dedicated to the Legacy Greenwings of Arkansas and represent a total of 663 youth members from the state. To date, over $132,000 has been raised through Legacy Greenwing memberships in Arkansas for habitat conservation in Saskatchewan.
Wetland conservation award presented to outdoor educator
This November, Saskatchewanians were able to celebrate another win of the “green” kind on the heels of the Roughrider Grey Cup victory, when His Honour the Honourable Dr. Gordon L. Barnhart, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, presented the province’s Lieutenant Governor’s Greenwing Conservation Award to Melanie Elliott for her dedication to conservation and outdoor education over more than 20 years. Sponsored by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), the Lieutenant Governor’s Greenwing Conservation Award recognizes individuals or groups who have demonstrated leadership in a project or activity that has contributed significantly to the public awareness of the values of wetland ecosystems and their benefits to waterfowl, wildlife and people. Elliott was nominated along with three other dedicated conservationalists from throughout the province, Murray Bercovich, Ross Madsen and Doreen (Dodi) McGunigal for this year's award. “The high calibre of this year’s nominees bodes well for wetlands in Saskatchewan,” said Lieutenant Governor Barnhart. “These habitats are extremely valuable for both wildlife and people, and it is encouraging that committed individuals like Ms. Elliott are working to conserve them.” A lifelong environmental educator, Elliott has dedicated her career to learning about nature and teaching others about the values of wetlands and other wildlife habitats. In 1993, she developed the Ecology Camp for Kids Program for the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Continuing and Distance Education – a program which she continues to deliver today. Elliott is an active volunteer with several conservation agencies and her volunteer leadership was key in the preservation of Saskatoon’s Natural Grasslands. “I’m humbled and honoured to be selected for this award,” says Elliott. “It has been my great privilege – and a ton of fun – to see students visit a wetland for the first time and connect with the outdoors in a way that affects them for the rest of their lives.” She adds, “It gives me great hope for the future of our natural habitats in Saskatchewan.” “We all need to take responsibility for the care and protection of Saskatchewan's and Canada’s wetlands,” says DUC chairman Peter Carton. “Organizations, together with the efforts of dedicated individuals, especially Ms. Elliott’s, can be very effective. That’s why this award was established: to recognize the contributions of local stewards and conservationists across Canada.”
(l-r) DUC chairman Peter Carton, Melanie Elliott, His Honour the Honourable Dr. Gordon L. Barnhart, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Her Honour Mrs. Naomi Barnhart.
Partnership brings wetland experience to School…Lake
Albrta students get their hands really wet and dirty at School Lake. And that’s the way Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Talisman Energy like it. The two organizations are partners in School Lake, which is part of DUC’s Project Webfoot education program. The program recently garnered Talisman Energy a nomination for the 2007 Steward of Excellence Award. Sponsored by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, this annual award recognizes and creates awareness about industry efforts that demonstrate an “above and beyond” commitment to continuous improvement in environment, health, safety and social performance. The program includes in-classroom presentations by DUC and Inside Education, a well recognized natural resource and environmental education organization based in Alberta. Then it’s off to a guided tour at School Lake, which is an interpretive site developed by DUC, Talisman Energy and the Alberta government. Since it opened in 2004 near Talisman Energy’s Edson gas plant, School Lake has welcomed nearly 1,500 Grade 5 students. There is plenty to do at School Lake, from identifying wetland animals and Students enjoy a hands-on education experience at plants to participating in “Eco Games” – School Lake, which is an interpretive site developed by physical activities related to wetland biolDUC, Talisman Energy and the Alberta government. ogy and ecology. An added bonus to School Lake is that it links real-life examples and functions of ecosystems and biology to Alberta’s “Wetland Ecosystem” science curricula, giving students the chance to experience hands-on demonstrations of theories and concepts learned in class. Students also receive a hot lunch provided by Talisman Energy. “The best way to learn is through hands-on learning,” says Jerry Brunen, Alberta education specialist for DUC. This partnership between DUC and Talisman Energy has also expanded to include Hinton and similar programs in Grande Prairie and Warburg, Alta.
western region ( Prairie/ Boreal )
The Flyway newsletter is published by Ducks Unlimited Canada Oak Hammock Marsh Conservation Centre P.O. Box 1160, Stonewall, Manitoba R0C 2Z0 tel (204)467-3000 fax (204)467-9028 toll-free 1(800)665-DUCK Please direct your inquiries to the following: Eastern Region Atlantic: Kelly MacDonald Quebec: Bernard Filion Ontario: Lynette Mader Marci Dube Western Region
Flyway production staff Director of Communications and Marketing: Madeleine Arbez Editor: Duncan Morrison Assistant: June Finnson Art Director: Tye Gregg Graphic Designers: Lindsay Pikta-Marie, Aquila Samson, Jeope Wolfe
© Ducks Unlimited Canada, 2008 Printed in Canada on 100% recycled paper including 100% post-consumer fibres
Area Contacts Marketing/Communications Anh Hoang, Western Boreal Sarah Hodges-Kolisnyk, Manitoba Lori Gasper, Saskatchewan Lee Moats, Saskatchewan Kristina Dembinski, Alberta
(780) 489-8110 (204) 467-3252 (306) 665-7356 (306) 569-0424 (780) 489-2002
Manager of Operations, Manitoba Bob Grant, Brandon (204) 729-3500 Manager of Operations, Saskatchewan Brent Kennedy, Regina (306) 569-0424
Since it opened in 2004, School Lake has welcomed nearly 1,500 Grade 5 students.
Manager of Operations, Alberta Dave Kay, Edmonton
Education Jerry Brunen, Calgary Barb Hanbidge, Saskatoon Bob Laidler, Oak Hammock
(403) 201-5577 (306) 665-7356 (204) 467-3000
Western Boreal Program Eric Butterworth
publication agreement #40064849