Conservation trust funds pasture project

Pasture health improvements are in store for the Kirkella Community Pasture near Virden, Man., using recently announced conservation trust funding.

The $100,000 allocated through the new provincial conservation trust will be used to enhance grassland habitat in various ways.

“The first step, I guess, is we’re going to have a pasture assessment done and we’re going to do that through the province and the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association and kind of see just basically what types of projects go hand in hand with the program,” said Garth Mitchell, chief administration officer of the Rural Municipality of Wallace-Woodworth.

“Once we get an idea, then we’ve got 18 months or so to do the projects. Council has committed their share of the funding into the project so finances are all in place. We just need to organize the work and get it done.”

The 4,000-acre Kirkella Community Pasture has been in operation since the 1930s and last year provided grazing for more than 1,300 head of cattle, said Mitchell. It is managed by a pasture committee, which will work with the RM on the recently funded project.

Mitchell said improvements to existing fences and installation of more cross fencing to enhance grazing options are among the possibilities.

“If we do some more cross fencing, we can do some more rotational grazing and keep the cattle moving around in a bit more of a controlled manner.”

Kirkella is all native pasture, which likely played a role in getting access to conservation trust funds, Mitchell added.

“I think that was one of our bonuses in the application into the conservation trust is that it is basically native undisturbed land. Wildlife and the cattle can coexist within there. Its kind of an interesting, unique little parcel of land,” he said.

“We were fortunate to get in on the first round of applications and we’re looking forward to enhancing the pasture and keeping it going.”

The grant was one of more than 40 projects funded by the Manitoba government’s new trust, developed to fund various conservation projects. It was part of the 2018 budget so this is the first round of projects involved.

The Alonsa and McCreary community pastures were also allocated $32,500 through the trust for projects to enhance range health.

For Kirkella, provincial funds will help pasture patrons in various ways, Mitchell said.

“The patrons in the past have been able to pay, I think, reasonable rates of grazing rent and that’s always managed to pay the bills, so it’s not something that other ratepayers within the municipality have had to subsidize at all,” he said.

“It’s basically a user pay scenario. This kind of extra funding will help enhance that without having to up the rates.”

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