Pheasants Forever Canada (PFC) has been active in advancing the conservation of ditches and right of ways with the Government of Alberta (GOA). The goal, as set out by the United Conservative Party (UCP) states “Enforce actions against “trespass farming” i.e. protect 66-foot-wide public right of ways against conversion to crops or draining of ditches next to rural roads.”
PFC commends the UCP leadership for recognizing the value this public infrastructure provides to the landscape.
Ditches function much like wetlands, providing flood attenuation that saves municipalities from having to repair and replace culverts, bridges and roads. As importantly, healthy ditches provide a necessary buffer that filters nutrients applied to agricultural fields that would otherwise run off into our rivers and lakes, contributing to deteriorated water quality. Other benefits of these ditches include their contribution to carbon sequestration, biodiversity and the provision of critical habitat for pollinators and other insects, songbirds and upland gamebirds.
Right of ways provide all of the above and more. Studies show that healthy vegetation surrounding cereal crops enhance predatory insect populations that pray on agricultural pests, resulting in less use of insecticides for the producer and a win win for society.
Right of ways also provide corridors for recreational access and use, from berry picking to bike rides to dog walks, right of ways get Albertan’s outside and help keep us healthy.
In the coming months PFC, in cooperation with GOA will look into the possibility of developing an awareness strategy targeted at producers in Southern Alberta focusing on the societal benefits of intact and healthy ditches and right of ways.
PFC’s President Perry McCormick was able to take Honorable Minister Jason Nixon on a windshield tour of Southern Alberta to see ditch destruction first hand.
“He gets it” says McCormick, who added that the Minister sees it as an access issue as well, which is important to Albertans.
PF Canada President, Perry McCormick & Honorable Minister Jason Nixon discussing conservation of ditches & right of ways
Why does the Producer on the right get to farm our ditch?