Kirkella Community Pasture receives conservation trust funding

MFGA and RM of Wallace-Woodworth partnership among conservation projects announced by Province

Partners of the Kirkella Community Pasture Association’s Grassland Habitat Enhancement Project received great news from the Province of Manitoba’s new Conservation Trust after their project received $100,000 for a two-year pasture improvement project on the community-owned pasture.

Kirkella Community Pasture was among more than 40 projects and $2.2 Million that Premier Brian Pallister and Sustainable Development Minister Hon. Rochelle Squires announced at an event held at the Assiniboine Park’s Qualico Family Centre in Winnipeg recently. The 4,000 acre pasture is located in the Rural Municipality of Wallace- Woodworth in western Manitoba and has significant environmental and cattle production values.

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Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA), the Rural Municipality of Wallace-Woodworth, and the pasture’s patrons committee have formed a partnership to deliver the project. Wallace- Woodworth and the patron committee will lead the on-field pasture improvements and actions, MFGA will lead the project administration, reports and communications.

“The Kirkella Community Pasture is a municipally-owned tract of land that includes grassland, wetland and woodland habitats that have been managed by a municipally-operated grazing cooperative for many decades,” said Garth Mitchell, Wallace-Woodworth’s Chief Administrative Officer. “We see a great opportunity to undertake improvements to the pasture for the purpose of enhancing grazing opportunities as well as the environmental benefits that result from more effective grazing and landscape management practices.”

The Conservation Trust was announced in Budget 2018 and is now permanently endowed so it can support and inspire important conservation projects for generations. The fund is expected to generate about $5 million a year and will be managed by The Winnipeg Foundation, with projects administered, tracked and evaluated by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC). According to Tim Sopuck, CEO of MHHC, the Kirkella Community Pasture is a productive, intact tract of grassland, wetland and associated habitats in a highly altered landscape.

“Improving the management capability of the area will translate into environmental amenity enhancement as well as improved management and production of livestock,” says Sopuck. “Based on the results of a pasture assessment, this project will deliver a combination of range enhancement activities, including fencing, livestock watering and control of invasive shrubs among other benefits.”

Virden-area producer Darren Chapman is the chair of the MFGA. As a local resident, Chapman is familiar with the Kirkella Community Pasture. He says the chance to work with Wallace-Woodworth at Kirkella was a great fit for MFGA.

“We are a producer-led organization that advocates for the retention of existing grasslands for all the great reasons this project was approved by the Conservation Trust,” says Chapman. “MFGA is proud to be a partner and we look forward to working with Wallace-Woodworth team. We’d also like to congratulate the Province of Manitoba, MHHC and the Winnipeg Foundation for the Conservation Trust. It’s quite an accomplishment to bring together all the different groups on common ground. From MFGA’s perspective, it’s a win-win win.”

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