Alberta’s government is providing a $256,200 grant to the organization to better protect ditches and rights-of-way in southern Alberta against trespass farming, an illegal practice where producers either plant crops beyond their property lines – for example, in ditches or on public or Crown lands – or squat on sections of property they do not own or have a lease agreement to operate on.
The Pheasants Forever Canada project includes a public awareness campaign to explain how healthy rights-of-way lead to improved biodiversity outcomes. This is part of the government’s platform commitment to implement a common-sense conservation plan for a balanced approach to environmental stewardship.
Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a plan to breathe new life into Alberta’s economy and create new opportunities for every Albertan. It is a plan to build, to diversify, and to create jobs.
“The reality is environmentally protected public rights-of-way provide erosion control, carbon sequestration, cleaner air, cleaner water, flood and drought protection, as well as important habit for wildlife like upland game birds.”
“The leadership and public service provided by Pheasants Forever in helping protect public rights-of-way has benefits for farmers, hunters and the environment of rural communities across the province.”
“Healthy ditches and public rights-of-way have real value for farmers and their communities by providing important habitat but also other natural benefits, such as carbon sequestration, flood and drought mitigation, nutrient filtration and biodiversity.”
Environmentally protected ditches and right of ways provide erosion control, carbon sequestration, cleaner air, cleaner water, flood and drought protection as well as important habit for wildlife like upland game birds. Trespass farming leads to a loss of vegetation along ditches and rights-of-way which has a negative impact on the habitat of game birds and other species, including some endangered species.
Pheasants Forever Canada will meet with 14 municipalities over the term of the grant to identify gaps, best practices and opportunities for strengthening protection of ditches and rights-of-way. The project will run through 2023.
- Pheasants Forever Canada was formed in 1992 in response to a continuing decline of the Chinese ring-necked pheasant and other upland game bird populations in Western Canada.
- Species that nest in shrubs and trees along road rights-of-way include the endangered ferruginous hawk and loggerhead shrike, a species of special concern.
- When nest cover is removed, upland birds have fewer places to nest and nests are more easily detected by predators.