Conservation Partners program aims to connect landowners with donors

A conservation program recently introduced by Red Deer County is aiming to bring landowners and donors together.

A conservation program recently introduced by Red Deer County is aiming to bring landowners and donors together.

Conservation Partners was launched by the county last month, and allows landowners carrying out conservation work to receive funding up to $5,000 for projects benefitting environmentally significant areas.

People, organizations and businesses may become a partner in the program by donating to one of the program’s three areas: water quality conservation, fish and wildlife habitat preservation and tree planting.

Donors may also choose to make a general contribution.

Example projects include riparian area fencing, improving septic systems, planting native trees and off-stream livestock watering.

Red Deer County conservation coordinator Ken Lewis said the program aims to “care, connect and conserve”, by creating a partnership between landowners and people who support their conservation efforts.

“One of the hopes that we have with the program is that by bringing the two parties together, we can start to build relationships between landowners and those who want to support them,” he said.

Lewis said a number of landowners have expressed interest in taking part in the program, and several applications for funding have already been received.

County Mayor Jim Wood and councillors Penny Archibald and Philip Massier were among the first to make private donations to the program.

Conservation Partners replaces the county’s Off the Creek program, which similarly provided resources and funding for landowners’ conservation projects. Donations, however, were not part of that program.

“We are targeting the program a bit more on the environmentally significant areas, so that’s a bit of a change as well,” said Lewis.

With landowner consent, donors will be able to find out more about the projects they support.

“We’re going to be sharing all kinds of information,” said Lewis. “If that producer is okay with donors knowing where the project is, we’ll share that with those donors.”

Alternative Land Use Services is another program running in conjunction with Conservation Partners. It will provide landowners with annual payments for the ecological services and goods, such as wildlife habitat and clean water, that result from their projects.

Landowners and potential donors interested in participating in Conservation Partners are asked to contact Lewis at 403-342-8653 or contact him at klewis@rdcounty.ca.