Improvements to Kirkella Community Pasture

·4 min read

A 3,250-acre community pasture in the RM of Wallace-Woodworth has had significant improvements. that was completed in 2020. The Kirkella COmmunity Pasture received funding through The Conservation Trust, a fund made available through the Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative which is delivered via the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

The funding was brought to the attention of the RM of Wallace-Woodworth thanks to the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association (MFGA), according to Garth Mitchell, CAO of Wallace-Woodworth.

“It was brought to our attention through the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association that we would be a prime candidate to access some development funds through the Conservation Trust. So it was through a three-way relationship that we made this development,” said Garth Mitchell, Chief Administrative Officer of Wallace-Woodworth

He says that the MFGA played a key role in helping guide the RM through the application process, as well as throughout the rest of the project.

The Kirkella Community Pasture is located near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, just north of the Trans-Canada highway and is made available to producers in the RM to utilize. Producers can pay a fee and book cattle into the community pasture to graze.

Through the grant, the community pasture had improvements made that helped resolve some concerns around the grazing area and water supply.

“The Wallace-Woodworth Kirkella Community Pasture has been operated by the municipality for a number of years, and we’ve always been looking for ways to improve and provide a better community pasture. We were fortunate enough to access some funds through The Conservation Trust. We partnered with The Conservation Trust group and the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association to do some renovations. A lot of scrubbing for fence areas and improving some better pasture area, as well as the creation of some more stable water supplies, then some fencing to isolate and allow the usage of those in the pasture throughout the year,” said Mitchell.

The biggest concern that was tackled was the issue with the water supply. In past years, there have been dry spells that have proven difficult for producers. To remedy this, three dugouts were installed in the pasture.

“I think the secure water supply, these are three very large dugouts and they’re fenced off in paddock areas so they can be accessed in various areas of the pasture. Water for cattle is very important as we’ve been through some dry times in the past, so we can’t always guarantee on the smaller sources. SO these large water sources are going to be very important.”

The total cost of the project came to $200,000. The MFGA assisted the RM of Wallace-Woodworth through the project as it was one of the first projects through the grant and they wanted to inspire others to apply for funding from the Conservation Trust. According to Executive Director with the MFGA, Duncan Morrison, they hope it acts as a flagship for others to utilize the available money.

“The Manitoba Government rolled out a program called the Conservation Trust which is essentially an endowment fund based on an investment which allowed groups like Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association to partner with others, in this case, the Rural Municipality of Wallace-Woodworth,” Morrison explained.

The project saw multiple improvements made on the pasture which included major scrubbing of woody pasture species that affected grazing and the construction of three dugouts to provide water for cattle and wildlife. Additionally, new fences were installed to help streamline the process of grazing rotations.

“They were concerned about drought. They knew they wanted to get water onto the pasture. They strategically placed three 1,000,000 gallon dugouts to help, and then that became the foundation for their other work. They were able to plan better fencing etcetera.” “The focus on water management in the pasture was a very key driver,” Morrison said.

The encroachment of the woody species was also a key driver in the project, according to Morrison.

“There was quite a bit of encroachment and woody species that were coming into the pasture, and it was affecting the quality of the pasture certainly from a grazing perspective. They did a massive mowing process to push back the shrubbery and open up large amounts of previously non-grazed acres.”

MFGA also provided the project with a review on the pasture through experts in rangeland health and from Assiniboine West Watershed District, who looked over the pasture and suggested different enhancements that could be made.

Morrison explained that this project was extremely important to them as grasslands are shrinking and this area not only benefited cattle and producers but also the wildlife as well.

“It’s going to be great for grazing, it’s going to be great for wildlife, and it’s great for the producers who are going to use it.”

Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator