The Russell Game and Fish Association will soon be able to realize several important projects thanks to funding the organization was awarded from the Manitoba government.
The support comes from Manitoba’s Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund. The association, based in Russell, 176 kilometres northwest of Brandon, applied for funding from the enhancement fund this year.
The Manitoba government provided more than $1 million in grant funding this year under the enhancement fund, supporting 35 projects across the province. Russell Game and Fish was awarded $75,728 in support of three individual projects, which include Spear Lake and the association’s newly established gun range, located southwest of the community.
The aeration system on Spear Lake will be modernized with new technology, making it more efficient at delivering oxygen into the water. An improvement grant was awarded to the shooting range, allowing for the addition of a storage facility, bathroom and a roof over the shooting area. Some large trees will also be planted along with other clubhouse improvements. The final grant the association received was for a high-quality trap shooter and trap house for shooting clay pigeons.
Chris Mansell, president of Russell Game and Fish, said the funding is coming at the right time, as Spear Lake’s aeration system is in dire need of an upgrade.
“The one that’s there is ancient. It’s a large-bubble system, and the system we’re going to go to is a small-bubble system. It actually gets better oxygen into the water, and it’s going to create a bigger open area as well.”
The new system, Mansell said, will also prove to be cheaper to operate in the long term. It’s an integral part of keeping the lake’s trout healthy — something that’s important to the whole community.
“We’ve been working hard over the last four or five years now … to get Spear Lake back into a world-renowned trout fishing lake,” Mansell said.
Mansell said he’s also excited about the other projects the funding will go toward.
“We need to keep sport and conservation alive, and the funds from these grants help that.”
Mansell hopes the improvements made not just to the lake but to the shooting range, and the planned additions to it, will get more young people interested in outdoor hobbies.
“We’re hoping to get more young people involved, and that we can get the young people out and doing activities at our shooting range and at Spear Lake.”
In early July, Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt told the Sun the fund not only supports projects that are of benefit to the province’s anglers, hunters and trappers, but will go a long way to protecting Manitoba’s fish and wildlife populations as well.
“We have to think about tomorrow rather than today. Manitoba is a province with an abundant amount of lakes and hunting and fishing habitats.”
The province’s enhancement fund was established in 2014 as a partnership between the Manitoba government and hunters and anglers. Since then, it has supported upwards of 236 fish and wildlife projects. The fund is made possible by annual endowment revenue and is managed by the Winnipeg Foundation.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun