2023 Summer Meeting
July 15, 2023 near Stettler, Alberta
Summary provided by Lisa Raatz- Thank you, Lisa!
The International Mountain Section members and friends gathered for our first post-pandemic tour on July 15, 2023, at the Rochon Sands Provincial Park near Stettler, Alberta. Several speakers were invited to cover aspects of our tour theme: Rangeland Management in the central Alberta Aspen Parkland and was a well-organized event thanks to our section vice president, Natasha Rinas and Alberta Director, Jillian Kaufmann!
We started the day led by Mandy Couve, a senior biologist with Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), who gave us some history of ACA and the scale and diversity of land bases they manage. We visited the 1120-acre Buffalo Lake Moraine Conservation area to talk about ACA’s objectives of using grazing to conserve wildlife habitat and balance the interests of local ranchers, hunters, and those interested in using the land for recreation. There was lots of positive discussion and ideas exchanged about managing aspen encroachment and grazing frequency at the site.
We discussed the important role of grazing in the Aspen Parkland region led by Ross Adams, Range Management Specialist with the Government of Alberta. Ross talked about assessing Rangeland Health and thinking about management goals and outcomes, especially during drought such as what much of Alberta has been experiencing. Ross mentioned that as a kid, he “cut his teeth attending IMS tours with family”, which has instilled his passion for and career choice in range management; A notable point for the parents attending the tour with their children!
We walked through a nearby grazing lease where Felix Gebbink, Rangeland Agrologist with the Government of Alberta, talked about aspen control using mechanical and herbicide methods. The current grazing lessee was planning to mechanically remove some aspen to increase grass production in a several areas of the lease. We looked at some historical aerial maps to see how much aspen had increased since the 1950’s and discussed how the government gives permission to make changes and the challenge of balancing recreation access with cattle grazing.
On the same site in an area that had burned in the recent past, Renny Grilz, Resource Management Officer with Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatchewan, talked about grassland conservation using prescribed fire. Renny discussed some of the considerations around conducting prescribed burns in the western prairie provinces, including changing public perceptions of fire. While the air was smokey from fires burning in NW Alberta and BC, Renny did not have to convince IMS attendees that fire is an important brush and aspen management tool and that decades of fire suppression have contributed to the current fuel load.
The tour concluded with a plant identification quiz at the Buffalo Moraine Conservation area, bringing back a long-standing plant quiz tradition at IMS tours. The competition was fierce since many (if not most) of our tour attendees are former University of Alberta and Montana State University Range Team alumni. Participants enjoyed the challenge and we reconnected with and made new IMS friends over burgers back at the campground, a fitting end to the day!
2022 Fall Meeting
2021 Fall Meeting
2020 Fall Meeting
Resources from the fall 2020 online meeting:
Katie Meiklejohn – Ranch Advisory Partners – Bulls-eye Range Health Assessment: www.ranchadvisoroy.com
Rick Caquelin – NRCS – Range Health Overview: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mt/home/
Ross Adams – Alberta Environment and Parks – Alberta Range Health Assessment Tools: https://www.alberta.ca/range-health.aspx
Riparian Health – partnership with Cows and Fish: https://cowsandfish.org/riparian-health/
Barry Irving – University of Alberta (retired) – field videos on YouTube of getting water to cattle at several ranches; Thanks to this group of ranchers for showing their innovations and to Barry for creating these videos!
Video #1 – Joe and Sandy Dahm, Tomahawk, AB
Video #2 – plowing pipeline
Video #3 – Larry and Ian Kidd, Kidd Brothers Ranch, Mayerthorpe, AB
Video #4 – Kirk Wildman, Towaw Cattle Co., Sangudo, AB
Bonus Video not played during the webinar – pipe fusion technique