From left: Ernie Bayduza, Ken Shewchuk, Intermountain Conservation District chair Syd Puchailo, Nature Conservancy of Canada director of conservation Kevin Teneycke, Jack Bremner, John Towle, Aaron Kulbacki, Lawrence Safronetz and landowner Ivan Leschasin, who has secured the habitat on his property.
The nuthatch is among the species that will thrive in the protected parcel of aspen parkland.
The blue jay is among the species that will thrive in the protected parcel of aspen parkland.
A parcel of aspen parkland southwest of Grandview is now protected with a conservation easement.
This is the first agreement carried out with a unique partnership that includes the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Intermountain Conservation District.
Located in the Pleasant Valley district, this rolling tree-covered property holds special significance for the landowner.
"If the bush was ever cut down, it would break my heart," Ivan Leschasin said.
"I was an organic farmer and cropped part of it," he said, adding that it has been dormant for six years now. The bulk of the 159-acre property, consisting of trembling aspen, wetlands and small grassy clearings, remains in a natural state.
This pocket of aspen and white spruce forest makes excellent wildlife habitat that helps link Duck Mountain and Riding Mountain, according to Aaron Kulbacki, Intermountain Conservation District manager.
"It is a relatively natural area, and while it is just a small parcel, it plays a very important role in helping to connect the habitat found in these two protected areas."
This is a unique arrangement involving the Nature Conservancy of Canada, IMCD and Ivan Leschasin. It is the first partnership agreement where these two conservation agencies have worked together.
The IMCD, headquartered in Ethelbert, provided funding for the project while the NCC holds the easement, according to Gerald Forsyth, a Nature Conservancy of Canada securement representative.
This new partnership with NCC seemed like the perfect opportunity for a joint project that would protect a small, yet critical piece of habitat, said Syd Puchailo, chairperson of the Intermountain Conservation District.
"It’s not very often that you have individuals who are willing to leave their land in a natural state," Puchailo said. "It is refreshing to see it kept that way."
"We are seeing a lot of critical pieces of marginal land being broken up and cleared," he added, explaining that this is a reality in the farming world brought on by high land prices and input costs that make it difficult for farmers to make a profit.
"With the high cost of farmland, more land is being bought up and amalgamated into larger portions."
This picturesque wetland-speckled tract of rolling aspen forest holds many fond memories for the landowner. It is a place where Leschasin spent many hours enjoying the outdoors, cutting firewood and experiencing nature.
He was born and raised in the immediate area and attended a small country school that was located directly across the road.
Realizing that the property would inevitably change hands, Leschasin wanted to take steps immediately to ensure that the land would never be cleared or drained, today or in the future. Protecting this valuable habitat with a conservation easement seemed the best option for this conservation-minded landowner.
"I heard about the NCC from a local guy who has a caveat on five of his quarter-sections," he said. "I was interested in the fact that the bush would never be cut down."
Leschasin has owned the property since 1986. He was an organic grain farmer and operated a welding business before retiring. He continues to live a short distance down the road from this important habitat.
For more information about conservation agreements or any of the Nature Conservancy of Canada programs, please call the Manitoba Region’s toll-free number 1-866-683-6934, its Brandon office at 1-204-725-5987 or visit the NCC website: www.natureconservancy.ca/
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 27, 2012