The excessively wet spring of 2011 brought into sharp focus the need for some repairs to a wetland water control project on Clarence Williamson’s land near Kemnay, a few kilometres west southwest of Brandon.
“The control had essentially caved in, so it wasn’t letting any water out last year,” says John Williamson. “And when we had all that excess water and there was too much water in the pasture, I couldn’t even put the cattle is there because there was too much risk of foot rot or other problems.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada had originally constructed the dam in 1956, in collaboration with the previous landowner, Ross Hinch.
DUC contacted Williamson in the spring and came out in June to replace the damaged half-round control structure with a new 30-inch plastic pipe. This newly installed pipe in the dam, which also serves as a farm machinery crossing, will maintain the water level in this important wetland, allowing excess water flows to pass through the pipe and on downstream.
“This project has provided some great benefits in terms of creating permanent waterfowl habitat, helping to prevent flooding and erosion downstream within the watershed and improving water quality through filtering of nutrients,” says Cal Cuthbert of DUC.
“We cannot emphasize how vital the co-operation of landowners is like, John in maintaining these projects and how appreciative we are for his vision and stewardship.”
Williamson, whose father Clarence bought the land about 15 years ago, is happy to be able to move his cattle back onto the 10 acres of lush pastureland around the wetland, which also provides a water source for the herd.
He is also appreciative of DUC’s efforts in updating the project, which he recognizes has provided multiple benefits.
“It’s a good working partnership and it certainly helps me with my production by making the best use of the property. It’s not drainable or farmable land, but the control mechanism has value in holding back the water so I can pasture my cattle there and it protects the wildlife habitat at the same time,” says Williamson. “And it’s always nice to have some ducks around.”
» Angela Lovell is a Manitou-based freelance writer and editor. This article is on behalf of Ducks Unlimited.