More than $1M for fish, wildlife projects

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The Manitoba government is awarding more than $1 million in funding for 35 fish and wildlife improvement projects this year.

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The Manitoba government is awarding more than $1 million in funding for 35 fish and wildlife improvement projects this year.

In an announcement made by Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt, the province said the funding will be given to projects from the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund (FWEF).

In 2020, the government made a $20-million investment toward a partnership that would serve to support the anglers, hunters and trappers of the province while at the same time protecting Manitoba’s natural resources.

File A heron takes flight at the Riverbank Discovery Centre. Funding from the province will support various fish and wildlife projects in Manitoba.

“This significant investment will support projects that will benefit anglers, hunters and trappers while protecting Manitoba’s fish and wildlife populations.”

The program is funded by annual revenues from the $20-million endowment, which is managed by The Winnipeg Foundation. Ten per cent of the annual fees collected from angling, hunting and trapping licences also fund the endeavour.

Nesbitt said it’s important to think ahead when it comes to conservation, to ensure Manitoba’s natural resources will be a source of livelihood and enjoyment for residents of the province and visitors to it in the future.

“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 recent COVID-19 pandemic made many Manitobans realize just how important conservation is, as they enjoyed the province’s lakes, rivers, forests and parks.

“The pandemic drove home that people could have a staycation at home, and a lot of them took up fishing, boating, hunting, and continue to do so,” Nesbitt said, adding that with the price of fuel, likely a large amount of Manitobans will continue to want to spend their leisure time in the province.

He also hopes that tourism to Manitoba will pickup again soon as COVID-19 restrictions have eased.

“Manitoba is very well-known for its world-class fishing and hunting. We have a lot of Americans coming up, and we hope that, post-pandemic, those people can make it up into the province, because they contribute a lot to Manitoba’s economy.”

Nesbitt, who was sworn in as natural resources and northern development minister three weeks ago, is excited to see what else can be done for conservation in the province.

Carly Deacon, managing director with the Manitoba Wildlife Federation, shares Nesbitt’s enthusiasm. She said the announcement of funding to the FWEF is very important in the world of conservation.

“It’s a massive contribution, and it funds very much-needed conservation, research and education projects and essential conservation work on a high level provincewide, but also at a community grass-roots level as well.”

Deacon said it’s important to understand the role hunters, anglers and trappers play in conservation in Manitoba.

“When you have multiple stakeholders sharing a resource, enjoying hunting and angling either for recreation or for livelihood purposes, it’s important that all groups come together and share that so that our resources in fish and wildlife are sustained and managed appropriately.”

The FWEF will use the funding for projects that support habitat conservation and sustainable use of Manitoba’s fish and wildlife populations. Non-profit groups, academic institutions and community organizations can apply for funding toward eligible expenses for projects such as fish and wildlife population enhancement, monitoring and research, hunter, angler and trapper education and more.

James Montgomery, general manager of the Riverbank Discovery Centre in Brandon, said he’s interested in the potential of some projects there applying for funding from the FWEF. He’d like to see the installation of fishing nodes at the Riverbank Discovery Centre for members of the public to enjoy.

“We’ve been looking at improving public [fishing] access, in conjunction with the City of Brandon’s parks department since last summer,” Montgomery said. “Anything that enhances fish and wildlife is welcome, and Riverbank Discovery Centre is interested in looking further into this to see if anything is a good fit for us.”

» mleybourne@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @miraleybourne

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