Water Narratives: Audrey Daines, ALUS Canada Red Deer County

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Usually, when we bring you stories of ALUS participants, we’re sharing a story of success and optimism. Some projects, with such hopeful intentions, are disrupted by competing interests or societal demands. One ALUS recipient, Audrey Daines, hoped that a fence along a lake spanning her property over to a neighbouring property would help enhance the quality of the riparian area and as a result, encourage more wildlife to make use of that spot. Last year, an electricity development was established across her property that may be contradicting her efforts.

Located just outside Innisfail, sits the Daines’ family farm. Audrey has had that property for over 60 years – since before her back patio view became that of the bustling Queen Elizabeth Highway. In those years, she has noticed many changes to her land and she has always known that allowing cattle access to the lake would hinder the health of it. Fencing the perimeter was a priority for her, but a big investment; it sounds like all the elements of a perfect ALUS project.

Red Deer County has had land improvement projects in place for several years preceding their partnership with the ALUS program. When Audrey first became connected with the Red Deer County, she was following up on an article in the County newspaper that led to the first fencing project on her land. By 2013, Red Deer County had partnered up with ALUS Canada and last year, Audrey was able to install fencing along the lake on her property with ALUS funds. These pre-existing relationships have proven to be an effective tool in growing the ALUS program in Red Deer county.

Since the installation of the fence, there has been noticable growth along the banks of the lake. Audrey shares with us that she is no longer as concerned with cattle wandering in her property, even though she has a substantially lower count these days. Areas that she had seen trampled down previously along the riparian area, are seemingly healthy and flourishing.

Initially, Audrey noticed the increase in birds and wildlife, but this summer was different than any she could remember. The waterfowl that she’d come to expect every year weren’t visiting her property. The electricity development through her neighbourhood was also responsible for some lost tree cover which she believes would be an additional factor in fewer birds finding their way to her property. While she worked hard to oppose the development, at this point, Audrey is hopeful the birds and wildlife will adjust to the new infrastructure and return next year.

Even with the challenges with the electricity development, the overall health of the lake and it’s immediate surrounding area have shown improvement. When meeting with Audrey, she seemed disheartened by the development, but still hopeful that projects like ALUS and support from communities, as she’s received from Red Deer County, will help improve habitat for waterfowl – creatures she’s grown to love.

 

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