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Couple Partners With NCC To Protect Land

for Nature conservancy of canada

A recently erected fieldstone cairn is a monument to the family of Joe and Natalie Kucher and commemorates the history of and contributions made by their family in the Onanole area. Joe Kucher immigrated to Canada from Bohemia (now Austria and the Czech Republic) and together, in 1920, he and his wife Natalie began their lives together on a parcel of land east of Onanole and south of what is now Riding Mountain National Park. They were blessed with six children Annie, Mary, Frank, Rose, Stanley and Margaret.

Son Frank was born in Onanole and has called the area home for 82 years. He attended Whirlpool School until 1941. Because of the Second World War, the federal government gave approval for boys to leave school in Grade 7 to help with the harvest, so Frank was only 13 years old when he entered the workforce.

As a young man, Frank worked on the Clear Lake Golf Course, regularly dropping in to the Wigwam Restaurant in Wasagaming where he met his wife-to-be, Leona, who was waitressing there.

After marrying, they lived for over 50 years on the quarter section of land where they now live, a few minutes drive east of Onanole. Leona says they lived like pioneers in the beginning, in a 16×20-foot house that they had moved from Virden. Kids don t take up too much room, said Frank, so we had four of em!

When asked if they farmed the land, both the Kuchers laughed. Yes, we did, said Frank, but the profits were so big, we had to give it up! Leona added, There wasn t much of a market for quack grass and stones!

The north half of the quarter has never been developed or broken up in any way, said Frank, and over the years it has been home to many species of wildlife. A classic example of Aspen Parkland, renowned for its biodiversity, the Kuchers land contains a mix of forest, grasslands and wetlands, including a peat bog. The area is habitat for many species and the Kuchers have seen black bear, elk, moose, white-tailed deer, wolves, coyotes, fox, lynx, bobcats and cougar. Frank says there are many species of waterfowl and birds, too.

Over the years the Kuchers have seen an increase in the development of new roads and cottages throughout the area, which is reducing the wild space around them. In order to protect their property from development in the future, the Kuchers contacted Conservation Manitoba and were referred to the Manitoba Region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), where they dealt with the

Frank and Leona Kucher feel good knowing that they have protected their land for future generations.photo: candy irwiN

securement officer and their one-time neighbour, Jean Rosset.

The Kuchers wanted to permanently protect all but the 14 acres where their house and yard are situated, and still own the title to their land and can continue to rent out a pasture for cattle grazing, cut wood and maintain trails for their own use. Frank said, We found the Nature Conservancy of Canada representatives were well informed and very easy to work with.

It only took four months from the first conversation with Rosset to the signing of the agreement. The very next day, their yard was full of jumpers, maybe 60 or 70 of them, almost as if they knew they were protected, said Leona.

They are now secure in the knowledge that they have left a meaningful legacy for their four adult children, 11 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and the two more that are on the way!

The partnership between the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Frank and Leona Kucher is one of many important steps towards reaching the NCC Manitoba Region s goal of protecting 36,000 acres of habitat.

Of course, farmers need room to grow our food, says Rosset, but, some places are better suited to provide habitat. Rosset is working with landowners to reclaim more than 100 wetlands that were previously drained, in order to provide further habitat for wildlife.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada s leading national land conservation organization. Since 1962, it has protected more than two million acres of ecologically significant land. Depending on the needs and wishes of the landowner, the NCC will conserve land in a number of traditional and creative ways, and will buy or accept donations of land that meet specific conservation goals. It also buys or accepts donations of conservation easements, which restrict development on ecologically significant lands.

For more information contact the Manitoba Regional Office of the NCC at 1-866-683- 6934 or visit www.naturecon servancy.ca/mb.

Candy Irwin writes from Lake Audy, Manitoba.

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