The “privacy” signs on the gates belie the friendly and welcoming couple whose acreage is just south of Stuart Lake in the Rural Municipality of Park. Fred and Karen Crivea live on their 39-acre hobby farm surrounded by their horses, kittens, rabbits and dogs.
Like many of us who live rurally, the Criveas cherish the nature around their peaceful home. The small lake alongside their house is host to a plethora of water birds, some of whom are just passing through, like the pelicans, but others, like the Canada geese, felt safe enough to parade their fuzzy hatchlings on the Criveas’ clipped lawn. A bald eagle regularly surveys their yard from a towering snag, and if it does hunt, Fred accepts it as, “Well, that’s nature.”
Both Fred and Karen take great delight in observing nature, and they are mindful of how they use their land. Dead trees are left standing for cavity nesters, like buffleheads, and barn swallow nests are left undisturbed. There is a sense that if the forest and wildlife flourish, the Criveas will as well. “We share our lives with the nature around us and we are the richer for it,” said Fred.
Fred is an experienced horseman who used to round up and move cattle on horseback on his family’s northern Interlake farm. He used to hunt, too, but he doesn’t anymore. Now, both Fred and Karen watch with amusement as coyotes visit their yard to feast on crabapples and berries in the winter.
Karen is a homemaker and Fred travels a great deal with his job — work that has taken him all around the world. Soon he will travel to Papua, New Guinea in South America for an extended period of time, where he will perform exploration drilling for precious metals. “I feel like I’ve seen it all,” said Fred, “but believe me, there’s no place more special than Manitoba!”
About a year ago, Fred and Karen went to an open house held by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Sometime later, after a chance meeting with securement representative, Jean Rosset (in the grocery store!), the couple began to think about protecting the 107 acres they also own, 17 acres of which are along the shore of Stuart Lake. “Everything the NCC stands for fit with our thinking perfectly,” said Fred.
The NCC has recently purchased the land, which is comprised of sloughs, small lakes and steep ravines, not very amenable to farming, although they still retain the right to take some hay off it for their horses. It is indeed, valuable riparian habitat, but what is particularly special is that it links Stuart Lake with a tract of land owned by Ducks Unlimited, making a long, protective corridor for all things natural and wild.
“Some things are more important than money,” said Fred. “You can’t take it with you when you go, but meanwhile, Karen and I can enjoy the satisfaction of having preserved 107 acres of habitat to be managed as a long-term stewardship by the NCC.” People are still welcome to walk on the land and enjoy it as the Criveas do. Research students might also find that the land provides data to support their studies, but the Nature Conservancy asks that the findings be shared with them, compiling a body of knowledge to benefit us all.
Since 1962, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a private, charitable organization, has protected over 2.6 million acres across Canada. It works hard to preserve some of the last cover that still exists, for our benefit and for the benefit of future generations. By doing so, conservation organizations like the NCC “ensure that there are homes for wildlife, a haven for recreation and a vital resource that cleans the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
The conservancy has protected 46,206 acres of ecologically significant land in Manitoba. To read about some of the work that has already been done within the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve go to www.natureconservancy.ca and follow the links to “Manitoba,” then to “Our Work” and to the “Riding Mountain Aspen Parkland Natural Area.”
Contact the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Manitoba Regional Office, toll free at 1-866-683-6934.