The Assiniboine River Basin Initiative (ARBI) will set to work immediately on a series of projects and activities using new federal funding support announced earlier this month, the organization’s executive director says.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Catherine McKenna in Gimli earlier this month announced $3.8 million in project approvals under the ECC Lake Winnipeg Fund, with ARBI to receive a total of $400,000 from it.
This is one of the largest cash infusions their organization has received to date, said Wanda McFadyen.
“We’re very grateful for it. This really allows us to move forward,” she said.
The money will be put towards three key areas, including allocating $275,000 to a project to strategically target wetland reconstruction on annual cropland in the basin. There has been interest expressed among various partner groups to put more focus on this, McFadyen said, noting their five partners to carry out the groundwork on this will be the Assiniboine Watershed Stewards Association, Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards, Upper Souris Watershed Association and Lower Souris Watershed Committee, and Ducks Unlimited Saskatchewan.
“We’ve done a lot of work on pastures and hay land,” she said. “The group we’re working with has suggested it would like to work with agronomists and landowners and look at wetland restoration on some of the marginal cropland area as well.”
Another key area ARBI will direct funds to will be for training workshops to help its membership base learn how to more effectively engage with First Nations neighbours. There are many Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota and their residents are significantly affected by water issues, she said.
A third project the funding supports will be the ongoing transboundary meetings and events that will bring managers of the various sub-basins together.
Overall, what this will do is help ARBI begin to make some real progress on key areas stakeholders have identified as priorities in their guiding organizational document, its Framework Plan, McFadyen said.
“We can make some inroads at a basin scale, and deliver some of those educational components, do some work on the landscape, and engage First Nations,” she said.
“It’s great for the basin to see some of these things come to fruition.”