Confessions of an NCC tour guide: Day One
This past October, four of us ladies (...women, females, gals...ya let's go with gals) from the Manitoba Region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) embarked on a two-day survey of NCC properties across three natural areas. The purpose of this tour of sorts was to introduce Lisa and Christine — Manitoba’s development coordinator and communications manager, respectively — to the on-the-ground work and landscapes that make up the daily grind of our work. The remainder of our quartet was comprised of myself and Julie, our manager of stewardship programs.
Armed with most of a game plan, we set out. First stop...Well, Brandon to pick me up because I don’t work in Winnipeg. So second stop, property number one, nestled south of Riding Mountain National Park in our Riding Mountain Aspen Parkland Natural Area.
Our hike included a visit to recently restored wetlands, a meander through mixed wood forest and a discussion about forest and grassland restoration. Our intended visit to a small patch of remnant fescue prairie had been thwarted by some very industrious beavers who had decided they need a second dam and flooded the one I usually use for crossing.
By this time it was already late afternoon. Having been sidetracked by cleaning up and documenting some debris we hurried on to our next stop.
The third stop on our list was the Riding Mountain House Property, which was once the location (or at least near the location) of a small trading post along the Little Saskatchewan River. However, our interest was in visiting one of our management units where we have restored a number of wetlands and implemented a prescribed grazing program in an effort to rejuvenate the soil and return permanent cover to a previously cultivated field.
Upon arriving we discovered that an itchy steer had decided that our sign provided a good scratching post, and had rubbed said sign off its bolts. But no worries: Christine jumped to the rescue and "fixed" the sign right up (at least temporarily).
And so with the sun setting on that small victory, we continued on our adventure to our next stop in town to gas up and pick up whatever supper items I had forgotten. Or so everyone thought...
I had other plans, and instead of navigating Julie towards town, I directed her to yet another property, where I needed to verify the presence of a suspected occurrence of common tansy. Despite the high number of twists and turns, no one seemed to suspect we weren’t headed to Rossburn — until the final turn landed us on a dirt “road.” By then we were already almost there so I got my impromptu invasive species survey.
I was forgiven in the end (I think), as Christine realized that this was the first property she helped close after she joined NCC.
After that it was essentially dark, so we hurried on to town and then to our final stop and accommodations for the night: our Elk Glen fieldhouse. We were all hungry at this point so we quickly fired up the barbeque and started up a small bonfire to wind down the day.
This is where Christine picked up her greatest lesson of the day: although it feels good to put your feet up at the end of a long day, the soles of your boots will in fact melt if you leave them on the edge of the firepit for too long!
We still had lots to do the next day, so we hit the sack...
Tune in next Monday for Part Two of our adventure!