Fence fighting at Fairy Hill
I have been photographing in this area called Fairy Hill, which is a Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) property, for more than five years. Fairy Hill is 36 kilometres north of Regina on Highway 6. It is one of the most beautiful places in Saskatchewan and easily accessible for most people.
Last spring NCC created a trail with educational signage on Fairy Hill to enhance the experience of this natural place. This fall NCC decided that the old fencing on this property needed to be replaced so that animals and humans could be better protected. Nothing worse than to be caught on fallen barbed wire!
Sarah Ludlow, Conservation Volunteers coordinator in the Saskatchewan Region, explained that when NCC acquires land on which cattle are to be grazed, then the fence condition is checked and the fences are repaired or replaced, depending on which option is more cost effective.
In the case of Fairy Hill, the fences were not worth repairing so new fence was installed two to three metres inside the old existing fence. The potential issue for wildlife arises from the double fencing; for example, deer typically jump fences, and having two fences fairly close together means deer need to expend more energy because they have to jump twice (which is more of a problem during winter). And depending on how far apart the two fences are, deer may crash into the second fence while jumping the first.
For future properties, NCC is currently evaluating having the old fence removed at the same time the new fence is installed on a property or simply having a contractor remove existing old fences. In the meantime, we have Conservation Volunteers (CV) events to take down the old fences.
Volunteers get to work
Our group began work at 10 a.m. sharp on Friday, September 18. NCC provided us with gloves and other tools necessary. By 3 p.m. half a mile of old fence had been removed.
As Highway 6 runs through the property, we also picked up garbage along the road. Plastic in particular does not decompose well. As well as being unsightly, it is dangerous for animals and people.
As a city person, I’d never had experience fixing fences! I marveled as I watched my fellow volunteers and NCC staff do what I thought was impossible
Of the volunteers, only Bob had experience with such work. He told me that before he retired, he had a construction business, so using tools and working outside was normal for him. He has volunteered many times and kept up a long-term relationship with NCC relating to his land near Saskatoon.
Since I was the Roving Reporter for the day, I also got to know the NCC staff and finally met Sarah Ludlow. I had never met or knew what a land steward was, but now I know. I also met a work-study student, Emily, who is learning the ropes about the business of land conservation.
I learned that teaching, researching, public outreach and doing grunt work are necessary to make it all happen — these are just some of the jobs that the NCC staffers perform.
It was great to see everyone pulling together to do something positive in the landscape to restore it to its natural state.
Click on the pictures below to view this slideshow.
How it looks before fences were removed. (Photo by Gail F. Chin)
Volunteers and NCC staff hard at work. (Photo by Gail F. Chin)
Volunteers removing old barbed wire. (Photo by Gail F. Chin)
Volunteer wrestling with an old fence post. (Photo by Gail F. Chin)
Volunteers hard at work to remove fencing. (Photo by Gail F. Chin)