Working together for the Whitemouth River Watershed
Jordan Becker, Whitemouth River Watershed (Photo by NCC)
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) recently held a workshop in southeast Manitoba to discuss the future of the Whitemouth River Watershed Natural Area. Attendees included representatives from the community, federal, conservation partners and provincial and municipal governments.
The Whitemouth River Watershed is one of nine natural areas in Manitoba where NCC focuses its work.
While attendees have various backgrounds and interests, all share a desire to maintain this unique landscape. The watershed is the meeting place of the boreal coniferous forest, vast peatlands and the eastern Superior mixed forest. This watershed also contains intact wilderness, a productive agricultural and resource economy and excellent water quality (in comparison to some watercourses in Manitoba).
Attendees examined the threats to and strengths of the watershed. They shared their perspectives and ideas, and discussed potential strategies for moving forward. This information will inform NCC's conservation work in the area.
Topics of discussion also included the Whitemouth River Watershed's wetlands, waterways, bogs and fens. These habitats are home to the nationally and provincially threatened carmine shiner. Rare plants like the bloodroot plant and threatened butterflies such as the mottled duskywing are also found here.
A presentation by Jeff Long from Manitoba Sustainable Development's Wildlife and Fisheries Branch focused on new and emerging invasive species, such as rusty crayfish and zebra mussels. He also discussed the roles of conservation organizations, the government and the community in ensuring the health of the area's natural communities.
Discussions also included the need for being respectful of the human heritage of the area, and its natural history. It was acknowledged that European settlers worked very hard to live on these lands. There is a local history and knowledge that needs to be taken into account when working towards a shared vision of healthy landscapes and the conservation of natural areas that are often responsible for attracting people to the area.
NCC was grateful to all who attended and for the varied points of view provided.
"We want to make sure that we think about all factors which could affect a local area such as the Whitemouth River Watershed," stated Jordan Becker, NCC's assistant conservation biologist in Manitoba. "It's important that we take an integrated approach to our planning process for a natural area. We may not agree on everything, but that doesn't mean we can't work together towards a better tomorrow."
- NCC has worked in the Whitemouth River Watershed since 2010. NCC has been pleased to partner with local landowners who have donated land or entered into conservation agreements.
- A conservation agreement is a voluntary, legal agreement between NCC and a landowner or government agency. The agreement permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values while still allowing for compatible economic uses, such as grazing and other uses not specified in the agreement.