SANDRA M STANWAY
A new Ducks Unlimited restoration wetland on private land and over a road allowance was approved by county council last Thursday.
The 1.18 acre wetland, which needs final approval from the provincial government, is located about three-and-a-half miles northeast of Millicent. The water level in the current water basin will be raised 85 centimetres.
“We’re just enhancing it,” said Jonathan Pool, conservation program specialist at Ducks Unlimited in Duchess.
He said a one acre wetland is the most productive type of wetland for ducks to access in the spring.
“We’re not here to make a huge wetland that floods and affects everything,” Pool added.
The enhancement includes removing salt from the soil and returning organic matter.
Some councillors are concerned that one day in the future there may be a need to build an access road.
Council discussed speaking to the landowner about a land trade for flooding the 1.18 acres but they were assured by Pool that if there is a need, Ducks Unlimited would work with the county.
“We don’t have any issues or problems with that either,” he said.
Mark Harbicht, the county’s director of municipal services said on one hand he believes wetlands should be restored. On the other, he is, also concerned about the unknown road requirement.
“I do believe that flooding out road allowances to a greater degree than what they are currently the county may be looking at greater challenges,” he said.
Division 7 councillor Brian de Jong said it is logical and realistic to consider consolidating parcels for a future road.
“No. We can’t force people to consolidate for this type of situation,” said Wickert.
Under new regulations there are no land trades but using the province’s mitigation compensation rate for the Bow River Basin area of $10,000 per hectare Ducks Unlimited will pay $4,777.23.
“It’s paying the county basically to use this land for wetland,” said Alyce Wickert, the county’s manager of planning and development.
“I’m in favour of this project. It’s just going to enhance the wetlands in our county and in southern Alberta,” said Division 1 councillor Wayne Hammergren.