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#2: Feb. 17, 2020: Healthy Communities protect and promote natural areas.

Natural Areas?

A healthy community will have places where you can go for a peaceful walk, in a natural setting. In Manitoba we are not short of space. Only a portion of our territory is suitable for agriculture or resource extraction. We have endless stretches of forest and prairie that that are basically surplus to our economic needs. We have lots of wilderness, much of it close by.

We could make better use of it.

Wildlife Management Areas

Some decades back our Provincial government did a very good thing. Across the province there were expanses of what, from and agricultural standpoint, was surplus land. Rocky, dry, hilly, or marshy – for some reason it just didn’t pay to farm it. It had little value in our economic scheme. But it often had other value.


 
The sand hills near Lauder weren’t much use to a farmer, but they were a great place to take a walk, to experience a unique landscape, to view a particularly distinct section of the Souris River Valley.



Likewise, the sandy dry terrain overlooking where that Souris River empties into the Assiniboine.

http://www.virtualmanitoba.com/Gallery/SourisMouth/index.html

 

The rocky, steep valley of the Souris in the Souris Bend, upstream from that point, offers the most dramatic river valley overlooks to be found in Manitoba, but farmers long ago found it too steep and rocky for the plow.

http://www.virtualmanitoba.com/Gallery/GregoryMill/index.html

These and other spots were purchased at what one can only assume was a pretty reasonable cost, and designated as Wildlife Management Areas.
Yes, they had hunting in mind, but hunting seasons are short – we have plenty of nature to go around.

And, yes, we already have a network of Provincial Parks. But they are manicured and managed. They have serviced campgrounds and designated trails. They cost us quite a bit of money to operate.

The WMA’s are a more natural place to visit.

https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/wildlife/habcons/wmas/



With just a little bit of investment and a bit of promotion they could be a much bigger part of a healthy community agenda. With a little supervision, regulation and enforcement they could become a low-cost / high value place to experience the natural world. 

But a recent experience indicates that our government doesn’t see it that way.

Letters to Politicians

May 27, 2017
Minister of Sustainable Development
& Wildlife Branch

Please direct this concern to the appropriate person.

We are disturbed by the use (and abuse) of the Assiniboine Corridor WMA - at Souris Mouth by inconsiderate gun enthusiasts for target practice and general mayhem.

This historically important and beautiful site is being trashed. The attached photos show destruction of signage and litter ... hundreds of shell casings - beer cans and cigarette packages.

The vandalism sends a clear message as to what these people think about the  "ecologically significant" area.


That is only half the picture. Imagine how disconcerting it is to have one's Sunday afternoon walk marred by gunfire. What does that have to do with the concept of Wildlife Management?

The target practice area they have set up along the trail send a clear message to the rest of us...they own this spot.

Are guns allowed in this space (it wasn't hunting season - they are just playing).?

If so... WHY?

Thank you,


Ken & Bev Storie
Brandon Mb.




Mr. Ken Storie Brandon MB
Dear Mr. Storie:
Thank you for your email to the Honourable Cathy Cox, Minister of Sustainable Development, regarding information you provided regarding target shooting and litter in the Assiniboine Corridor Wildlife Management Area. I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Minister.
Wildlife Management Areas are accessible to the public and the use of firearms is not restricted provided that they are used in a safe manner. Unfortunately, some people do abuse the privilege and leave behind litter. The litter associated with target shooting is unlawful and can be dealt with by our enforcement officers. Should you observe this activity in future, I would encourage you to report it immediately through the T.I.P. Line by calling 1-800-782-0076.
Wildlife and Fisheries Branch Box 24, 200 Saulteaux Crescent Winnipeg MB R3W 3J3 CANADA
 
Yours sincerely,
James Duncan Director




My Response…

Thank you for the information.

I will certainly report anyone I see litter etc.

For the record...

I have to say that target shooting is a totally inappropriate use of Wildlife Management Areas. (I can see that hunting might be appropriate in some.)

I also see no reason to allow motor vehicles of any kind.

I'm pretty sure neither guns nor motor vehicles enhance the life of any wildlife remaining in the WMA's. They surely don't enhance the experience of those of us who would like to enjoy the use of these areas in a responsible (and sustainable) way.

 



A few rule changes and a bit of supervision could curb vandalism in the WMA’s

Essentially, those of us who actually care about the outdoors, about nature, about the planet, have to give way to those who so obviously don't.

I’m not sure how the current policies have anything to do with Wildlife Management or Sustainable Development.

Ken



This little exchange highlights my concern that we spend billions on highways, millions on full-service campgrounds, millions on Wellness Centres, swimming pools, ice rinks, paved walk and bike paths, spray parks, etc. while spending very little (and it would take very little) to make the best use of our natural areas.

This week's inspiration....

RADIO FREE VERMONT
A Fable Of Resistance
by Bill McKibben
Blue Rider Press

What if the people in a state decided that their values and lifestyle were at odd with the norms of the country at large? What if an aging idealist who saw the world he loved slipping away, was able to act as a flashpoint for that general state of mind?  What if they  imagined that our centralized, heavily marketed, brand conscious conspicuous consumption-based world could be replaced by a community based upon: “Vermont milk, Vermont beer, Vermont music,” a place of a “free local economy, where neighbors make things for neighbors—and so they actually bother to give them some taste, body, and character.”

More Manitoba Natural Places...



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