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Shuttleworth / Dornn land purchased for conservation
Minnedosa, Man.—“My father would be delighted to know that the land he farmed and loved was to become one of Ducks Unlimited’s newest conservation projects.”
Elaine Dornn, daughter of long time Minnedosa area resident and MLA Charles “Lem” Shuttleworth, was pleased to hear that Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) had successfully completed the purchase of a quarter section of land that was once part of the Shuttleworth family farm.
“The land has been in our family for as long as I can remember, certainly since before I was born, and I’m thrilled to know that it will remain intact as valuable wildlife habitat for years to come,” says Dornn. “My dad was always a big supporter of DUC.”
Shuttleworth actively worked the family farm just southeast of Minnedosa until his election to the Manitoba Legislature in 1949. There he served as a Liberal-Progressive member for 10 years. Following his time in public office, he became the first chairman of the Canadian International Grain Institute, and was inducted in the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1996.
“The land had always been in grass as I recall, and over the years we rented it to neighbors to pasture their cattle,” says Dornn. “I can remember being on horseback as a young farm girl, rounding up the cattle and herding them into a corner of the pasture for their owners to tend. I loved it.”
One of the most interesting aspects of this property is the complete lack of wetland drainage and degradation, says Mark Francis, Head of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited Canada in Brandon.
“Mr. Shuttleworth and his family must have had a strong conservation ethic to have resisted the temptation to drain at least a few of those basins over the years,” says Francis. “It’s fantastic to see all 46 ponds still performing as nature designed, producing a variety of ecological services for Manitoba.
Francis says that when DUC acquires land in the Prairie Pothole Region, they typically need to plug ditches and drains in order to recover or restore wetlands that were lost or degraded. But in this case, it will only require managing the property to ensure it continues to provide those important services.
The property includes 49 acres of wetlands, as well as 22 acres of original native prairie uplands and 89 acres of cropland.
“We plan to convert the cropland to grasses, more typical of the area pre-settlement,” says Francis. “Then we will manage the entire upland component every three to four years through a combination of grazing and haying, possibly followed up by burning.”
Francis says that this regime will ensure a strong and vigorous stand, suitable for nesting waterfowl and other wildlife. Areas of undisturbed grass cover are vital to upland nesting ducks, such as mallards and blue-winged teal, to successfully hide their nests from predators. Careful grass management will also ensure consistent value to cattle producers as they are invited to hay or graze the property during those management windows.
“Funding to acquire these projects comes from a variety of sources,” says Francis. “The Ducks Unlimited family is ground zero. The funds we raise at grassroots events across Manitoba and the United States leverage matching funds from a number of state governments.”
Those amounts are then matched by the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and also leverage funding from the Government of Canada under the federal Natural Areas Conservation Program.
Francis says there are many partners involved in these projects, all seeking specific outcomes such as increased biodiversity, mitigation of climate change through storage of carbon, filtration of harmful nutrients and pesticides, and enhanced waterfowl production.
“This will be an outstanding legacy to my father and our family,” says Dornn. “Dad was always very much in tune with nature, and it is wonderful to know that the land will continue to be well cared for.”