Red Deer County has rolled out a $65,000 environmental stewardship program aimed at the municipality’s 6,200 acreages.
About 41,670 acres of land are owned by acreage owners in parcels ranging from 0.25 acres up to 40 acres.
Many of them are located near areas designated as environmentally significant, such as wetlands, lakes, rivers, streams, slopes and native forest or prairie.
“One of the key things is that the acreages didn’t really fit in with the farm programs that we have,” said Mayor Jim Wood on Tuesday.
A recently-developed Green Acres Guide will form the basis of the stewardship program, which will focus on encouraging landowners to undertake specific actions to preserve the environment.
Workshops will be held to kick off the program and then county staff will work with landowners to develop a stewardship plan for their properties.
There will be follow-up later to measure the impacts on waterways or other areas.
The county’s goal is to have by 2016 at least 200 acreage owners undertake at least one environmental action on their land and for 500 owners to have completed a Green Acres Guide workbook.
“I think that it shows that Red Deer County is continuing to place the environment high on the list of what our priorities are,” said Wood.
The cost of the project includes the cost of turning a seasonal conservation assistant position into a full-time job.