An empty pump at the former Alberta Tourism Centre at the intersection of Hwy. 9 and 41 near Oyen, Alta. The County of Stettler is one municipality that is examining its own drought resiliency plan for this coming summer. ECA Review/S.SalkeldStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The County of Stettler Agriculture Services Board (ASB) approved grazing leases and heard that, likely due to drought, there’s more interest in those leases this year. The lease approvals were made at the April 23 regular board meeting.

The ASB is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

Councillors heard a report from Manager of Agriculture Services Quinton Beaumont regarding several parcels of County of Stettler land that were available for grazing leases.

“Lease land bid opening was held on March 27, 2024 at 9 a.m.,” stated Beaumont in his report to the board. “There were five parties that submitted bids for the two parcels open for tender for the remaining three years left of the grazing cycle. 

“Bids varied, some parties bid on both parcels as a whole and others split up the parcels. 

“Submissions varied from $5,577 per year to $2,600 per year. The lease land was granted to Kale Gist as determined by council. 

“The leases will extend until Oct. 1, 2026, to align with all other lease lands owned by the County of Stettler. Synchronizing the timing of lease expirations by extending or reducing the length of new leases reduces advertising costs and staff time required to organize the tendering process.”

As the board discussed this report Beaumont noted that average offers seemed to be slightly up this time around and he attributed that to the dry conditions; Beaumont suspected drought is increasing producer interest in grazing leases.

Coun. Dave Grover asked if the water holes on those leases had water in them. Beaumont stated he hadn’t been on the parcels in question since last fall so he didn’t know if the holes had water. 

Board members discussed whether or not the County of Stettler should lease grazing land that doesn’t have water sources.

Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk stated that bidders were notified in the original advertising that the County of Stettler wasn’t providing any water, and that producers were responsible for their own water supply.

Beaumont added only about 25 to 30 per cent of the County of Stettler parcels actually have water on them and that most producers haul their own water.

Helping hand

Beaumont reported his department recently met with Alberta Transportation to discuss training and vegetation issues. 

“They are seeking more weed related education so we have invited them to the regional spring training hosted by the agricultural fieldmen,” stated Beaumont. “We are investigating assisting with roadside weed control via spot spraying on a contract basis.” 

He added talks on roadside weed control are in progress.

Board members discussed which Alberta Transportation offices and managers were involved in these talks, with Beaumont responding the Hanna and Three Hills offices were involved; he noted Stettler no longer has an Alberta Transportation manager.

Beaumont further noted Albertans may see Alberta Transportation zones shifted to align better with rural municipalities. In that case, he noted, the County of Stettler would only have to work with one Alberta Transportation manager rather than the current two. Beaumont stated it seems the County of Stettler, if a change is made, will be part of the Three Hills zone.

Board members heard this will also affect snow plowing on major highways.

Dry plans

Beaumont informed the board the County of Stettler continues to plan for drought this coming summer.

“Further investigating drought resilience plans and resources to provide to producers,” he stated in his report to the board. “We are in the planning stages of creating our own county drought resiliency plan.”

Board members accepted Beaumont’s report as information.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 08, 2024 at 08:52

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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