The County of Stettler Agriculture Service Board (ASB) heard that farmers and residents in the municipality are interested in planting trees and want more information about how to do it. The topic was discussed at the Feb. 22 regular ASB meeting.

The ASB is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. Dave Grover.

Board member Les Stulberg reported that a ratepayer approached him recently and asked if the county shelterbelt program remained in place; Stulberg replied it was but didn’t have all the details on hand.

Stulberg asked what the deadline for the shelterbelt program was and whether a discount was still in place. It seemed the discount applied to producers attending a shelterbelt workshop.

Readers should note a shelterbelt is essentially a row of trees planted for agricultural and/or environmental purposes.

Director of Agricultural Operations Quentin Beaumont responded the shelterbelt program remains in place and plans are underway for another shelterbelt workshop which would be held in mid-March.

Coun. Grover noted he had been asked about prices. Beaumont responded when the public calls in for that information he directs them to a website called, “…because that’s where the trees and the prices are.”

Coun. Justin Stevens stated the federal government apparently has a tree planting program either in place or coming soon; he asked if the County of Stettler shelterbelt program can access those funds. Beaumont stated he will investigate and report back at a future meeting.

Tree clearing

Board members discussed the topic of clearing trees and brush away from roadways, ditches and intersections that comes up on a regular basis at the ASB meetings. 

Coun. James Nibourg noted he’d seen county staff clearing brush and asked if that was just dead trees being moved, or if problematic trees were also being removed.

He further noted funds had been budgeted for custom brushing and asked when that program would begin.

Staff responded that Nibourg saw county workers clearing dead brush on a selective basis. Staff also reported on the possibility of a tracked Caterpillar vehicle that may help with tree clearing. 

It was also noted programs such as brushing and herbicide spraying are in the planning stages right now.

Nibourg also noted he’d been travelling in the north part of the county recently and saw County of Stettler staff cutting brush and loading it onto trailers for disposal. Nibourg stated he thought the county had a chipper and suggested hauling the branches was inefficient. 

“Does that not feel inefficient to you guys?” asked Nibourg.

Staff responded it did feel inefficient and managers planned to spend time in the field with workers on activities like chipping tree branches.

Beaumont pointed out the county did borrow a chipper from the Town of Stettler but it was designed for chipping smaller branches; also, a chipper was cut from the budget to save $50,000. 

Beaumont also pointed out staff must be cautious with chipping as diseases such as black-knot can be spread unintentionally.

Coun. Grover noted the power company, when chipping, does it on site and simply leaves the chips there. Grover also stated he wants “bad corners” brushed to prevent motor vehicle collisions. He noted heavy brush can sometimes obscure road signs.

Councillors accepted the brushing report as information.

Rodent control

In Beaumont’s regular report to the board a topic was mentioned that is being discussed in most farm and ranching circles right now: rodent control.

“We will have three products on hand for the 2023 season, we will have Rozol, Ground Force, and Ramik,” noted Beaumont’s report. “These are all multi-feed baits as that is our only option now for Richardson Ground Squirrel control.”

The federal government recently banned strychnine, one of the most popular rodent control poisons, partly because Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency claimed there was “…a lack of mitigation measures to protect non-target species.”

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 13, 2023

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

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