ALUS Success Stories

Helping Sustain Agriculture, Wildlife and Open Spaces

Alternative Lane Use Services (ALUS) helps regional producers take care of the landscape in ways that support humans, wildlife and the ecosystem alike.

ALUS channels funding to where it can have the greatest real-world impact for the environment: by investing it in farmers and ranchers who steward the region’s working landscape.

What does a succesful ALUS project look like? Explore the success stories below to find out. Then consider contacting the County's ALUS Coordinator to get going on a project of your own!

What's in the ALUS section...

Why do Wetlands Matter?

Wetlands provide tremendous benefits to human beings and nature. These benefits can be called ecosystem Goods and Services and are essential to our survival. Wetlands generate air while sequestering carbon, grow food and fiber for human use, medicinal plants, genetic diversity and materials, and provide habitat. One of the best things wetlands do is filter surface and ground water.

Wetlands, especially ones with organic and clay-based soils, have significant adsorption capacities. This means that pollutants and contaminants can be pulled out of the water and adsorbed on to clay surface particles, therefore removing them from the waterways. Some clays (specifically kaolinite and montmorillonite) are known for the abilities to pull heavy metals from water and store them2. These metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, cobalt, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc) can become toxic to human, animal and plant life. This removal of metals can reduce costs to filter the water down stream, as well as increase the health of our ecosystems overall.

Portable watering system (click to enlarge)

Wetland Fencing: Cherhill Region

On a property near Cherhill, cattle had direct access to the wetland (dugout), causing soil disturbance (pugging) and trampling all adjacent grass. Fencing off this (riparian) area around the wetland allowed the grass to recover; protected water and soil quality; and prevented manure and urine from entering the water.

Just one year after the fencing was put up and the cattle were excluded from the waterbody (dugout), the wetland area had improved considerably. The ALUS program paid for 50% of the fencing and an alternate watering system.

Wetland in the Cherhill area as fencing was being established. (click to enlarge)
Wetland one year after fencing was put up and cattle were excluded. (click to enlarge)

Wetland Fencing: Onoway Region

The first photo below was taken on a farm in the Onoway area in the winter of 2017. Cattle had direct access to the wetland, resulting in noticeable “tufts” of grass. These tufts are created when cattle trample soil surrounding a wetland while it is wet.

Farmers are active stewards of the land and can implement Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) to minimize their industry's impact.

The soil will often wash away during a high water flow event, leaving the soil that is bound by the grass roots held in place. This is an example of the deep binding roots of grass that reduce soil erosion.

Two years after fencing, the tufts of grass had begun to recede due to exclusion from cattle. The water quality improved considerably because manure and urine was not deposited directly into the water. 

The ALUS program paid for 50% of the fencing and alternate watering system. 

Wetland in the Cherhill area as fencing was being established. (click to enlarge)
Wetland in the Cherhill area as fencing was being established. (click to enlarge)
Wetland in the Cherhill area as fencing was being established. (click to enlarge)

Fencing and Tree Planting: Mayerthorpe Region

This farm is close to Mayerthorpe with a strong river running through the back of the parcel. The trees had been taken by beaver and the grass by the cattle. The intention of this ALUS project is to fence off this area from cattle and replant some trees to help speed up the recovery. The goal for this project was to stop the erosion of the river by using green infrastructure (trees and shrubs) to bind to the soil and

Here is what the riparian area looked like after planting. Hemp mats (insert) were used to give the trees an advantage over the grass for competition with sunlight and help retain moisture.

The soil will often wash away during a high water flow event, leaving the soil that is bound by the grass roots held in place. This is an example of the deep binding roots of grass that reduce soil erosion.

Two years after fencing, the tufts of grass had begun to recede due to exclusion from cattle. The water quality improved considerably because manure and urine was not deposited directly into the water. 

The ALUS program paid for 50% of the fencing and alternate watering system. 

Riverside farmland affected taken by beaver cattle activity. (click to enlarge)
Riparian area soon after planting and fencing. (click to enlarge)
Hemp mats were used to encourage healthy tree growth. (click to enlarge)

Get Your ALUS Project Going Today

If your land could benefit from a land stewardship project, get in touch with the County's ALUS coordinator today. The ALUS program helps sustain agriculture, wildlife, and natural spaces for the benefit of both landowners and the environment. Project types include:
  • Riparian area enhancements and expansions
  • fencing around water bodies
  • Native prairie establishment
  • Pollinator habitat
  • Wetland restoration, creation & enhancement
  • Multi-row shelterbelts/reforestation
  • Watering systems
  • Nesting structures
Wetland dugout (click to enlarge)

Why Participate in ALUS?

ALUS is a voluntary program dedicated to helping you establish your environmental visions for your property. ALUS provides a monetary incentive to eligible landowners for establishing these stewardship projects on their property.

The ALUS annual payments are based on acres taken out of production and are a recognition that implementing stewardship activities costs landowners money. Because the benefits provided, such as clearer water and air, benefit society as a whole we believe landowners should be compensated for some of the costs.

ALUS helps producers in three ways:

  1. By working with producers to identify stewardship opportunities on their farms, and helping them throughout the ALUS process.
  2. By sharing establishment costs (for materials and labour) with the land owner or manager.
  3. By providing an annual payment, based on competitive local land rental rates, for land that is taken out of production.