The Cowboy Conservationist

helloPotholes Plus Program, Uplands, Wetlands

Colin Adams is a young cattle rancher with a passion for rodeo, having just finished a season on the professional circuit. However he also has a passion for conserving nature on his southwestern Manitoba cattle ranch. A portion of his land is now protected with a Conservation Agreement.

According to Adams there is no downside to this decision.  The agreement benefits both his ranching operation and the environment.

Adams recently protected part of his ranch by signing a Conservation Agreement (CA) to permanently protect 240 acres of habitat vital for both grassland birds and waterfowl. He is now set to ink another agreement on two additional quarter sections of native grasslands that will protect native pasture near Pipestone.

As a young rancher just starting up, Adams faces a lot of expenses so the payment received for the Conservation Agreement is being put to good use. “It is cash in my pocket and I am investing the money back into the operation,” he said. “I have used it to increase the herd with replacement heifers and upgrade equipment.”

His first agreement is adjacent to Whitewater Lake near Deloraine, according to Tom Moran, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC) field rep for the area. Whitewater Lake is a world-renowned wetland and a heritage marsh that is home to a large variety of birds. It is also a major waterfowl staging area, and, because of this, the project was partially funded by the State of Illinois through their duck stamp program.

“His land is comprised of a mix of native prairie which also includes some wetland habitat,” said Moran. “It supports a variety of grassland and wetland wildlife species and is important in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.”

While entering into this type of agreement may appear intimidating to some folks, not so with Adams. Following in his father’s footsteps, he recognizes the need to protect and conserve the natural habitat on his land so it can remain in its natural state.

“We always conserve the land anyway,” said Adams. “We don’t knock down any trees. Sloughs are meant to be sloughs and the trees are left.” He feels that signing the agreement will not hinder his operation.

“It is impressive to see his desire to protect the ranch and the habitat, rather than try to drain and clear it,” said Moran. “In an area where many folks want to eliminate wetlands, it is encouraging and this sets a good example for others.”

Adams is a professional rodeo cowboy who competes in bareback event. “I rodeo for a living in addition to ranching,” he explains. “I do a lot of rodeo on the professional circuit out west and in the United States.” Before moving up to the professional ranks he was the Novice National Champion.

This past summer he competed at the Calgary Stampede, and was one of only three Canadian competitors invited to the Stampede’s bareback event. Adams holds memberships in both the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

When not on the rodeo circuit, Adams lives near Deloraine on the family ranch where he works in partnership with his father raising Black Angus cattle. They currently maintain a herd of 289 cow-calf pairs, an increase of 39 head thanks to the CA revenue.

Conservation Agreements are a form of easement that allow landowners to permanently protect the habitat on a portion of their property for future generations. The landowner continues to hold title to their land and enjoys all the benefits of land ownership.

For more information on CAs you can contact Tom Moran in Boissevain at 204-305-0276, or your local Habitat Conservation Specialist.

By Bill Stillwell, Photo By Silvano Arecco (mia immagine)