ALUS program expands to Quebec

The Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program has made its move into a sixth province with a new project in Quebec’s Monteregie.

ALUS Canada, working with the Monteregie branch of Quebec’s Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), formally launched the program Wednesday at its first Quebec location, a farm near St-Jean-Baptiste, south of St-Hyacinthe.

ALUS, in its initial year in the province, is expected to develop six hectares of habitat for wildlife and native pollinators and help to improve water quality.

The project, at Jules Malouin’s farm southeast of St-Jean-Baptiste, is also expected to help stabilize the riverbank, reduce erosion and provide “cooling shade” over a nearby watercourse, thus improving water quality for an endangered fish species, the copper redhorse.

According to the federal fisheries department, the copper redhorse is the only fish species with a distribution range entirely in Quebec, around islands in the St. Lawrence River and its lakes.

The species, found nowhere else in the world and protected in Canada since 2007, faces habitat pressure from riverbank erosion, “increased suspended matter owing to agriculture, deforestation and urbanization” and the “premature aging” of the rivers, the fisheries department said.

ALUS Canada, the not-for-profit body that now operates ALUS in six provinces, said the Monteregie program will focus on a 420-square km area made up of two watersheds, those of the riviere des Hurons and the ruisseaux (creeks) Hazen-Bleury and a la Barbotte.

“The UPA has always recognized the importance of ecological services, and now this partnership with ALUS Canada will allow us to act on it,” Christian Saint Jacques, president of the Federation de l’UPA de la Monteregie and of the ALUS-Monteregie partnership advisory committee, said in a release.

“ALUS provides the mechanism to put projects on the ground, and the funding to make annual payments to our participants” such as Malouin, he said.

The ALUS program, which first launched in Manitoba in 2006 and now runs also in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, relaunched earlier this year under the ALUS Canada not-for-profit body, with backing from the Toronto-based W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

ALUS Canada has so far invested nearly $2.8 million with over 700 participants on almost 18,400 ALUS acres across the country. — AGCanada.com Network

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