Designed to acquire and protect wildlife habitat, the Alberta Fish and Game Association’s Wildlife Trust Fund has been so successful in recent years that it actually had to rein in its activities in 2019, taking on just 606 acres. That’s in marked contrast to 2018, when the fund acquired 18 new properties totalling almost 2,200 acres.
“That’s why we slowed things down last year,” says Brad Fenson, AFGA’s habitat development coordinator. “We wanted to get organized and get all the management plans in place, and do a bunch of follow-up work.”
To date, the Wildlife Trust Fund has acquired a total of 45,831 acres in Alberta, and more land is already in the works for 2020. “There are almost 300 acres that we’ll probably acquire in the first few months of the year,” Fenson says, adding there’s more to come. “We have lots of new referrals.”
Highlighting this success, the AFGA was slated to celebrate the fund at its late-February conference, centred on the theme “50,000 acres of Wildlife Trust Land: A legacy of our past and present members.”
As to why the fund has thrived, Fenson gives much of the credit to the AFGA’s membership. “We wouldn’t have experienced the level of success we’ve had to date if it weren’t for the commitment of our members and our executive,” he says. “That’s where our money comes from, the grassroots. A lot of clubs run fundraisers, special events and raffles, and that allows us to move forward, find partners and be successful.”
While the fund’s primary purpose is to protect habitat, the acquired land remains open to the public for a variety of outdoor recreational uses, provided visitors follow the rules—foot access only, no camping and no fires. “They’re not preserves where we don’t want anyone to walk on them,” Fenson stresses. “They’re good examples of how land can be managed for habitat, and where you can enjoy both consumptive and non-consumptive uses.”
Learn more about the AFGA’s programs and positions at www.afga.org.