The Alberta Fish and Game Association is on the hunt for volunteers to help keep an eye on its Wildlife Trust Fund properties. Since 1983, the AFGA and various partners have been purchasing ecologically important land under the trust fund program, with the association currently holding or sharing the title on approximately 100 properties across the province. Stewards from local AFGA chapters monitor most of the land, but several “orphan” properties still require oversight, AFGA executive vice-president Martin Sharren says.
While the Wildlife Trust Fund’s goal is to conserve and maintain wildlife habitat throughout the province, the public can still access the properties. Permission is not required to hunt, fish or hike on the land, but users must abide by the posted rules—vehicle use is prohibited, as is camping, building fires and setting up any type of shelter.
Volunteer stewards are expected to tour the property at least twice a year, usually in the spring and fall, and report back about any unauthorized activity or maintenance issues that need to be addressed. The AFGA provides new volunteers with training on what to look for and how to submit reports, Sharren says, noting that stewards are not expected to confront users who are breaking the rules. “If they see something really bad, or if somebody’s abusing the land, we do not ask them to intercede,” he says. “We just ask for a report.”
Along with volunteers, the AFGA is always looking for both monetary and land donations to the trust fund. Sharren says the money is much needed because property prices have risen so dramatically in recent years. “Even 20 years ago, you could pick up a quarter section of recreational property, though critical for wildlife, for $20,000,” he says. “You’re not coming anywhere near that now, as the price of land has skyrocketed.”
Learn more about the AFGA’s programs and positions at www.afga.org.